There’s something strange and scary about the final lap of a NASCAR race. Every car is vying for its last chance to turn the corner and make a pass. But Dale Earnhardt’s crash was in the final lap. And now, in a surprising moment of another final lap, Danica Patrick and her car slid down the track into a wall blocking the infield. Worst of all, her crash was nose first.
Thankfully, the driver-turned-model was not injured. In fact, she was barely shaken by the incident.
“It sucks,” she said, but you “just kind of brace yourself and be thankful that I’m a small driver and I’ve got room and kind of hug it in and let it rip.” Yikes! Perhaps more interesting is that Danica crashed into a special type of wall, designed since the death of Dale Earnhardt in 2001. It’s called a SAFER barrier. Like the crumple zones of a car, these walls are designed to compress on impact, blunting the force of the contact.
The Daytona 500, which airs on Sunday, February 26, will be Patrick’s first major foray into the biggest stage of NASCAR. When the accident happened this week, fans immediately wondered if she’d be able to compete over the weekend. An impact as tough as Danica faced would be hard for anyone, let alone someone who intends to get right back in a car and drive in excess of 200 mph. Experts say that she’ll still be able to race, but she’ll be in the back of the pack with a loaner vehicle. GoDaddy, who sponsors Danica Patrick as a race car driver, will give her what they can, but it remains to be seen whether this backup vehicle will even be competitive.
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