Danica Patrick's fourth and final Daytona start in 2012 ended just like the first three; with a crash.
Patrick qualified third and spent most of the evening near the front, leading five times for a career-high 13 laps, and missed the race's 14-car pileup because she was at the head of the pack. It wouldn't have been a stretch to say that Patrick might have had the race's best car.
But 17 laps later, Patrick wasn't so lucky. Jeffrey Earnhardt went around off the bumper of Ricky Stenhouse ahead of Patrick, and Patrick, who was on the outside as the field exited Turn 2, darted to the inside to miss Earnhardt's car. But as she made her move to the left, she clipped the front bumper of a car and off she went towards the inside wall.
It was a violent impact that knocked her steering wheel straight up in the air — an extraordinary sight from the in-car camera. (Patrick was OK.) And it was eerily reminiscent of her crash in the Gatorade Duel qualifying race for the Daytona 500, where she also slammed into the inside backstretch wall. In the first Nationwide race at Daytona, she crashed after she and teammate Cole Whitt made contact and was caught up in a crash along with Jimmie Johnson three laps into the 500.
Patrick's next scheduled restrictor plate start? Speedweeks in Daytona next year. Will the turn of the calendar also turn her luck?
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