Driving at speeds of over 180 mph on a 1-5 mile oval, accidents are bound to happen. When they happen between the two most popular drivers in NASCAR, well, things tend to get a little interesting around the sport.
When Dale Earnhardt Jr. made contact with Danica Patrick at Kentucky, Twitter nearly exploded. When Junior and Patrick met up again on pit road shortly after, Patrick nearly exploded.
— Chicken Bone Alley (@CBoneAlley) July 12, 2015
We now know that the No. 88 machine was without brakes as the pads were worn out. However, that didn’t stop Patrick from screaming obscenities at her former owner at JR Motorsports at the Xfinity level from 2010 through 2012.
Now that both sides have calmed down, Earnhardt believes there will be no budding rivalry with the Stewart-Haas Racing driver.
“She will chill out,” he told reporters after the race. “It happens to all of us. I’m not too worried about it. I got a pretty good friend, so I think we will be able to talk it out.”
Junior took responsibility for the incident, pointing out it’s difficult to stop in a corner with no brakes. The Hendrick Motorsports driver noted he has no animosity toward Patrick.
“We didn’t have any brakes going into the corner,” Earnhardt said. “There wasn’t nothing I could do.
“I mean as hard as I hit her, what the hell did she think I was doing—trying to wreck her? We ain’t got no problem. It’s not like I was having a problem with her out there on the race track. Not like I just drew her name out of a hat and decided, ‘She’s who I’m going to run into tonight.'”
The pressure is clearly on for Patrick, who is in a contract year and still searching for a primary sponsor after this season. After the collision with Earnhardt, the SHR driver likely doesn’t want to start a rivalry with the 12-time Most Popular Driver in the sport.
Patrick declined to comment following the race, but did show emotion after the race by slamming her equipment into the car. How she’ll react moving forward will be telling of where the relationship with her former owner truly stands.
Heading to New Hampshire, a track where Patrick clinched a top-20 finish last September, she’ll be looking to get back on track. With Junior holding three straight top 10s at New Hampshire, both should be set for strong finishes over the weekend.
Follow Chicken Bone Alley on Twitter.