Daytona Notebook: Denny Hamlin Takes Some Fault For Incident With Danica Patrick

(NASCAR Wire Service)

By Reid Spencer ~ NASCAR Wire Service

Danica Patrick (10) spins during the second Daytona 500 qualifying race Thursday (Photo: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Danica Patrick (10) spins during the second Daytona 500 qualifying race Thursday (Photo: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images for NASCAR)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.—Maybe Denny Hamlin was simply trying to smooth the waters after his run-in with Danica Patrick in Thursday night’s second Duel at Daytona 150-mile qualifying races.

Or perhaps his after-the-fact tweets were slightly tongue-in-cheek, which, knowing Hamlin, wouldn’t be beyond the realm of possibility.

“On the streets of real life cops always give the ticket to the car behind in a accident,” Hamlin posted on his Twitter feed late Thursday night. “We will use that logic on this one. #tooclose #mybad”

Martin Truex Jr., who finished fifth in the second Duel, weighed in shortly thereafter. “Denny you can push me anytime,” Truex tweeted.

“Wow … You were going somewhere in a hurry … NOTED,” Hamlin replied.

There’s no doubt Hamlin and Patrick were racing in extremely tight quarters late in Thursday night’s race, which set the field for Sunday’s Daytona 500 (1 p.m. on FOX). Hamlin was following Patrick closely, made a move to the inside and took the air off the spoiler on Patrick’s No. 10 Chevrolet.

Patrick spun and slid through the infield grass, but with quick repair work by her crew and a stout push from Stewart-Haas teammate Kurt Busch, she rallied to finish 10th and qualified for Sunday’s season-opening Daytona 500.

After watching video of the incident, Hamlin added another tweet.

“Folks I watched it back and I was in the drivers seat so I know … I did NOT hit her. BUT I was close, too close obviously.”


Dale Earnhardt Jr. was fast during Thursday night’s first Budweiser Duel at Daytona qualifying race, which he won after starting at the back of the field.

Nothing changed on Friday, after Earnhardt’s crew replaced the engine used in the Duel with a new one for Sunday’s Daytona 500.

Earnhardt skipped Friday’s first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice session but in the second practice, his No. 88 Chevrolet topped the speed chart at 194.405 mph, nearly a full mile-an-hour faster than the 193.528 mph lap posted by Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne.

How good is Earnhardt’s car? So good that it surprised it’s driver in the Duels.

“It finishes a lot of moves,” Earnhardt. “It kind of surprised me. It does a couple things that surprised me out there in the race. So I felt like the car made the job a lot easier.”

Hendrick cars driven by Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson swept the front row in last Sunday’s Daytona 500 time trials. Then Earnhardt and Johnson swept Thursday’s Duels.

And on Friday afternoon, cars powered by Hendrick engines—those of Earnhardt, Kahne, Johnson and Danica Patrick were the four fastest cars in the final practice of the day.

Do we see a trend here?


After wrecks in the last Saturday’s Sprint Unlimited, Wednesday’s practice and Thursday night’s Duel, the last thing Danica Patrick needed was another problem.

Consider that Patrick and her No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing team had already launched their own recycling program—for race cars. The car Patrick wrecked in the Unlimited had been sent back to Charlotte, North Carolina, for repairs, and that was the machine Patrick was driving during Friday afternoon’s practice session at Daytona International Speedway.

Seventeen minutes into Friday’s second session—the first of the day for Patrick at the 2.5-mile superspeedway—her car began to smoke and dropped fluid on the track, causing a brief red-flag period.

Fortunately, the problem was merely a water line issue and not a blown engine, and Patrick was able to return to the tack later in the session. But Speedweeks continued to be fraught with obstacles for the former open-wheel star.


The school of NASCAR is officially in session. NASCAR on Friday announced the launch of NASCAR Acceleration Nation, the sport’s first-ever national learning and entertainment platform created just for kids.

NASCAR Acceleration Nation will impact children across the country through an in-school Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) program, created together with Scholastic. Classroom content will focus on teaching the aerodynamic principles of Drag, Downforce and Drafting, the NASCAR Three D’s of Speed. will engage kids with exclusive content and NASCAR-themed games and activities, while the NASCAR Acceleration Nation Experience will bring the platform to life for children and families at race tracks.

“NASCAR Acceleration Nation is about bringing kids closer to our sport in an entertaining and educational way,” said Brent Dewar, NASCAR chief operating officer. “When you look at the speed and design of our race cars and their performance on the track, NASCAR represents a unique platform to teach math and science. Our goal is to make learning these subjects fun for kids.”

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