KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Danica Patrick can relate to many a Formula 1 driver after her day Sunday at Kansas.
In F1, a driver or two regularly doesn't make it through the first turn of a race because of a crash in the first corner. That happened to Patrick on Sunday, when her car was totaled after she spun and hit the wall in turn one on the first lap.
"I knew that going into the race based on practice and everything we've seen from practice in Cup to the Nationwide race, that losing grip was going to be not that hard to do," Patrick said. "And so I said that before the race even, I said 'make sure that we're on top of who is on my door and who is behind me.' And I knew all that was going to be happening on the start."
Patrick was referencing the 60 degree temperatures in Kansas City and the variable it provided with the race tires and track surface. Kansas Speedway was repaved last summer and new tracks mean smoother rides and faster speeds for drivers.
However, with the downforce generated with Sprint Cup Series cars, that also means that Goodyear, NASCAR's tire manufacturer, has a hard time creating tires that are durable enough for the loads that are applied on them and soft enough to give drivers grip. With the cool temperatures and new tire and surface, drivers didn't have much traction on the track. The race featured a track record 15 caution flags, including one for a bush fire outside turn one.
"And I had enough momentum to go to the middle because I got a run on the car in front of me but I had to wait past the start/finish line. I lifted going into turn one and all I can say is that I didn't try and do anything. I just found myself sideways in the middle of the corner and that was it."
Patrick collected David Reutimann and Cole Whitt in the incident and Kyle Busch, who started in the back of the pack after crashing in practice Saturday, also spun behind the accident. The three other drivers were able to continue while Patrick finished in 43rd and last place.