Danica Patrick vowed to stand up for herself when the time was right, and she deemed Sunday's NASCAR race at Kansas Speedway to be that time.
Patrick, in her eighth Sprint Cup Series race, spun Landon Cassill around the midway point of the Hollywood Casino 400 as frustration over what she said were multiple incidents with the BK Racing driver boiled over.
"He got into me on the front straight and said I was just in the way," Patrick said. "That's really no good reason to hit me. If it's 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."
Cassill, though, told SB Nation he didn't slam into Patrick because she was in the way – he moved the No. 10 car because Patrick was "driving like a maniac making it three-wide on a restart" when others were "staying cool to keep from wrecking."
While the leaders were wrecking at the front of the field, Cassill said he and other drivers racing around the back were "biding our time." Patrick made it three-wide but didn't pass him – a move which irked Cassill.
"If you're going to make it three-wide and pass somebody, you've got to back it up," he said by phone after the race. "But she didn't. She goes under there, and then she's sliding up the racetrack and then jacks up the field, gets in the way. Then she lets two cars go by, and when I get underneath her, she crowds me. So I was like, 'No! I've been faster than you all day,' so I was going to move her. And I did."
"I didn't hit her because she was in my way and I wanted to pick on her, I hit her because she was driving like an idiot for 30th."
Patrick, who wrecked herself as she tried to wreck Cassill's No. 83 car (see video below), said she couldn't overlook repeated incidents with the same driver. Cassill, though, didn't see it that way. The only other run-in he could recall was at Atlanta, when he accidentally nudged her car while coming off the corner.
After that race, Cassill said he texted Patrick and said: "Hey, I wasn't trying to run all over you. I didn't see how your car was handling."
According to Cassill, Patrick replied and said, "Oh, it's OK. My car was really tight, I kind of checked up."
"I didn't think she had an issue or felt like I was taking advantage of her," Cassill said. "And I didn't do anything different with her today than I did with some other guys. 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."
Patrick said she wrecked the car that was supposed to be used at Texas in two weeks. She was disappointed, she said, especially to be "out of the race and he's not."
"He's still out there going, so I've got to work on how to do that," she said.
Cassill noted hard racing is common in NASCAR, especially at newly repaved intermediate tracks with a narrow groove. In that respect, he said, Patrick "made some aggressive moves that in my opinion were unnecessary."
"She holds up the field and holds up the other cars by crowding, and 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, she is. It's a competitive sport, and events like this happen. She's a professional race car driver and so am I, and that's how the sport is."
Patrick finished 32nd and Cassill finished 18th, which tied his best result of the season.