Danica Patrick said she is glad to be getting back into a race car for the first time since the death of Dan Wheldon three weeks ago.
“It’s going to be nice to be able to get in the car,” she said Friday at Texas Motor Speedway, where she will run in a NASCAR Nationwide Series race on Saturday. “It was really nice to just have a couple of weeks off. It created some space from that weekend and those emotions.”
Wheldon died in a 15-car crash in the IZOD IndyCar Series finale on Oct. 16 at Las Vegas. Two hours later, when the drivers learned of Wheldon’s death, they decided not to continue the race and instead ran a five-lap tribute at the suggestion of IndyCar Series president Randy Bernard.
“At the drivers meeting, after we were told about Dan, we were having all kinds of conversations about how to continue, about two- and three-wide racing and trying to restrict things, and it was a very complicated conversation,” Patrick said. “Randy came in and said, ‘You guys can’t think straight. You’re going to go out, do a five-lap tribute, and we’re not going to run today.’ It was probably true. We couldn’t think straight. It was emotional, but it was nice to do.”
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Patrick’s No. 7 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet and helmet will carry a paint scheme memorializing Wheldon’s memory.
-- Carlos Mendez