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Danica Patrick Crashes in Practice Session at Bristol Motor Speedway

Driver Danica Patrick (10) rolls down pit road after hitting the wall during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup series auto race at Bristol Motor Speedway on Friday, March 14, 2014, in Bristol, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)
WADE PAYNE/Associated Press
Kenny DeJohnAnalyst IIIMarch 15, 2014

Friday's practice session at Bristol Motor Speedway didn't go as smoothly as several drivers would have liked.

Danica Patrick crashed her No. 10 car about three minutes into the session. She hit Parker Kligerman's car, forcing Stewart-Haas Racing to go to her backup car before the halfway point of the 90-minute practice. 

Her car received some damage to the front end:

Mar 14, 2014; Bristol, TN, USA; Detailed view of the crashed car of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Danica Patrick during practice for the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

It also saw some damage to the rear:

Mar 14, 2014; Bristol, TN, USA; Detailed view of the crashed car of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Danica Patrick during practice for the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Kligerman's Swan Racing team attempted to repair the damage to his car and was successful in getting it back on the track for the remainder of the session.

In total, four racers went to backup cars during the run. Patrick was joined by 15-time Bristol winner (across all series) Kyle Busch, Justin Allgaier and Greg Biffle.

Denny Hamlin, who watched several of the crashes from the pits, didn't blame the treachery on the track. In an interview with Fox Sports 1 (via Nate Ryan of USA Today), he blamed the fact that drivers are getting used to a new tire compound and no minimum front-end height (new rules for the 2014 season):

I really don't think (the track is) treacherous. It's just the speeds are so much higher than we've seen. It takes a little getting used to. We are all out there fighting for a tenth-of-a-second—a hundredth-of-a-second at Bristol. I think it comes more from us pushing the edge than it is treacherous.

As the season progresses, drivers will presumably get used to such changes. Seeing as Bristol is just the fourth race of the season, it is understandable that the drivers are still focused on acclimating themselves to the higher speeds.

Patrick has had a tendency to get into wrecks this season. Bob Pockrass of Sporting News mentioned her inability to avoid crashes:

The wreck was Patrick's fourth in four weekends this season. She was collected in a multicar crash at Daytona, and then was involved in two spins after contact with Justin Allgaier at Phoenix. She finished a season-best 21st last week at Las Vegas.

The No. 10 car could have used a full practice session, as Patrick has struggled in her career at Bristol. Over three career races there, her average finish is just 27.7. That's just a little worse than her overall career average finish of 26.9, via Racing-Reference.info.

Patrick is currently 33rd in the Sprint Cup standings and could use a strong finish Sunday to begin climbing the ranks. Another finish like last week in Las Vegas would do well to get her moving in the right direction.

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