- Associated Press - Saturday, February 25, 2012

DAYTONA BEACH, FLA. (AP) - Danica Patrick’s day started at the front of the pack. It ended with another frustrating wreck.

After starting from the pole position in Saturday’s Nationwide Series race at Daytona International Speedway, Patrick was caught in a crash when JR Motorsports teammate Cole Whitt nudged her rear bumper and sent her spinning into the wall.

Patrick vented her frustration on the radio with her team immediately after the wreck, then acknowledged after the race that she wanted an explanation.

“I don’t think it’s ever great when teammates come together,” Patrick said. “So we’ll have to figure out what happened and move forward.”

Whitt said he didn’t mean to wreck Patrick, saying the incident was a result of the bumper-to-bumper style of racing at Daytona.

“Yeah, I think we’ll be fine,” Whitt said. “I wouldn’t expect her to be happy about it. I wouldn’t be happy about it, either. I don’t know why anyone would expect her to be like, `Oh yeah, it’s great.’ We’re teammates. We want our teams to win. That’s why we’re trying to push each other anyways. We want to get our team up front together.”

Patrick eventually got back into the race after her crew made extensive repairs to her car in the garage area. She finished 38th in a wreck-filled race that was won by James Buescher.

Patrick began the 300-mile event up front after becoming the first woman to win a NASCAR pole position since Shawna Robinson in 1994. She led at the start, spent the first part of the race in the top 10 before getting shuffled out of the draft and falling deeper in the field before the tap by Whitt.

“Well, we were just doing big pack racing and went down into (Turn) 3, got a little tap, got a little bit sideways, saved it, and then just got hit again and couldn’t save it,” Patrick said. “You guys saw the rest from there.”

Whitt said he just was trying to tandem draft.

“I got ahold of her in the corner, and that’s probably what turned her around,” Whitt said. “I got to her back bumper at the wrong spot at the wrong time, you know? So that’s about it.”

Crew chief Tony Eury Jr. didn’t think the incident would be a problem for the team.

“It’s unfortunate,” Eury said. “He got into her at the wrong place, and that’s the way it happens. It’s no big deal. Her and Cole can talk about it. It’s no hard feelings. We’re all a team here.”

Eury said Patrick was doing a good job in the draft early on.

“I was really happy with where she was at,” Eury said. “I wish we’d got to run some more and see what she had at the end because I think she’s really got something for these guys.”

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