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Dan Wheldon Crash: Danica Patrick's Departure Overshadowed by Tragic Event

Eric BowmanFeatured ColumnistOctober 17, 2011

FORT WORTH, TX - JUNE 06:  (L-R) Dan Wheldon, driver of the #10 Polaroid/Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara Honda, and Danica Patrick driver of the #7 Andretti Green Racing Motorola Dallara Honda, laugh during qualifying for the IRL IndyCar Series Bombardier Learjet 550k on June 6, 2008 at the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

After seven years of racing IndyCars on the biggest stage, Danica Patrick had her last race in the Izod IndyCar World Championship, but it was overshadowed by the tragic death of popular driver Dan Wheldon. 

Sunday's race at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway saw a horrendous 15-car crash that ultimately took the life of one of the sports most beloved drivers. 

The race was appropriately not restarted, but other drivers did circle the track to honor Wheldon. 

Danica told ABC her thoughts on the crash right after it happened. Per ESPN

"There was debris everywhere, you could smell smoke and see the billowing smoke," she said in a live ABC interview while the race was stopped for clean-up and repair. I hope, I hope everyone is OK. I heard about Dan …," said Patrick, her voice trailing off. "You just don't want to be in that position." 

However, when anybody wants to let their emotions really go and share their thoughts, they do it via Twitter, which is exactly what Danica did. 

Everyone is sad about this event, and it's something that will definitely stick with Danica for the rest of her life because of what Sunday's race was supposed to be. Instead of looking back on this day, her last in IndyCar, she'll remember all the pain that was had from such a devastating and overwhelming event. 

She may have only won one IndyCar race in her career, but she was no doubt the sports most popular driver. In fact, Danica was voted Most Popular Driver of the IndyCar series the past six years and will likely win it again for 2011. 

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Danica brought new fans to the sport, and one has to wonder how the sport will do after her departure and Wheldon's death. 

The most popular woman in racing is now headed to race full-time in NASCAR, and it will certainly be interesting to see how she does against some very talented and experienced drivers. 

One thing is for sure though, Danica's last race in IndyCar will be remembered not for her, but rather, the tragic heartbreak placed on the family Wheldon leaves behind, as well as all IndyCar drivers and fans.