For the fourth time in the last eight races, Danica Patrick failed to finish because of an accident.
Her car slammed into the inside backstretch wall after a late restart Sunday at Michigan International Speedway, marking her second hard hit in the last five races. Her car was destroyed in a crash May 13 at Kansas Speedway (the same wreck that left Aric Almirola with a T5 compression fracture expected to sideline him until next month).
Patrick’s No. 10 Ford was one of five cars involved in the crash with 10 laps left at Michigan.
Contact between the three sent Suarez down the track. Darrell Wallace Jr. hit the left rear of Suarez’s car, which made an impact with Patrick that sent her car sliding toward the inside backstretch wall.
“I went into (Turn 1) and got super loose,” Blaney said. “I hate that it took a couple cars out off (Turn 2). I got really free for some reason. It caught me off guard, which made it look bad. We had a decent enough car to run up there once we got track position.”
Said Patrick: “I knew when there was a caution with about 15 laps to go that there would end up being another one. I had a good run and went for it and just got hit.”
Patrick finished last in 37th for her sixth DNF, five because of crashes. Blaney, who won last week at Pocono, finished 25th after running as high as second. Harvick placed 14th. Darrell Wallace Jr. finished 19th in his second Cup start as a substitute driver for the injured Amirola.
The crash was the latest hard hit for Patrick in a Cup career that has been full of them (recently documented here by NBC Sports’ Nate Ryan).
At one point this year, Patrick exited three races in four weeks — Bristol, Talladega and Kansas — because of wrecks.
Sunday’s accident marked the end to a tough week for the Stewart-Haas Racing driver, who made negative headlines with a viral Facebook Live video that captured her lecturing fans at Pocono after they booed her for not signing autographs.
Patrick later admitted that she “had a moment,” and that she should have just continued walking.
That was in the midst of reports that Patrick may not be with Stewart-Haas Racing after 2017.
Following her finish at Michigan, Patrick is 30th in the points standings. She is two spots and 12 points behind Almirola, who has missed the last four points races.