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Patrick's retaliation message backfires

October 22, 2012, Holly Cain, Special to NASCAR.COM, NASCAR.com

Danica Patrick's eighth Sprint Cup Series start ended in dramatic fashion after she wrecked at Kansas (Getty Images).

Failed wreck attempt leaves Danica in garage, Cassill on way to career-best finish

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Lagging in practice, slow in qualifying and forced to start from the rear of Sunday's Hollywood Casino 400 starting field because her car needed an engine change, Danica Patrick was already having a rough weekend.

And then she had simply had enough.

Patrick's eighth Sprint Cup Series start ended midway through the race at Kansas Speedway when she crashed out while trying to deliver a 180-mph retaliatory message to driver Landon Cassill.

"If it's one time, I can imagine it is frustration, but it's been quite a few times with him. At some point I have to stand up for myself so this doesn't happen with other people."

--DANICA PATRICK

Frustrated with how she felt Cassill was racing her -- and eager to prove she is not anybody's pushover -- Patrick nosed her No. 10 GoDaddy.com Chevy into his Toyota. But she ended up getting the worst of the deal as her car crashed hard into the wall and he was able to continue and tie a career best finish of 18th.

"He got into me on the front straight and said I was just in the way and that's really no good reason to hit me,'' Patrick explained in the garage later.

"If it's one time, I can imagine it is frustration, but it's been quite a few times with him.

"At some point I have to stand up for myself so this doesn't happen with other people. I chose [Sunday].

"The bummer about it is that my car is out, and he's still out there going, so I've got to work on how to do that."

This type of "conflict resolution" is hardly new in NASCAR, but it is for this new NASCAR driver who has been encouraged to drive more aggressively. While Patrick had several well-publicized "don't mess with me" moments during her IndyCar career, she has only had a few tests of true grit in her limited stock car experience.

Depending on who you speak with -- Patrick's large fan base, or her veteran crew chief, Greg Zipidelli -- she was either standing up for herself Sunday or giving her crew unnecessary extra work.

The team had planned to field her Kansas car at Texas Motor Speedway in two weeks. And Zipidelli actually chided Patrick on the radio, "you know better than that'' as she drove her damaged car into the garage.

Meanwhile, Cassill reminded his crew, "Rule number one in stock car racing is knowing how to wreck someone without wrecking yourself.''

Reached by telephone after the race, Cassill said that it was nothing personal with Patrick. He was just issuing an old school lesson in driving etiquette.

"The reason I hit her is because she was driving like a maniac in 30th place and put all of us at risk,'' Cassill said, glad for the opportunity to explain his side of the dust-up.

"She was just driving crazy on the restarts and I had to get by her, so I just put a fender to her just like I would any other stock car driver.

"This whole thing has probably blown up because of who it was with. It was just hard racing. I'm trying to make it in this sport, just like she is. It was one professional race car driver to another."

Cassill said he had already reached out to Patrick via text message but had not heard back from her.

"I just told her, 'hey, this is why I raced you the way I did,' Cassill explained. "I told her, 'I didn't just push you around for the sake of pushing you around.'

"I raced her the same way I would race another driver who was racing me like that. I wasn't bullying her.''