Danica's First Nationwide Race
Danica Patrick made her Nationwide Series debut on Saturday at Daytona International Speedway, driving the JR Motorsports Go Daddy.com car.
Patrick and her father shared a hug and a few words before what represented another landmark event in her racing career.
Patrick was one of two women to start in Saturday's race. Chrissy Wallace hit the outside wall on the first lap and was knocked out of the race.
"It's important to have realistic expectations," Patrick said. "There's going to be spikes in performance, I don't doubt that. But there's also going to be tough days. And today, I would say, was more of a tough day."
Patrick finished sixth in last week's ARCA event at Daytona, and felt comfortable enough to move her NASCAR debut up a week to the Nationwide opener.
Patrick trusted her spotter and her instincts to escape damage on a Lap 8 wreck involving Trevor Bayne and Mike Bliss.
After not getting caught up in the wreck, Patrick said over her radio, "I don't know how I didn't, but I didn't."
Patrick wasn't nearly as fortunate midway through the race, when she and 11 other cars were involved in the "big one" on Lap 68.
The front end of her No. 7 Chevrolet was torn to shreds, turning her hopes for a dazzling debut into the worst three-letter acronym in the sport: DNF (did not finish).
In summing up her day, Patrick said, " It's never fun when you crash up a perfectly good car and it wasn't your fault."
Even with the race still going, the media converged on Patrick to get her thoughts about her day.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s car went airborne late in the race and slid on its roof before getting hit again and landing back on its tires.
Earnhardt walked away from the crash unscathed.
Tony Stewart won the race for the fifth time in six years.