2014 Daytona 500: Danica Patrick crashes out

Jerry Markland

Danica Patrick’s finish in the 2014 Daytona 500 was far different than how she performed a year ago.

In the aftermath of Danica Patrick slamming head-on into the front stretch wall, all her crew chief Tony Gibson could do was shake his head as he looked at the video board in the infield of Daytona International Speedway.

The replay was rather conclusive: Kevin Harvick, Patrick's Stewart-Haas Racing teammate, pushed another car into the side of Aric Almirola, who in turn slid down the track and tagged Patrick.

"It's pretty obvious, the 4 (Harvick) started the whole thing," Gibson said not angry just matter-of-factly.

The nose of her Chevrolet flattened, Patrick would be recorded as finishing the Daytona 500 in 40th-place. The result was a far cry from her record-breaking experience of a year ago when she became the first woman to win a Cup Series pole, and ran third on the final lap before inexperience got the better of her and she slid to eighth.

"It's a bummer," Patrick said. "But you know that is the excitement of speedway racing that anything can happen, and it was unfortunate that I was on the short end of the accident. But that is the kind of thing that happens."

As a whole Patrick's entire Daytona experience had been different this year. SHR lacked top-end speed in single-file runs, which was evident when Patrick clocked-in just the 25th-best time in qualifying.

Her problems manifested when a rule required her and Tony Stewart to lineup at the rear of the field in both their qualifying race and in the 500 due to unapproved engine changes. Patrick was vocal about the perceived injustice of a rule she felt penalized her twice.

The thinking entering the Daytona 500 was that the unevenness of Speedweeks would be forgotten, as Patrick would find success in the draft, a form of racing she has quickly adapted to since her full-time to NASCAR in 2011. And for a while that appeared to be the case.

Patrick was competitive Sunday and was in line for a respectable finish. Then came the accident which caused her crew chief to shake his head in frustration.

"I think more than anything I am just upset that the (No. 10) car felt really good and it was the best car that I had all Speedweeks," Patrick said. "It seemed like we could catch whoever and it seemed like we could move around, make lanes and just move around and move forward at the end of the day. I felt like everything was going pretty well, so it's just upsetting you know."

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