Danica Patrick was set for an impressive finish at Bristol in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Irwin Tools Night Race, but Regan Smith sent her careening into the wall on the inside of the track and drew an angry finger point from the star driver.
Fox Sports: NASCAR noted that this was a measured response from Patrick, and she easily could have opted for a more demonstrative retaliation:
Danica forgoes any helmet throwing, opting instead for a finger point #NASCAR— FOX SPORTS: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) August 26, 2012
The helmet-throwing reference highlights a separate incident at the race involving Tony Stewart. The mercurial driver rubbed up against Matt Kenseth, and both cars ended up spinning out.
Denny Hamlin emerged from the madness unscathed and went on to win the race. Johnson finished in second, with Jeff Gordon checking in at third.
Bristol is a track that is infamous for crashes, and frustratingly premature ends to the race for several drivers caused tempers to flare. It was certainly a disappointing end for Patrick, who was denied the full 500 laps after an unfortunate incident caused her to crash last weekend as well.
Patrick was winning the Nationwide Series race at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, when a shoe thrown from someone in the crowd caused enough damage to her car to lose her the race. After that frustrating result, Patrick undoubtedly had her heart set on finishing every lap in this race. Unfortunately, bad luck prevented that from happening for the second weekend in a row.
Patrick still walked away from the weekend with some positives to reflect on, as she finished ninth in Friday’s Nationwide race at Bristol. This was the third-best finish of her career.
Ultimately, Patrick had two performances that she can be proud of at one of the most difficult tracks in racing.