Danica Patrick wrecked both Landon Cassill and herself Sunday at Kansas Speedway. Her subsequent comments, however, made it clear that the incident was much more than a simple racing accident.
Speaking to Motor Racing Network after being released from the track’s Infield Care Center, Patrick said she intentionally wrecked Cassill in retaliation for contact between the two on a restart moments earlier.
"He got into me on the front straight and said I was just in the way," said Patrick. "That's really no good reason to hit me. If it (happens) one time, I can imagine it's frustration. But it's been quite a few times with him. At some point I have to stand up for myself, so this doesn't happen with other people. I chose today."
Television replays showed contact between the two prior to the crash, sufficient to leave only a faint rubber donut on the side of Patrick's Chevrolet. Cassill told SB Nation reporter Jeff Gluck he simply “moved” Patrick because she was "driving like a maniac. I didn't hit her because she was in my way and I wanted to pick on her,” he said. “I hit her because she was driving like an idiot for 30th (place).
|Patrick: "I have to stand up for myself."|
“I didn't do anything different with her today than I did with some other guys,” he added. “There was a lot of hard racing out there today. It was a great racetrack, but it provided for hard racing. That's racing. That's how it goes."
He accused Patrick of making “some aggressive moves that in my opinion were unnecessary. She holds up the field and holds up the other cars by crowding. I needed to get by her – so I laid some sheet metal to her," he said. "I don't have anything against her. We're all working our asses off to make it here; I am (and) she is. It's a competitive sport, and events like this happen.”
Sunday was not the first overreaction by Patrick to an incident of on-track contact. During her Indy Car career, she had an entertaining history of verbal confrontations with drivers she thought used more than their fair share of the race track. Now, she apparently feels the need to make a stronger statement, with her front bumper.
In-car video from Patrick’s Chevrolet clearly showed her turning right in an attempt to wreck Cassill’s Burger King-sponsored Toyota. Cassill spun as a result of that contact, but so did Patrick, eventually impacting the outside wall and ending her day. Cassill continued undamaged, eventually equaling his career-best Sprint Cup Series finish with an 18th-place showing.
“I’m out of the race and he’s not,” said Patrick in a post-race radio interview. "He's still out there going, so I've got to work on how to do that.”
Better still, Patrick could accept the fact that incidental contact is part of the game in stock car racing. This is not Indy Car, where rubbing wheels is akin to attempted murder. This is NASCAR, where “moving a driver over” with a well-placed bump is part of doing business.
Landon Cassill did not wreck Danica Patrick Sunday. He moved her out of his way, using sufficient skill to allow her to continue her race, with no damage done. Patrick responded with a ham-handed takeout bid; attempting to stick Cassell’s Toyota in the fence at over 180 mph. In this particular case, the punishment far exceeded the crime.
Patrick’s crew chief, Greg Zipadelli, apparently agreed, telling Patrick on her in-car radio, “You know better than to do that.”
Danica Patrick is a talented racer who will almost certainly enjoy a long and lucrative NASCAR career. Sunday’s race proved, however, that she’s still got a lot to learn.
Video: ESPN Photo: AP