“I got back to the throttle and it was like a muffled [sound] – really muffled like I blew an engine. And then it just got sideways and hit the wall. There were a lot of flames, too. Obviously, some kind of oil or something like that in there that created that.” -- Sprint Cup driver Danica Patrick
Mechanical issues with Danica Patrick’s No. 10 Chevrolet just six minutes into Friday morning’s first Sprint Cup Series practice session ignited a flame-throwing, metal-grinding crash at Dover International Speedway.
Patrick’s Chevrolet spewed smoke and broke loose exiting the fourth turn before the rear end of her car erupted into flames as she spun down the frontstretch of the high-banked, one-mile oval.
Patrick’s car owner and teammate Tony Stewart and Jamie McMurray both crashed hard into the fourth-turn wall after driving into oil left on the track by her car.
“I got back to the throttle and it was like a muffled [sound] – really muffled like I blew an engine,” Patrick said. “And then it just got sideways and hit the wall. There were a lot of flames, too. Obviously, some kind of oil of something like that in there that created that.”
Stewart, who hit the wall in three separate places, initially slammed hard into a part of the outside wall in the fourth corner that is not protected by a SAFER barrier.
Stewart, who missed the first eight races of the season due to a back injury he suffered in an off-road crash in the offseason, walked gingerly to the ambulance after his car came to a stop against the pit wall.
Jamie McMurray was also collected in the crash and appeared to suffer an injury to his elbow.
All three drivers were evaluated and released from the infield care center.
“I really feel bad because Jamie’s elbow hurt pretty bad and I don’t know if Tony’s feeling perfect,” said Patrick. “Definitely unfortunate. It’s not something we commonly see.”
Patrick was obviously concerned with Stewart’s health, especially considering his previous back injury.
“I think at any point in time you worry for Tony, just making sure that he’s OK after everything he’s gone through physically,” she said. “Hopefully, he’s alright, but I guess only he knows how he feels right now.”