Why Does Danica Patrick Wreck So Often in NASCAR?

Danica Patrick raced full-time IndyCar from 2005-11, and holds the all-time record for most consecutive finished races in that series.  Her mark of 50 consecutive finishes without a DNF, shattered the old IndyCar record of 32– and still stands.  She was long ago recognized at the highest levels of competitive auto racing as a safe, fair & competitive driver. [1]

Danica Patrick Wins IndyCar Japan 2008

In 2012, Danica began racing in NASCAR, and has run full-time in its Sprint Cup series since 2013. In her NASCAR career of 123 races (as of this writing), she has 17 DNF’s– for an alarming rate of 13.8%.  A check of the numbers in 2014, showed she was by far the most wrecked-DNF driver in NASCAR. [2]

Another NASCAR review in 2015 showed Patrick to have the 7th-highest crash rate, among all drivers with at least 15 starts. This study included all crashes, even those that did not produce DNF’s.  [3]

This leads to the questions– why does Danica Patrick crash so much, and who’s at fault?  Video analysis will be used to group Danica Patrick’s DNF-crashes into two categories: 1) her fault; 2) not her fault.  Furthermore, wrecks which weren’t her fault will be divided into two types: A) wrecked unintentionally, which is racing luck; or B) wrecked intentionally, which implies being repeatedly targeted.

Accidents that were Danica Patrick’s fault

This is Danica Patrick in Kansas in 2012, her rookie NASCAR season. The video title is fairly accurate, and #83 Landon Cassill does a phenomenal job not wrecking, while Patrick fails to use her brakes well enough to maintain control– and that’s how the announcers call it:

A year later at Kansas in 2013, Patrick ‘got loose’ in the middle of the track and crashed on the first lap. Needless to say this was probably the worst performance of her professional career:

At Pocono in 2013, Patrick got too loose and wrecked herself and a few others. For the record, she owned it in the interview afterwards:

At Michigan in 2014, Danica Patrick got loose, lost control & spun out, causing this accident. It was clearly her fault, and all of NASCAR enjoyed pointing it out:

At Martinsville in 2015 Danica Patrick, who had gotten run up the track by #38 David Gilliland earlier in the race, attempted to retaliate with the same move, but ended up wrecking herself.  What then ensued is best described as children acting badly in cars [4] :

At Darlington 2015, Patrick got too loose and wrecked herself. She owned it in the interview:

At the 2016 Daytona 500, Patrick tried too late to squeeze #16 Greg Biffle, who had the pass. She ended up wrecking herself instead. Patrick took responsibility:

That’s a total of seven wrecks that were clearly her fault, in 123 NASCAR starts, for a 5.7% rate– which is less than half of her 13.8% total crash rate.

Unintentional wrecks of Danica Patrick

At the 2014 Daytona 500, #33 Brian Scott bumps #43 Aric Almirola, who hits the outside wall and then caroms back across the track into several cars including Patrick, who loses control and hits the outside wall very hard. No one should question Danica Patrick’s toughness after seeing this:

At Charlotte 2014, Patrick is caught up in the wash, and there’s nothing she can do. Her comments on the radio are illuminating:
Danica Patrick [at around 50 seconds in the video]: “Idiots! I mean really, who the hell did not see that coming?”
Her spotter: “A lot of them, about five people behind you.”

Speaking of stupid– blame for this massive and dangerous wreck at Talladega in 2013 was mostly on NASCAR, and the drivers let their fans know it in the post-race interviews. They clearly shouldn’t have been racing in such conditions, and drivers should NEVER try to go ‘4-wide’ when it’s dark & rainy.  Patrick didn’t appear to get clipped (as she claimed), but one can clearly see her trying to avoid a car (on fire) careening towards her.  Outside of that, her post-race summary (confirmed by others) was fair, for which the rednecks now hate her even more:

Hardcore NASCAR fans don’t even like to acknowledge this incident, which happened in Kentucky in 2015; when #88 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. rammed Danica Patrick from behind, wrecking her. NASCAR’s biggest hero later admitted he was “driving too hard with no brakes.”  This one was borderline, but Dale Jr. is a great champion– so he gets the benefit of the doubt here:

These four accidents are ‘racing luck wrecks’ which happen, and no one could reasonably expect Danica Patrick to avoid them.

