Kentucky was a memorable race for both Dale Earnhardt Jr., Danica Patrick and both rabid fan bases. Not in a good way.
Coming into Turn 3, Earnhardt made contact with Patrick, sending the No. 10 car into the wall and causing massive damage to the right rear. We now know that Junior didn’t have any brakes and has said he is “not too worried” about the accident affecting his relationship with his former driver for JR Motorsports.
On his weekly “The Dale Jr. Download” on Diry Mo Radio, Earnhardt broke down exactly what happened on Saturday night in The Bluegrass State.
I forgot to turn on switches that cool the brakes and keep the tire temps down. We took off running there in the first run and the brakes started fading a little bit. Luckily, the caution came out and I was able to get the switches on. Come down pit road, pull the tape off the brakes and that should fix it. Everything should go back to normal and the pedal should come back, and that’s not what happened. It continued to get worse and worse each run.
Even with faulty brakes, Junior proved to be able to fight his way into the top 20. But after contact with Patrick, he appeared to race more cautiously to avoid another accident. He detailed what transpired between the No. 88 and No. 10 during and after the wreck.
I started taking it easy, sort of running along pumping the brakes a lot. I had just let Danica go by and down the back straightaway I’m pumping the brakes and they’re not—I can’t pump ’em all the way to the floor on the straightaway cause you don’t want to slow the car down while you’re trying to accelerate. … I let off the brakes and mashed it again. At this point I’m gonna hit her. I let off the brakes and mashed it again and it goes to the floor and I ran into the back of her. There’s wasn’t nothing I could do about it.
She flew off the handle, got pissed off. Our spotters communicated and told her about the brakes. She still ran into us on pit road for whatever damn reason. … That just brings a lot of unwanted attention to both of us for the wrong reasons.
Both drivers would eventually finish outside the top 20 on Saturday and miss out on valuable points in the process. It was obviously a bigger deal for Patrick, who doesn’t have the two wins Junior does and a Chase spot secured.
However, there was no confrontation after the race with Patrick not repeating what took place between her and Denny Hamlin to start the season. It will be interesting to see if this just goes quietly into the night or if there is more to come during the rest of the year.
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