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Danica Patrick Talks About Scary Wreck At Daytona

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Thursday, February 23 2012

Danica Patrick's car suffered serious damage during her crash at Daytona on Thursday. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Brian Lawdermilk)

RacinToday.com

In her first real Sprint Cup race, Danica Patrick was involved in one of the scariest wrecks of Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway.

On the final lap of the first Gatorade Duel, Patrick’s Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet was bumped off the track at nearly 200 mph.

The car skipped across the paved portion of the front stretch infield and slammed head-on into the wall.

The wall was protected by a SAFTER Barrier but the car was still completely wrecked.

Patrick suffered no serious injuries.

After emerging from the infield care center, Patrick met with reporters and fielded several questions about her day and the wreck.

The following is a transcript of that interview:

IT LOOKED LIKE A VICIOUS HIT WHAT WAS IT LIKE FROM BEHIND THE STEERING WHEEL? “It happened really quickly. I guess you can always imagine when you get down to the end of the race everyone is on each other’s doors really close. It’s just kind of what happens at the end of the race. Unfortunately, I was part of it. I felt like I was having at least a solid race. I worked my way up there at the beginning a little bit; hung around in the front group for a while. I felt like it kind of slowed down I was dragging the brake a little bit just to keep with the pack and not run up to them too quickly. I don’t know if that had any affect. We were just looking to finish to be honest; unfortunately that was not the case.”

BEFORE THE CRASH DID YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE RACING IN THE PACK? “Yeah, I felt good. It was just a matter of getting in the right line with the right people in the fast lane. It was hard to get past that sort of mid-pack range. I felt like if I could have gotten up a little farther it would have been better. Of course running up front is always better (laughs). I feel bummed out. Two corners to go and I got into the wall. Maybe the back-up car will be faster.”

DANICA, WHAT HAPPENED? “I’m guessing those with the jumbotron probably had a better view than what I did from my perspective. The bottom lane was moving in (turns) one and two and I just stayed low and we were making our run down the back all of a sudden I got hit. Everybody is trying to side draft really close obviously and get what they can. Unfortunately, I was the big looser in it all. I don’t know if I could have done anything different. Of course I will go look at the video to see if there is something I could have done. It was a pretty fast and sideways journey so I kind of just braced myself.”

WHAT DID YOU LEARN TODAY OUT THERE RACING IN THE PACK? “I learned a lot. It was a pretty calm race for the most part. Every now and again people get rattled and start moving around. It was pretty calm and I felt really comfortable. I was starting to learn and definitely picking up a lot about side drafting. How it affects you and how it is used so much especially in pack racing. Finding good lanes and just getting used to who moves well towards the front and who doesn’t and trying to pick those right lanes.”

WHAT HAPPENED? “I’m betting that everybody that was watching on TV probably had the best look. From my perspective it was obviously the last lap and the bottom lane started moving well so that is where I was. We were just getting our run down the back and all of a sudden I got hit. I’m betting that somebody also got hit outside of me, is what I’m betting. I’m going to have to look. It was just a chain reaction every person that gets hit, next and next and next. It gets bigger and bigger. It felt like a pretty big hit so I don’t know what it looked like. I’m really just bummed out that we didn’t finish the last two corners. Instead we have a Go Daddy car in the wall and lots of damage and I’m sure a back-up. But, what I said was maybe the back-up car will be faster.”

THE GOOD NEWS IS YOU FINISHED MOST OF THE RACE. WHAT CAN YOU TAKE FROM TODAY INTO SUNDAY? “Definitely, if that would have happened at the beginning it would have been very frustrating to not have that experience. I was definitely picking up a lot about the side drafting and about which lanes move well. How to just pick up the draft in front of me without pushing it away and trying to stay in a nice pocket there. Of course I’m going to go back and I’m going to be asking what I need to do. I’m definitely asking Tony (Stewart) what to do. I think he won right? Did he win? (Media answered yes he did win) I think I have someone good to ask.”

WHAT IS YOUR CONFIDENCE LEVEL GOING INTO SUNDAY? “I feel good, I really feel good. I feel comfortable. I feel confident. I feel like if things fall our way and I can take the experience from today into Sunday. I think it can be a good day. Obviously, things that are out of your control can make it a bad day. But, that is kind of the excitement about racing at Daytona and the excitement about big pack racing.”

REGARDING HER CRASH: “I guess it’s good that it happened today and not on a Saturday or Sunday. That would have meant I crashed in the Nationwide race and that would have been bad. I mean I just got hit. We were just running on the bottom lane and I’m betting it was a chain reaction from the outside it looked like. Guys get so close on their side drafting that they are touching you sometimes and I’m sure that at times, maybe in that situation it was a hitting side draft. It was probably just a chain reaction and I will go look at it and see if I can fix something or change something I am doing out there. Overall, 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. I guess that maybe that back-up car is fast. We weren’t super excited after qualifying. Maybe this is a blessing in big disguise.”

WHAT’S IT LIKE TO HIT THE WALL? “It sucks. You just have to brace yourself. I guess in these situations, I just have to be glad that I’m a small driver and that I’ve got room. I just have to kind of hug it in and let it rip.”

WAS IT PRETTY MUCH WHAT YOU EXPECTED? “At times it was much calmer than I expected to be honest. At times when we got single file or just very steady two lane racing it was pretty calm. I felt like I learned a lot. I felt like I learned a lot about the side draft and what to do in those situations and get the most out of it. Obviously, you don’t want to be too much or get into people and things happen.”

SO YOU WERE HAPPY THEN? “Yeah, overall I’m happy. Forgetting the last two corners I’m glad that I finished all those laps to get that experience. It would have been much more disappointing to have done that early on and not have the experience that I did.”

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Thursday, February 23 2012
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