Days after NASCAR decided against penalizing Austin Dillon for his run-in with Cole Custer at Phoenix, penalties were still a hot topic when the drivers arrived at Auto Club Speedway and Danica Patrick, who has felt the wrath of NASCAR in the past, weighed in on the penalties, or lack thereof, from the sanctioning body.
In 2015, Patrick was fined $25,000 and penalized 25 points for wrecking David Gilliland under caution at Martinsville and just last year earned a behavioral penalty from NASCAR for leaving her car and walking onto a hot track after getting spun by Kasey Kahne at Auto Club Speedway. That incident earned Patrick a fine of $20,000, and put her on probation for four races.
“Give me my money back,” said Patrick. “I also got fined here last year for Kasey Kahne right-rearing me on the front straightaway at 215 miles an hour and I gave him this sign, and I got fined for that, too. I think NASCAR makes a really big mistake of fining for some stuff, especially something that happens in the car because it makes for good TV – just like fights and all that stuff. We can handle it. I think it’s a mistake. I might be speaking too much, but I’ve been fined a few times and I think that it makes for good TV and I think that we handle it out on the track ourselves.”
Given the fact that NASCAR didn’t penalize Dillon for his issues at Phoenix or Kyle Busch for punching Joey Logano and Las Vegas, Patrick added that she’d rather see that be the norm for NASCAR to take a step back and not penalize drivers for those kinds of issues.
“Yeah, I’d rather that be the standard. I mean, what does that really do? I’m not gonna not go on vacation. I would actually rather know what it did. I would actually love to see like the playground that got built for it, or homeless people that got food. I would like to see actually what the money does for fines because it’s supposed to go to charity, right? So what does it really do? I would like to see that.”
Patrick heads into Sunday’s Auto Club 400 still seeking her first top-10 finish of the season. Her best finish of the season thus far came at Atlanta with a 17th place finish and in four starts at Auto Club Speedway, she has only finished in the top-15 once, with a 14th place result in 2014.
“I’ve had great races at Fontana. It’s probably one of my better tracks. I feel like there’s been a lot of races where I’ve been in the top-15 and getting stronger as the race goes, so hopefully this weekend is a good race for me at Fontana. I would love to do that in the Aspen car and love to just have a good race. At the end of the day, what I said at the beginning of the year is that I want to do this and have fun, and when you do well you have fun, so, hopefully, it’s a good race.”