DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Danica Patrick was involved in a crash shortly after the first practice session began Wednesday afternoon at Daytona International Speedway.
Patrick was on the outside lane when Denny Hamlin made a move to go into the middle. Replays showed that Patrick made a move down. The contact with Hamlin turned Patrick and caused a backup behind her.
“I guess I’ll take the blame,” Hamlin said on Fox Sports 2. “I was going through the middle, which in practice you can’t so aggressive … You want to protect your car, but we also have to put ourselves in positions where we have to figure out what our car is doing. I went through the middle, it was really wide. As soon as I already got in beside her, the lane closed and knocked me into (Casey Mears).
“There’s typically not a whole lot of blocking in practice and things like that – that you’ll see in the race. That’s just a miscalculation one way or another on one of our parts. Unfortunately, some cars got torn up.”
Patrick was uninjured.
“Riding along and it turned,” Patrick said told the media after exiting the infield care center. “It’s the nature of pack racing. That’s what makes it challenging, too, is sometimes there’s not much you can do about it. I could have collected more people, and it wouldn’t have been anything they were a part of, but that’s just group racing at Daytona. That’s the gamble we all face. That’s what makes it exciting and very frustrating. We knew we were going to have to run hard in the Duels, no matter what, that just doesn’t change. Still have to.”
Patrick’s team went to a backup car. She will have to start at the rear of her qualifying race only. This does not impact her starting spot for the Daytona 500.
“Hopefully, we can get out by second practice,” Patrick said on Fox Sports 2, noting the team had not planned to practice Thursday before this incident. “We’ve just to go take sure everything is OK and ready to roll for (Thursday).”
Michael Annett’s car also was damaged. He will go to a backup car. Jeb Burton also was involved in the incident and will go to a backup car.
Hamlin said his team would not need to go to a backup car.
Kyle Larson tweeted that he damaged the nose of his car running through the grass and will not take part in Wednesday’s second practice session. His team plans to practice Thursday.