Danica Patrick finished the Daytona 500 in 38th place, after becoming involved in what was her third car wreck over SpeedWeek.
The wreck, which happened in just the second lap of the race, occurred after Patrick had already crashed once during Thursday's qualifying race and again when wrecked by JR Motorsports teammate Cole Whitt after winning the pole for the Nationwide Series race.
The final crash took the NASCAR driver by surprise. "I mean, I was pretty speechless," Patrick told the Associated Press. "I didn't really know what to say. I just pretty much kept my mouth shut and just sat there. Just breathe."
The incident occurred when Elliott Sadler hit the bumper of five-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson, launching him into the wall. In the backlash, Johnson's car shot backwards into the center of the track causing other NASCAR drivers to become involved in the accident. Patrick, in an attempt to swerve out of the way first headed toward the wall then swerved back toward the grass, only nearly missing two other cars that were swerving out, as she passed in between.
Others affected by the wreck included David Ragan, winner at Daytona in July, and Kurt Busch, a former champion making his first start with his new team.
The incident, which occurred unusually early on in the race, has drawn criticism in Sadler's direction. "Just waiting to see the replay to see what bonehead would make a move like that this early in the Daytona 500," Ragan said immediately after the wreck. And on his radio, Dale Earnhardt Jr. demanded Sadler get away from him.
Johnson however, wasn't ready to throw any blame. "It was all just getting up to speed, really," he said. "Got a little help from behind and couldn't control it through the tri-oval. Nothing intentional I don't believe, just a little help from behind ... I just got some help at the wrong point in time. It was a hard hit. I'm sure I'll feel it tomorrow. Right now my adrenaline is carrying me through any sore spots."
Patrick also played the incident down, albeit some disappointment. "I would have loved to have run up there. I would have loved to have got the experience when you actually were racing for positions as opposed to just feeling it out," Patrick said. "But I truly believe everything happens for a reason."