10/09/10 Danica Patrick was headed to her best NASCAR finish by far Saturday afternoon when her car was struck from behind nine laps from the finish, knocking her out of the Nationwide Series' CampingWorld.com 300. Her No. 7 Chevrolet was running 14th, and on the lead lap, when it was turned around by NASCAR rookie James Buescher's No. 11 Toyota coming out of Turn 2 on the 2-mile Auto Club Speedway in an accident that also collected Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Ricky Carmichael.
"We were all just pushing hard at the end," said Patrick, whose best Nationwide finish remains 24th at Chicagoland. "On that restart, I kind of got high into that car (Buescer's) that turned me. I didn't mean to, it was totally my fault."
A lap later, Buescher tapped her car from behind, starting the accident that knocked Patrick and Carmichael (who had charged from 38th to 17th) out of the race.
"I think the best thing for everyone to do is watch the video," Patrick said, when asked if she would talk to Buescher. "It was avoidable."
Buescher, who himself was only making his 20th Nationwide start, and had been penalized on Lap 90 by NASCAR for entering the pits before they were open, said the accident was Patrick's fault, because she drifted up the track in front of him.
"It's not intentional, but you're driving hard, it's late and no one is going to lift," Buescher said.
The day before, ESPN analyst and Sprint Cup team co-owner Brad Daugherty had complimented Patrick, but said her transition to stock-car racing in the heavier cars would remain difficult as long as she kept going back and forth from IndyCar to NASCAR.
"I have a lot of respect for her," Daugherty said. "She came into this open-minded, and willing to learn. I admire her for her tenacity. As she gains experience, I hope it adds to success for her, because she adds to our sport.
"The trouble is, she's finding out how difficult it is to do both (series). It (stock-car) racing is a different discipline. These cars don't want to turn, and you have to learn how to set them up so you can drive them. It's all a matter of getting used to these cars, and how they don't want to change direction unless you know how to make them do it."
Patrick said Saturday's accident "was a pretty big hit," but she was glad she was in a stock car, not an open-wheeled racer, when it happened. "As I've been saying, the whole point about this is, I've got fenders and I'm learning how to use them."
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