Danica Patrick walked away from her crash at the Gatorade Duel at Daytona Thursday, after slamming into a wall on the last lap of the qualifying race. Thanks to Nascar safety innovations, along with Patrick's quick thinking, she was uninjured. The video below shows how Patrick took her hands off the wheel to avoid broken wrists:
"It felt like a pretty big hit, so I don't know what (the crash) looked like," Patrick said, according to USA Today. Tony Stewart, winner of the race, and also the owner of Stewart-Haas Racing, the team fielding Patrick stated, "it was really impressive to watch how she just kept picking her way through the field. She got up to sixth at one point. I thought she did a good job - There wasn't any doubt in my mind that she would do that." Patrick was in 10th place at her crash, which cost her starting position for Sunday's Daytona 500. She have to use a backup car, and will have to make up her points-race Cup debut from the back of the field.
"It felt like a pretty big hit, so I don't know what (the crash) looked like," Patrick told her pit crew, "I'm really just bummed out that we didn't finish the last two corners. Instead we have a car in the wall and lots of damage and I'm sure a backup. But maybe the backup car will be faster." Stewart mentioned one of Patrick's biggest priorities presently is gaining the respect and trust of fellow drivers. "It's hard for her now because she's trying to gain the confidence of the guys around her that she's solid and is going to make good decisions," Stewart said. He adds that for a while during the race, drivers seemed wary to run with Patrick, and were avoiding her.
Patrick is set to race full-time in NASCAR this year. She'll drive Nationwide for JR Motorsports, and plans to run a partial Cup schedule for Stewart.
"I feel really feel good," Patrick said. "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 will be a good day. And obviously, things that are out of your control can make it a bad day, but that's kind of the excitement about racing." Stewart added that Patrick gained respect in the field by showing patience and poise during the qualifier, noting that she's a typically a more aggressive driver.