Danica Patrick became the second driver involved in a hard wreck in Sunday’s Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.
Patrick was running in 19th place on Lap 121 of the scheduled 200-lap event when Kasey Kahne got into the right rear of her No. 14 Chevrolet with the left front of his No. 5 Chevy, turning Patrick’s car head-on into the outside SAFER barrier.
Upon exiting her car after it came to a stop at the bottom of the track, Patrick walked toward the racing surface – which is against NASCAR rules – and gestured to Kahne by throwing up both of her hands in the air. A NASCAR official approached Patrick, but she already had reversed field and left the racing surface, heading toward a waiting ambulance.
“I had a run on him and went down low, if you get too close to him, it will drag you both back, so I was going low,” Patrick told Fox Sports. “I saw him chase me down the track and the next thing I know, I was getting spun off the track.
“I don’t know what kind of day he was having. I just heard he was a lap down actually. I feel bad if he felt like he was thrown in a position to be that desperate a lap down cause it’s just unfortunate. He must be having a very tough time.”
Kahne, who was a lap down in 31st, radioed his team that he initiated contact in the incident.
“I’m pretty sure I hooked her right there, but I feel like she started coming up the track,” he said over his team radio. “I might be wrong.”
Kahne later added in another transmission, “I’m glad she’s OK. I definitely didn’t mean to do it. I was trying to side draft. I didn’t mean to mess her up.”
NASCAR officials called for Kahne and crew chief Keith Rodden to come to its hauler after the race.
Earlier in the race, Kyle Larson also suffered a hard head-on wreck on the backstretch. He was uninjured.