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Danica Patrick (7) sent Sam Hornish Jr. (12) into the wall at Talladega after Hornish squeezed her on the final lap during the Aaron’s 312.
“I don’t know,” Patrick said when asked what had happened with Hornish. “He came up to me afterward and apologized. I’m not really sure.”
The two drivers have had a long-standing feud with each other. So, as you might expect, Hornish had a different point of view.
Hornish said his right-front tire began deflating after he made contact with Joe Nemechek on a restart. The tire went flat coming off Turn 4 and Hornish — who was being pushed by Elliott Sadler — said he couldn’t turn. He said he was unable to maneuver below Patrick as she took the high lane to the checkered flag.
“I was doing everything I could do,” said Hornish. “I was trying to wave off Elliott to get him to quit pushing me. I couldn’t hold (the car) down where it was at, and I ended up getting in the wall before we ever even got to the start-finish line.”
Hornish said Patrick hit him on the cool down lap “while we were still going 160 mph.”
“I went over and said, ‘Hey, we had the right-front tire that went down, and I don’t appreciate getting turned after the race was over. She said, ‘Oh, I know your style,’ and I’m like, ‘Yeah, because I’m going to drive into the tri-oval wall way before the start-finish line to prove any kind of point. I don’t know. She’s got her head a little bit mixed up about what’s going on out there, I guess.”
Patrick was asked whether she knew Hornish had a flat tire.
“I don’t know if he did or didn’t,” she said. “But he apologized, so …”
“Any replay that shows us going into the tri-oval will show the splitter smoking (from the tire going flat),” Hornish said. “You wouldn’t drive into the tri-oval and go straight into the wall. I don’t know even know if she and I ever hit before that. I don’t understand how she thinks anyone would do that on purpose, but I don’t know.”
The rivalry between Hornish, 32, and Patrick, 30, dates back to when they were teenagers. In a go-kart race in 1995, Hornish claimed Patrick wrecked him entering the final corner.
They raced against each other for three seasons in the IndyCar Series. But Hornish left for NASCAR in 2008 because he felt unappreciated by Indy, which heavily promoted Patrick.
On Saturday, Patrick became the second woman to lead a lap in a NASCAR race and she ran in the top five for much of the race.
Hornish finished 12th and Patrick finished 13th.