Danica Patrick's maiden race as a full-time NASCAR Nationwide Series driver didn't go as planned.
Patrick was turned by JR Motorsports teammate Cole Whitt on lap 50 of Saturday's 120-lap Drive4COPD 300, sending her crashing into the wall for the second time in three days. She finished a disappointing 38th and was initially angry about the incident, asking on the team radio, "What the fuck was he thinking?"
"I don't think it's ever great when teammates come together," she told reporters afterward. "So we'll have to figure out what happened and move forward."
The incident occurred when Whitt was trying to hook up with Patrick in a two-car draft, but he made contact at a bad angle and sent the No. 7 car around.
"I mean, I didn't mean to turn her around or anything," Whitt said. "It's just trying to get hooked up and do the two-car tandem and (Patrick) got turned around in it."
Whitt said he thought his relationship with Patrick would be fine moving forward, despite her initial anger.
"I wouldn't expect her to be happy about it; I wouldn't be happy about it either," he said. "I don't know why anyone would expect her to be like, 'Oh yeah, that's great.'
"I mean, we're teammates. We want our teams to win, and that's why we were trying to push each other there anyway. We want to get our team up front, together."
Patrick had won the pole position for Saturday's race – becoming the first female to sit on a NASCAR pole since 1994 – but said her finish was a "bummer" because of the bad start to her championship hopes.
"Now I'm in the championship and every race matters, every point matters, which is why we got out there again (with a repaired car)," she said. "But there are so many other days where your car isn't perfect, or isn't great, or isn't super-fast, and nothing happens to you. And you think, 'Why, on the days when I have a really fast car, does it have to happen today?' But it did, and we'll move on."
Crew chief Tony Eury Jr. said he was "tickled to death" with getting the pole and told his team it was a "successful weekend" despite the bad finish.
He said the contact between teammates was "no big deal."
"He got into her at the wrong place, and that's the way it happens," Eury Jr. said. "Her and Cole can talk about it. It's no hard feelings. We're all a team here."
Patrick said she didn't plan to think about what happened in the Nationwide race for too long, considering the Daytona 500 is now only hours away.
"I can't dwell on today," she said. "I need to buckle down and focus, I need to get ready for tomorrow for the big day. And hopefully we have a better day."