It might be safe to assume, however, that no driver dreads such a nightmare scenario more than Danica Patrick.
Patrick, 30, recently started dating rookie driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 25, winner of two Nationwide Series titles. The couple will compete against each other this Sunday at Daytona International Speedway, where Patrick recently scored a historic victory, becoming the first woman to secure pole position in the annual NASCAR opener with a lap at 196.34 mph.
While many drivers take care to respect each other's space on the track, wrecks still aren't uncommon. Ryan Newman crashed in practice earlier this week, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. blew out his engine. Last year, Juan Pablo Montoya plowed into a jet dryer containing 200 gallons of kerosene, starting a fire on the track.
Should Stenhouse Jr. ever find himself in such a predicament, however, Patrick insists she wouldn’t let her emotions steer her judgment, she told us in an exclusive Men's Health interview, the day before her historic finish.
"I'm sure somebody would let me know that he'd walked away and was fine. I think I'd be able to focus on the race," she said. "We both understand that this is a dangerous sport. We know that things will happen, and we have faith in the safety of the cars and the tracks and the medical staff. If something did happen to him, there's nothing I could do to help. I'd just have to remember that everything that needed to be done to make him safe was being done.”
Patrick herself isn't a stranger to such a scenario -- in fact, she's known for actively courting such danger. In a highly publicized incident during the Sprint Cup race at Kansas City Speedway, she intentionally wrecked driver Landon Cassill, admitting later that the move was in retaliation for Cassill bumping her.
Asked if she would hesitate to do it again, Patrick said, "Absolutely not. And maybe next time I can take somebody out without wrecking myself. I'm only going to get better at it."
Perhaps Ricky's the one who should be worried about pulling over.
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