- (Photo: Reuters/Brian Blanco)
Danica Patrick's crash yesterday was heard around the racing world, but she is not letting it get to her before Sunday's big race.
During the final lap of a qualifying race at the Daytona International Speedway, Patrick slammed into a barrier; the crash was so intense that it ripped the front off her main car. Fortunately she has a secondary car to drive for Sunday's Dayton 500.
"I'm just very disappointed that the car got crashed with two corners to go. It's not how we wanted to roll into Sunday. We wanted to just be cool, calm and collected with no damage. But like I said, maybe that backup car is fast…a blessing in disguise," Patrick told reporters.
She struggled to describe what caused the accident. "I just got hit. Just running on the bottom lane and I'm betting it was the chain reaction from the outside, it looked like. Guys get so close on the side drafting that they're touching you sometimes." But she noted: "I felt like I learned a lot. I was learning a lot about the side draft and what to do in those situations, how to get the most out of it."
Patrick will make history on Sunday; she is only the second woman to compete in the Daytona 500 since 2002. "I'm excited about the world I'm getting into and about the racing and the people and all the great things that are going to happen," she told the Florida Times-Union.
Greg Zipadelli, Patrick's race strategist, told reporters: "Her biggest thing was she wanted to go out there and ride with a bunch of guys and be in there and earn the respect of them - she can do this, she's not all over the place."
Tony Stewart, team owner, agreed and added, "It's hard for her now because she's trying to gain the confidence of the guys around her. She's solid and is going to make good decisions."
"I feel really good. I feel comfortable, I feel confident. I feel like if things fall our way and I take the experience from today into Sunday, I think it will be a good day," Patrick told reporters.