For the first half of Sunday’s Daytona 500, Danica Patrick flashed some potential. She was running inside the top 20 and looked to be in position for a solid finish.
But in an instant, her NASCAR career ended the same way last season came crashing down – winding up involved in someone else’s wreck.
It was Chase Elliott who started it all, losing it after getting bumped by Brad Keselowski on the backstretch. From there, the Big One was on, and several cars got caught up in it, including Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne and Patrick.
— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) February 18, 2018
“Just trying to feel [Ryan] Blaney out, I had a big push and just got light at the wrong time,” Elliott said afterward. “Didn’t make the right move.”
Keselowski also took some blame, claiming the new handling package left the cars on the edge of control a little too much.
“Wrecked at the front of the pack,” he said. “Trying to make a move in front of the No. 9, and it happens so fast. Too many moves, and the cars aren’t stable enough to take that. Really disappointing for everybody. Just trying to race, but I had such a run, I couldn’t keep stopping. It didn’t come together.”
The crash took out former Daytona 500 winner Harvick. He tried to continue but lost his original door in turns 3 and 4, a piece that proved to be his undoing.
— Tom Bowles From Frontstretch.com (@NASCARBowles) February 18, 2018
But the big loser in it all was Patrick, running NASCAR for the final time before retiring after May’s Indy 500. The wreckage left the 2013 Daytona 500 pole winner with a racecar that just wouldn’t start.
“That’s the gamble about Daytona,” she said. “It can go so well, and it can go so awful. So I’m grateful for everything. Thankful for all the fans. It just wasn’t meant to be today.”
The crash ends Patrick’s NASCAR career at seven career top-10 finishes in 191 career starts. The first of those came at Daytona, five years ago. For a time, Patrick was very optimistic this Premium Motorsports deal could provide a storybook ending.
“The car was a lot better than it was in the Duel, a lot better than practice,” she said. “[Crew chief] Tony Eury Jr. did an awesome job, the whole team did a really good job. We pulled this together not that long ago, and that’s a tall order to get a car ready for a superspeedway that’s competitive. It was.”
It just couldn’t miss the carnage, crashes that left ten DNFs for wrecks in this Daytona 500 by the end of stage two.
— nascarcasm (@nascarcasm) February 18, 2018
About the author
The author of Did You Notice? (Wednesdays) Tom spends his time overseeing Frontstretch’s 40+ staff members as its majority owner and Editor-in-Chief. Based outside Philadelphia, Bowles is a two-time Emmy winner in NASCAR television and has worked in racing production with FOX, TNT, and ESPN while appearing on-air for SIRIUS XM Radio and FOX Sports 1's former show, the Crowd Goes Wild. He most recently consulted with SRX Racing, helping manage cutting-edge technology and graphics that appeared on their CBS broadcasts during 2021 and 2022.
You can find Tom’s writing here, at CBSSports.com and Athlonsports.com, where he’s been an editorial consultant for the annual racing magazine for 15 years.
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