Danica Patrick shakes off bruise from steering wheel
Danica Patrick had a bruise on her arm from the steering wheel jerking upward in her hard crash into the Daytona International Speedway wall last Friday night. Patrick’s violent wreck was eerily similar to that of Eric McClure, who suffered a concussion and internal bruising in a crash in May at Talladega Superspeedway. In both accidents, the steering column jerked upward.
Patrick’s in-car camera caught the violent nature of the movement of the steering column and it appeared to come very close to her head as her body moved forward.
“I’ve got a (small) bruise on my arm,” Patrick said. “I feel like a wimp holding it up. … It’s there. That’s from when the steering wheel flew up.”
NASCAR officials went to the JR Motorsports shop earlier in the week to make sure everything did what it was supposed to do, and NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton said there were no problems with the car. JR Motorsports crew chief and co-owner Tony Eury Jr. said it worked as designed.
He was real comfortable with what happened – the left side of the front of the car took the brunt of the hit, and the front clip went back about 12 inches, Eury Jr. said.
The actual steering shaft underneath the hood went through the firewall because it collapsed five inches and need another seven as the front clip moved.
“Basically once it hit the firewall, it got in a little bit of a bind and it loops over the mounting system on the dash,” Eury Jr. said. “If she had probably held on to the bottom of the steering shaft or just held the steering wheel, you probably wouldn’t have ever seen anything. “Just with the awkward bind that it got into, that was the easiest place for it to go. You’d always rather see that (it go upward) than go back towards the driver.”
There isn’t much the team can do to change the cars, Eury Jr. said. “The only way you can stop that is to make the shaft beside the motor break or wad up in a different way,” Eury Jr. said. “But then you’re asking that the next time I just barely bump the wall and the steering shaft breaks, then I’ve got a bigger problem.”
Patrick seemed OK with the explanations.
“From what I understand, all the systems worked accordingly and it did and everything is fine and it wasn’t something they’re going to have to go back and rectify or change and create differently,” Patrick said. “I think it was just the point of contact that it had and just the sheer speed that it hit at. … it was a good hit, or in (Eury Jr.’s) words, it was a ‘good lick.’" Sporting News