Intentional wrecks of Danica Patrick

At the 2012 Gatorade Duel #1, the replay around 2:00 shows Aric Almirola in the #43 car (Richard Petty team) sliding down and wiping Danica Patrick off the track– on the final lap. This was a HARD crash, that could have caused serious injury or worse. Patrick shows elite driving skills by letting go of the steering wheel before impact with the inner wall, avoiding breaking her wrists:

I love the title of this next video, which was obviously posted by a Danica Patrick hater. At Charlotte 2014, #22 Joey Logano clearly has plenty of room to go below, but chooses to run her into the wall instead.  Classic NASCAR style:

As a bonus in 2015, Danica Patrick was wrecked in practice, qualifying for the Daytona 500– by #11 Denny Hamlin:

Shortly after, she was wrecked in the 2015 Budweiser Duel– by Denny Hamlin again.  The video around 30 seconds is definitive:

Update 4-16-16 @ Bristol    More Denny Hamlin stupidity…during practice! How are Danica Patrick and her SHR team supposed to set up a decent race car, when this keeps happening?  Note to #11 car: that’s not how you’re supposed to pass a much slower car.  Why didn’t Hamlin just duck under and blow her doors off, instead of crawling up on her ass? To ask the question is to answer it.

At Martinsville in 2014, #78 Martin Truex, Jr. slides up the track in the turn– wrecking Danica Patrick. Pretty cut & dried video:

Regan Smith crashes Danica Patrick at Bristol in 2012. Pay attention at around 50 seconds into the video, to see #78 Regan Smith slide up in the turn and clip Patrick’s left rear– sending her into the wall. “That’s unfortunate” is the color commentary:

Here’s Danica Patrick getting wrecked the year before in Bristol, by #99 Carl Edwards, who admits it’s his fault.  Danica Patrick’s radio man says to her, “just one of those things.”

Fontana 2016 is the most recent of her wrecks, and was clearly intentional– as # 5 Kasey Kahne dug into Patrick’s right rear quarter-panel, and sent her into the wall and then airborne, in this violent crash.  Kahne should have been black-flagged, and suspended for at least several races. Instead, the post-race chatter from NASCAR was whether Danica Patrick would be fined for going out onto the track– which is now prohibited [Update 3-25-16– she was fined $20,000 by NASCAR].  That wreck could have killed her, and you can hear it in her voice when she asks her spotter if it is safe for her to get out of the car– after it comes to rest:

That’s seven wrecks (plus another one in qualifying) where she was deliberately taken out by another driver. Furthermore, these intentional wrecks have been the most violent & dangerous of her crashes.

Final thoughts

Danica Patrick and her fans have been told over & over by NASCAR to “get over it.”  It is no secret that Danica Patrick has gotten jerked around by her Stewart-Haas Racing team. [5]

Daniel Knost & Danica Patrick

NASCAR has been too reckless for too long, and now it seems intent on pushing out its biggest icon. Surely, #88 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is the biggest name in NASCAR today, but #10 Danica Patrick is the superstar who (in many ways) transcends the sport– much to the disdain of its hardcore base.


There are plenty of good ‘ol boys who love to see her wrecked, and they can barely contain their glee when it happens.

danica-patrick-wrecked-by kasey-kahne

This flows all the way up to NASCAR’s biggest names, including Richard Petty and his son Kyle.

Kyle-Petty & Richard-Petty

Kyle Petty was a third-generation NASCAR driver who, despite having every advantage coming with his family name– had only 8 wins in 829 career starts, a win rate of <1%, which is comparable to Patrick’s career.  Both Petty’s have been her biggest critics, and below is a sample of Kyle’s blather; which ignores all evidence that Danica Patrick is too often being intentionally wrecked, making it impossible for her to fairly compete in NASCAR.

Many of Danica Patrick’s fans are very new to NASCAR, and therefore don’t understand how to respond to her critics. This confusion allows hateful drivers to wreck her at will, which could help explain why she never wins, and rarely gets a top-10 finish.

Danica Patrick NASCAR Stats

Danica Patrick will probably never win a NASCAR race.  She is now turning 34, and past her athletic prime.  Besides, racing is a team sport and Danica Patrick isn’t getting enough help from her team– or her fans. On top of all that, she being disrespected by too many other drivers, the powers-that-be & the culture of NASCAR.  Those are tough odds for anyone to beat.


It’s worthwhile to note that #24 Jeff Gordon and #48 Jimmie Johnson are the best drivers of this NASCAR era, and they have never tried to wreck #10 Danica Patrick.  Patrick’s fans would be well-advised to stop exhorting her for wins, and start paying more attention to her safety.


(3-25-16) Danica Patrick Horoscope: Birthdays comes once a year. Daily rebirth is a lifetime challenge in self-improvement. Rediscover your musicality by taking up the pan flute.