KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Danica Patrick’s frustrating season continued Saturday night at Kansas Speedway when a broken brake rotor on Joey Logano’s car sent them both into the wall and left Aric Almirola nowhere to go.
Almirola plowed into Logano’s car as it skidded along the wall, the force of the impact sent the rear of the No. 43 into the air. Almirola’s car came to rest near the outside fence, and he appeared to tell safety crews he was OK as they cut the roof off to safely get him out.
Almirola was placed on a backboard and taken to the infield care center, then was airlifted to the University of Kansas Medical Center for observation. He was conscious and alert throughout.
Logano and Patrick were checked and released from the care center.
“I’m just saying prayers for Aric,” Logano said. “Something broke in our car. I don’t know what it was. I noticed it going in and tried to back off, but you’re going 215 (mph) and I hooked Danica.
“The right front hopped or something and it took a hard left.”
That hard left caught the right rear of Patrick, sending her into the wall. Her car burst into flames as it headed back across the track and finally came to rest along the apron, and Patrick quickly got out of her flaming car and marched away.
When Logano tried to speak to her, Patrick appeared to brusquely brush him off.
“I told him, ‘I’m not sure if it was you, but I’m pretty sure it was you.’ Then he said it was a failure of some sort, which didn’t make me feel better in that moment,” Patrick said. “I hope Aric is OK. He’s definitely feeling the worst of everybody.”
Almirola was running about 10 spots behind Logano and Patrick when the crash occurred. He tried to slam on the brakes and slow down, but he started getting sideways as he made impact. The debris that was scattered across the track caused a red flag, stopping the race for nearly 30 minutes.
Patrick and Logano were running just outside the top 10 with 67 laps to go.
“A lot of us took a hard hit,” Logano said. “That’s the last thing you want to see.”
Overheating brakes had been a problem for several drivers Saturday night. Once the red flag was finally lifted and cars began rolling off, Clint Bowyer told his team over the radio he was concerned about the heat building up in his own brakes.
As for Patrick, it was the third time in four races that her night ended in a wreck. She also crashed out of the season-opening Daytona 500 and had engine trouble at Las Vegas.
All that misfortune had left her 31st in points entering the weekend and has raised speculation that she might walk away from NASCAR’s top series after this season. Patrick talked openly about her frustrations earlier this week, and she bemoaned her rotten luck again Saturday night.
“I don’t understand why so much bad luck happens,” she said. “I mean, why? What else can I say? On the other hand, I was having a really good night and that’s what makes me the maddest. Every time I’m doing better, something stupid happens and I don’t know what to say about it.”