You can love Danica Patrick or you can hate her, but you can't argue that she hasn't had some really rough luck this season. After a miserable practice session in which she consistently brought up the rear of the pack, timing-wise, Patrick ran decently at Bristol largely by keeping her head while everyone around her lost theirs. She was on the verge of a top-20 finish — not the stuff of which legends are made, but not what we'd have expected from that practice session, either — when contact with Regan Smith on lap 435 sent her into the wall and into a fury.
"This is Bristol, and this is why people love this track is because you see a lot of that and you see tempers flare," she said afterward. "The team did a great job and everything was running really smoothly. So it's a shame that we lost that. But you know, Bristol is a place where you find out who's playing fair and who's not."
[Related: Tony Stewart flings helmet at Matt Kenseth]
Her team was far less diplomatic, cursing over the radio and vowing revenge on Smith.
Smith, for his part, was contrite: "I just pushed up into her," he told SB Nation. "Trust me when I say this: No one wants to be the guy who wrecked Danica."
Patrick punctuated her anger by angrily wagging her finger at Smith. That was unfortunate; she should have joined her boss Tony Stewart in flinging a helmet. If she'd connected, she'd instantly gain legions of new fans.
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