Danica Patrick was right in the thick of Sunday’s Daytona 500 when she was forced to exit following a 17-car crash that began when Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48 car was struck by Trevor Bayne’s No. 6 car.
After she was cleared by medical personnel, Patrick spoke with For The Win’s Michelle R. Martinelli and put the blame for the crash on NASCAR’s new rule changes, specifically the rule that created staged racing.
“The stages are definitely going to add to it,” Patrick said per Martinelli, “because not only is it creating a reason to push at certain points in the race that aren’t anything but the last 20, but you’re also seeing it shuffling the grid up.”
But, that wasn’t the only new rule that Patrick blamed for 15 of the 40 cars being knocked out of “The Great American Race” with a quarter of the laps remaining.
After an accident, teams now have a five-minute time limit on repairs. The car must be able to return to the track at minimum speed within that time frame or the car is out of the race.
“What you’re seeing is the product of the five-minute clock,” Patrick said. “You’re seeing a product of the new rules of having to go to the infield care center if you don’t finish the race. I’m totally fine. I drove my car back to the garage. I never would have come to the infield care center if not for the new protocols, so I’m all for being all well, but it’s probably a bit much.”
The driver of the No. 10 Ford didn’t put all of the blame on the new rules, though, as she admitted that crashes are more likely to happen on superspeedway tracks due to cars being bunched together.
It wasn’t all crashes on Sunday, however, as Kurt Busch took home his first Daytona 500 victory by edging out Kyle Larson on the final lap.
Thumbnail photo via Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports Images