Danica Patrick and Dale Earnhardt Jr. have been longtime friends, but the NASCAR drivers had a bit of bad blood between them on Saturday at Kentucky Speedway, and now fans are wondering whether they’ll make up in time to take the track in New Hampshire this weekend.
The trouble began when Earnhardt Jr. crashed into the back of Patrick’s car on accident after having issues with his brakes. The incident angered Patrick and she reportedly cursed at him over the radio and then hit him back as the two of them were leaving the track. After the race, reporters say, she stalked off and wouldn’t speak to reporters, but Dale talked a bit about what happened afterward and seemed confused as to why she was so upset.
“The brakes got worse and worse and worse and I probably shouldn’t have been racing as hard as I was when we ran into the back of Danica. But I went into that corner and mashed the brakes to the floor. I pumped it three times all the way to the floor and then ran into her. There wasn’t anything I could do. It sucks. I don’t like running into Danica because it gets a little too much attention, but I’m sorry for that,” Earnhardt said. “I mean, as hard as I hit her, what the hell did she think I was doing? Trying to wreck her?. We ain’t got no problem. It’s not like we were having a problem out on the racetrack with her. It’s not like I just drew her name out of a hat and decided she was the one I was going to run into tonight.”
Earnhardt still ended up finishing ahead of Patrick, which may have had something to do with her frustration; as one of the few female drivers on the NASCAR circuit, Danica Patrick has received quite a bit of attention from the media and from her fellow drivers, and not all of it is positive. Racing legend Richard Petty had a few choice words to say about her, telling reporters that she’s not a race car driver.
“She can go fast, and I’ve seen her go fast. She drives the wheels off it when she goes fast…she’s not a race car driver. There’s a difference,” Petty said.