The first green flag of the NASCAR season hasn’t even dropped yet and tempers already are flaring.
The Daytona 500 kicks off the season Sunday, but Danica Patrick and Denny Hamlin were in midseason feisty-ness Thursday night during and after the Budweiser Duels qualifying races.
There was plenty at stake for Patrick, who raced in the second duel and needed at least a top-15 finish to get into the 500. That looked to be in serious jeopardy when she wrecked going through a corner. It was tough to tell for sure, but it looked like her car might have gotten bumped by Hamlin’s.
There was no mistaking Patrick’s thoughts on what happened, though. She made a point to seek out Hamlin after the race and she clearly thought she was bumped by the 11 car going through the corner. That led to a post-race argument between the two drivers right in front of the assembled media and video cameras.
Everything turned out OK for Patrick, though. Her crew quickly got her back on the track and she ended up finishing 10th, ensuring her a spot in Sunday’s race.
This isn’t the first time these two have had issues, though. Actually, it’s not the first time this week they’ve had issues. Patrick wrecked in practice earlier in the week after she and Hamlin got too close.
Hamlin likely realized it was in his best interest to squash the story before things got too out of hand, so he took to Twitter after the event to try and further clarify things.
[tweet https://twitter.com/dennyhamlin/status/568634240679747584 align=’center’]
[tweet https://twitter.com/dennyhamlin/status/568636248123965442 align=’center’]
At some point, though, Patrick might have to start taking some blame for continuing to wreck. The two crashes during Speedweeks is one thing, but she’s made wrecking something of a habit over her NASCAR Sprint Cup career. Counting only races, Patrick has wrecked nine times in her two-plus seasons on the Sprint Cup circuit and 11 times in 61 Xfinity Cup races since 2010.