Danica Patrick walked away after her car slammed into the wall and caught on fire, while Aric Almirola is in stable condition after their involvement in a horrific multi-car crash during Saturday night’s Monster Energy Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway.
Joey Logano and Patrick were racing for position in Turn 2 with 67 laps remaining when an apparent mechanical failure believed to be a broken right-front brake rotor caused Logano’s No. 22 car to veer left and clip the right-rear of Patrick’s No. 10 Ford. The contact sent Patrick shooting nose-first into the outside wall where she impacted the wall with such force it shoved the engine back toward the cockpit. The wall was covered by an energy-absorbent protective barrier.
As the cars of Logano and Patrick hugged the wall, Almirola, who was trailing, lost control and slid where he then had considerable contact with both Logano’s and Patrick’s cars. That contact caused Almirola’s Ford to lift off the ground and a fireball to engulf Patrick’s car. Almirola’s car eventually came to a stop along the backstretch wall.
Several drivers reported issues with overheating brakes Saturday night at the high-speed mile-and-a-half track. At the time of the incident Logano and Patrick were just outside the top 10, with Almirola approximately 10 positions behind.
“Something broke on my car,” Logano said. “I noticed it as I was trying to go in. I tried to back it off, but you’re going 215 [mph] and it’s hard to check up. The car just took a bit step sideways into the corner and I hooked Danica.”
Logano and Patrick were each able to walk without assistance to an awaiting ambulance and were transported to the infield care center. Both were evaluated and released.
Safety workers needed to cut the roof off Almirola’s car to extract him. After several minutes the 33-year-old Richard Petty Motorsports driver, who was alert and awake, was removed from the car on a backboard and airlifted to the University of Kansas Medical Center for further evaluation.
Almirola will remain hospitalized overnight, RPM said in a statement early Sunday morning. The team will provide further updates when appropriate.
“I hope Aric is alright,” Logano said. “That’s the last thing you want to see, a big hit like that for anyone. It’s unfortunate for everyone. Let’s hope that Aric is alright.”
NASCAR stopped the race for nearly 30 minutes. Martin Truex Jr. passed Ryan Blaney with 19 laps remaining to win the Go Bowling 400.
“Aric is a friend of mine,” Truex said. “Him and his wife, great people, family guy, and just such a nice family and such a nice guy.
“I was really scared when I seen that and worried for him, obviously. I hope he’s doing good. I hope it was just safety precautions that they had to take care of and get him out of there on a stretcher. Definitely thinking about him.”
For Patrick, she was having a rare strong run in what has been a frustrating season. Kansas marks the fourth time in 11 races she’s failed to finish a race because of an accident.
The Stewart-Haas Racing driver fell two spots in the points standings to 33rd overall with 15 regular season races remaining.
“I am just frustrated for the lack of breaks I get,” Patrick said. “It seems like every time things are going better and something happens I get crashed or am in a crash.”