The first woman to win a NASCAR Sprint Cup pole, that coming at Daytona, Patrick started 40th Sunday. She was slowly moving up through the field and looked on target for a top 15 finish. But on lap 185 her day ended when the right front tire on her Chevy blew as she exited turn 4. Patrick shot into the outside wall careening off and towards the inside of the track. The Ford of David Regan was unable to avoid her Chevy and flew over the driver’s side peeling the side of the car open. Patrick’s Chevy came to rest on the inside frontstretch wall.
“No real warning,” Patrick said. “I wasn't that tight either; I was sliding a little bit. I felt like most of the day I was chasing the rear. It was a little unexpected. I took a hard hit to the right, and then on the left. I'm fine. The cars and the tracks are so safe. As a driver that's a nice feeling. It doesn't change the fact that we aren't going to get any points really coming out of today, and it would have been nice.”
The trouble Patrick encountered was mirrored earlier in the race when her Stewart-Hass Racing teammate Ryan Newman blew a right side tire as well. He had hit the wall on lap 98 but reentered the race. Then on lap 140 he crashed again after the tire blew and was forced to retire.
The hit for Patrick was one of the hardest she’d ever encountered. But according to her, not the hardest.
“Oh, probably Daytona (2012) was a little bit bigger,” Patrick said. “And it was on the right and the left. So whenever those right-fronts go, they always hit hard because you don’t broadside. You kind of hit more straight on. But I took a hard hit on both sides, but I’m fine. NASCAR is doing a good job with safety, but yeah, no real good warning.”
Ending the day early was a disappointment for Patrick, especially after her eighth place finish in the season opening Daytona 500.
“It just sucks to lose the points,” Patrick said. “Everybody works hard and after last weekend we really just wanted to get to these three races and get some solid points so that when they re-establish the garage area we could; we worked in the dirt this weekend (laughed), so I really wanted my guys to get in the garage area. So, we’ll just have to come at ‘em at Vegas. I really, really like Vegas so it should suit me well. But yeah, we were having a steady day. Not great, but we were making progress.”