By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service
FONTANA, Calif. – A collision with Kasey Kahne’s Chevrolet ruined a promising afternoon for Danica Patrick in Sunday’s Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway.
Patrick started 31st and had worked her way up to 19th before wrecking hard into the Turn 1 wall on Lap 121 after contact from Kahne’s Chevy. Kahne was a lap down at the time, thanks to an earlier unscheduled pit stop.
“We were on a restart, and I had a run on him so I went down low,” said Patrick, who finished 38th. “If you get too close to them (a car you’re trying to clear) then it will drag you both back. I was going low. I saw him chase me down the track, and then the next thing I know I was getting spun up the track. I was passing him. He was behind me in the right rear.
“I don’t know what kind of day he was having. I just heard he was a lap down, actually. I feel bad if he felt like he was put in a position to have to be that desperate a lap down. … I was having a pretty good recovery day, kind of like last weekend. I was just running good race laps and on the lead lap at the end of the race back up into the top 20 from a bad starting position.”
Kahne said the accident was unintentional but avoidable.
“I passed her in (Turns) 3 and 4, and then she had the momentum off the top and went back under me going down the front stretch,” he explained. “So I went just to kind of catch a side draft to make sure I was in position getting into Turn 1, and it didn’t hold me up when I got there because I was the one coming, and I just got too close and the car was moving around and we hit and she had a bad wreck.
“I felt really bad because it was far from anything than just trying to hold my position. I’ve never had an issue with Danica at all. It was an avoidable accident in the middle of the straightaway that was far from anything but just trying to hold my position that I had just gained.”
Kahne and crew chief Keith Rodden were summoned to the NASCAR hauler after the race.
“I don’t see the NASCAR hauler very often, other than signing in on Friday mornings,” Kahne said. “They just wanted to make sure that everything was OK from my perspective and there were no hard feelings prior to the wreck or anything like that. Not at all.”
Image: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images