Danica Patrick is the bad girl of racing. She is now $20,000 less in her pocketbook after NASCAR fined her for walking near the race track after a crash. This came after her temper got the best of her last Sunday at the Spring Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway. Danica Patrick violated the NASCAR official safety rules and walked toward the racing surface to make gestures at Kasey Kahnes’ car as it passed by her.
The guidelines are very specific in the on-track procedures that are in section (10.4.2.1) of the 2016 NASCAR Rule Book. Every driver is aware of the rules and Danica Patrick decided to break them. NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell indicated that officials at the NASCAR Research & Development Center evaluated the violation and said earlier in the week that this would be reviewed.
The incident started when Danica Patrick was past the mid-point in Sunday’s Auto Club 400 when Kasey Kahne and Danica Patrick made contact and this caused Danica’s car to hook and go nose first into a crash on the 2-mile track.
After exiting the crumpled Stewart-Haas Racing No.10 Chevrolet, instead of heading to the direction of the ambulance, Danica Patrick decided to take another route and head towards the track to gesture at Kahne. Section (10.4.2.1) of the 2016 NASCAR Rule Book states: drivers are instructed to proceed to the ambulance or safety vehicle “as directed by safety personnel or a NASCAR Official”. It goes on to state: “At no time should a driver or crew member(s) approach any portion of the racing surface or apron” or another moving vehicle.
NASCAR did not give Danica Patrick any leniency in the amount of the fine as she was fined the same amount issued to Trevor Bayne last June for his actions at Dover International Speedway. Bayne was involved in a crash at the Monster Mile and once he exited his car, he did not wait for safety officials and he walked towards the racing surface.
This rule was put into place as a safety precaution for all racers after the 2014 sprint-car accident at a New York dirt track involving Tony Stewart and Kevin Ward Jr. After that accident, Kevin Ward Jr. walked towards the track to express his anger and unfortunately was hit by Stewart was killed.
Along with the $20,000 fine, Danica has also been place on probation for four races.
Kasey Kahne has apologized for the accident that cause Danica to finish 38th out of 39-car field. Kasey Kahne finished 28th. Kasey Kahne did take responsibility of the accident but said he meant to hold his line and position and not wreck Danica. Kahne apologized both mid-race over his radio communications, post-race after leaving the NASCAR hauler and post-race again through his personal Twitter account. Kasey Kahne was not penalized for the accident.
Danica Patrick was not the only NASCAR driver to be fined this week as Kyle Busch was fined $10,000 for disobeying a NASCAR directive to do post-race interviews after the Xfinity Series race Saturday. Busch blew a tire and finished second in that race.