Sam Hornish Jr. and Danica Patrick, two drivers who have been having at it since their days of racing go-karts against each other as kids, had another incident on Saturday, with Patrick getting the worst of it.
In Saturday’s 5-Hour Energy NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Dover International Speedway, Hornish, Patrick and Brad Sweet attempted to go three-wide into Turn 4 on Lap 133 of the 200-lap race. The track had just gone green on Lap 130 after a previous caution.
The three-wide maneuver proved to be spectacularly ill-advised for all concerned.
Hornish, who was on the bottom of the track, slid upwards, the right-front fender of his No. 12 Penske Racing Dodge clipping the left rear of Patrick’s No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet. That shoved Patrick into Sweet’s No. 38 Turner Motorsports Chevy, with the two of them going into the outside wall on the frontstretch.
Patrick had extensive damage and had to go to the garage, finishing 30th to Sweet’s 23rd and a 13th-place final result for Hornish.
“We were all going gangbusters on the restart,” Patrick said. “The tires were so good, so you try and use them. I was racing the car in front of me and you know, the car behind me was racing me. I’d have to see it (the crash) to know (the cause). More than anything, it was just kind of a bummer because I was just starting to get into the rhythm, I think.”
Like many drivers on the day, Patrick found the concrete, one-mile oval — nicknamed the Monster Mile — to be challenging.
“I struggled a lot at the beginning,” Patrick said. “The slower you go, the looser it is, because the car is up and off the track. So once I finally just stopped using the brake so much I got going a little bit faster.”
As for Hornish, he took partial responsibility for the incident.
“Danica slid up off the bottom a little bit, I got underneath her to try to be able to get the pass done,” said Hornish. “I didn’t know there was another car on the outside of her. Now, in retrospect, I see why she was holding me down as far as she was.”
Hornish said he hit the apron in Turn 4, which upset the balance of his car and pushed it up the track into Patrick.
“I’m trying to stay off of her and I clipped the apron just a little bit and it was just enough to kick the back end out,” Hornish said. “It was one of those deals where I felt we could have all given each other a little more racing room. I obviously didn’t take the brunt of that and I feel bad for her and Brad Sweet for their days not working out as well. I’ll have to apologize to both of them for my part in it. I don’t feel like I was 100 percent to blame.”
Patrick and Hornish most recently tangled at Talladega Superspeedway, where Hornish had a flat tire and ran into Patrick, who in turn rammed Hornish and drove him into the wall after the race ended.
Through 12 NNS races this season, Hornish is fourth in points, 50 back of new leader Elliott Sadler, while Patrick is 11th, 176 behind Sadler.
Tom Jensen is the Editor in Chief of SPEED.com, Senior NASCAR Editor at RACER and a contributing Editor for TruckSeries.com. You can follow him online at twitter.com/tomjensen100.