Radiators weren’t the only things running hot last weekend at the Talladega Superspeedway.
Danica Patrick knocked former Indy-car buddy Sam Hornish Jr. into the wall following Saturday’s Nationwide Series race and Tony Stewart lashed out at NASCAR’s new cooling rules following Sunday’s race.
The new rules included a smaller grille opening and smaller radiator to keep drivers from running nose-to-tail in two car tandems. Add that to the already anxious style of racing in three-wide and 10-deep packs of traffic with no margin for error, and it pushed a lot of people to the brink.
For Patrick, it came on the final lap. Her green Chevrolet was pinched into the outside wall by Hornish as they came to the while flag. She was so upset she rear-ended him after the race, sending his Dodge crashing into the first turn wall.
After the race, Hornish said he had a flat tire and that caused his car to turn into Patrick. That same flat, Patrick said, is the reason by her bump sent his car into the wall.
“I went up to give him a tap (to say), ‘I’m not happy with the fact you put me in the wall coming to the checkered flag,’” Patrick told USA Today. “Since his right front was flat, he turned to the right when I tapped him.”
NASCAR said it won’t fine Patrick, but the sanctioning body has told both drivers it wants to talk to them before practice opens for Friday’s race at the Darlington Raceway.
Stewart also won’t be fined for making sarcastic, and clearly critical, remarks on the new cooling package.
“The racing was awesome,” he said. “It’s fun to be able to race and have to watch the gauges at the same time. It makes us as drivers have to do so much more. Being able to make yourself run on the apron and everything else to try to get clean air, it makes it fun. I’m sorry we couldn’t crash more cars today. We didn’t fill the quota for today for Talladega and NASCAR.”
Stewart then said NASCAR should close off the radiator to promote more engine failures and accidents.
“I think they need to close it down. Honestly, I think if we haven’t crashed at least 50 percent of the field by the end of the race, we need to extend the race until we at least crash 50 percent of the cars because it’s not fair to these fans for them to not see any more wrecks than that and more torn up cars,” he said.
A NASCAR spokesman said the reason Stewart won’t be fined like others who’ve publicly criticized NASCAR is his words better reflected his frustrations with his car, not the sanctioning body.
McClure to make recovery
Eric McClure was released from a Birmingham, Ala., hospital Monday and is expected to make a full recovery from a concussion and internal bruising follow a vicious head-on collision with the backstretch wall at the Talladega Superspeedway.
While he will travel to Friday’s race at the Darlington Raceway, he doesn’t know if he will be cleared by his TriStar Motorsports team or NASCAR to return behind the wheel of the No. 14 Chevrolet.
McClure’s car veered left and seemed to accelerate as it struck the wall at nearly 180 mph during last Saturday’s Nationwide Series race.
He was cut from the car and airlifted to the hospital. He spent two days undergoing tests, but was allowed to go home Monday.