DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Danica Patrick suffered an ignition issue on lap 40 under the caution to eliminate her from contention in Saturday’s DRIVE4COPD 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Daytona.
The defending Nationwide Series most popular driver had been fighting escalating oil temperatures for most of the race and was unable to draft with other cars for any duration. She restarted from the lead after the first caution but was quickly forced to drop to the rear after her oil gauge shot up.
Just as the caution fell for a two-car spin involving Regan Smith and Juan Carlos Blum, Patrick came over the radio and said she lost an engine. The car had lost power coming out of turn three and she slowly coasted into the garage. Once Patrick got out of the car, her Turner-Scott Motorsports team was able to refire the car, leading Danica to erroneously believe she had just missed a switch and cost herself a chance to win the race.
Patrick, who had begun stewing in the corner of the garage, was told that it was indeed the car and she accepted the situation as something out of her control.
“It makes it worse when you’re running as good as we were,” Patrick said. “We were fast. It would have been fun to get out there and race but you can’t predict problems.”
Patrick was excited for today’s Nationwide Series opener and was told to go out there and do whatever it takes to win the race. While she was unable to win, she’s looking at the positives and what she proved in advance of Sunday’s Daytona 500.
“The guys at Turner Scott gave me a strong car and I was able to prove to the guys that I can work traffic,” Patrick said. “I showed that I was there early on and that I’m going to be able to get to the front in tomorrow’s race."
It’s a disappointing start to the weekend for Patrick but she still has tomorrow’s Daytona 500 to look forward to, where she will start in the pole position for Stewart-Haas Racing.