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Patrick's best day ends in heartbreak

Jay Hart
Yahoo Sports

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FONTANA, Calif. – Danica Patrick was on the way to the best finish of her short NASCAR career when she got wrecked – turned by James Buescher with only eight laps to go.

It was a stunning end to what was shaping up to be a stellar day for Patrick. She started Saturday's Nationwide race 14th, fell a lap down early, but got back on the lead lap and was running as high as 12th. However, on a late restart, Patrick got shuffled back in a pack where she came door-to-door with Buescher.

For two laps the two battled, with Patrick admittedly blocking Buescher into the wall at one point. When the two touched a second time, Patrick was sent spinning, her car thrown into the wall, her race over.

From her perspective, the wreck was intentional.

"I drifted up and kind of got into him the lap before and I didn't mean to," she explained after climbing out of her crumpled race car. "I thought I was clear. [That was] my fault. … I clearly got into him.

"We were all pushing really hard out there and it's those last few laps and it gets so much more racy, and I came off of him and we were going for a bit," she continued. "It looked like he turned me. I guess that's the way it goes."

Buescher, who wound up 17th, said the wreck wasn't intentional, explaining that he didn't have anywhere else to go.

"I was squeezed between her car and the wall and there was no more room," Buescher explained. "It was definitely not intentional."

Going into Saturday's race, Patrick believed she could finish inside the top 15, and she was right there. Instead, the result will show her eight laps down in 29th – the eighth time in eight races she's failed to finish on the lead lap.

"Obviously we had a good day. I just wanted to follow through with it," a dejected Patrick said. "Everybody looks at the results and I still have a [29th] place to show for it, but this one should have been much better."