FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — NASCAR #7 Nationwide Race Car Driver Danica Patrick spent part of her Thursday in Fort Worth. She is in town for the AAA Texas 500 at the Texas Motor Speedway.
Thursday Patrick said has only one regret about purposely bumping Landon Cassill in her last race.
“I still think it was important for me to stand up for myself, and I wouldn’t change it,” Patrick said Thursday. “I would change my execution of the actual incident. I didn’t do a very good job with that, but I guess there’s only one way to learn, is to try. It’s just not that easy to take someone out.”
When Patrick spun Cassill in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Kansas two weeks ago, she wrecked her own ride. While Cassil saved his No. 83 car, Patrick slammed hard into the wall and ended her race.
Patrick was on the lead lap early at Kansas when she said Cassill slammed into her on the front straight, and on his radio said, “She was in the way.” So when Cassill’s car slid in front of her, she decided to nudge him. Both of the cars spun out.
Later on his radio, Cassill said, “Rule No. 1 in stock car racing is learn how to wreck someone without wrecking yourself.”
Patrick offered no apology and said there have been no conversations with Cassill since Kansas.
“I left it,” she said. “If he wants to talk to me, fine. I don’t really have much to say. I think the actions speak louder than the words, to be honest.”
While she hopes she “won’t have to do much of that anymore,” Patrick believes it was an important step in earning respect and moving forward.
After a weekend off, with no Nationwide race and not running the Cup race at Martinsville, Patrick is scheduled to run in both series this week at Texas Motor Speedway.
“I welcome weekends off, they’re always nice,” she said. “The best thing to move on with news is to start racing again. … The best thing I can do is just get on the track and get going and make another storyline.”
Patrick was in Texas early for several appearances, including talking to about 1,500 elementary school children during an assembly at the track Thursday to recognize those who participated in a “Speeding to Read” educational program.
It was at the fall race in Texas last year when Stewart-Haas Racing unveiled Patrick’s limited first-year Sprint Cup schedule. Sunday’s race at Texas will be the ninth of her 10 races co-owner Tony Stewart picked for this season in preparation for Patrick going full-time in the Cup next year.
Her best finish in the No. 10 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet was 25th at Chicago. She hasn’t finished a race on the lead lap, and was 32nd at Kansas, but the purpose of the season was to get some experience.
“It was great that Tony picked the difficult races, because it got them out of the way, and they also built my confidence up to be honest because some of them went relatively well,” Patrick said. “So I think that makes me feel better moving forward into next year, and there will be a lot less stress going back to these places that are sort of daunting and unique, and I’ll be better for it.”
Tony Gibson will take over as crew chief for Patrick over the last two races this season, at Texas and Phoenix, to get a jump on the 2013 season. They will be working together for the first time Friday for practice and qualifying at Texas, though Gibson has been with Stewart-Haas and around Patrick.
“I feel like he always has listened to me. He’s been really respectful and I get along with him great,” Patrick said. “He’s very smart, and just even the information I got before this weekend started of what to expect with the weekend itself, and the car and the date and the information, he’s really sharp.
“I look forward to getting on with our relationship, with the work that we have to do,” she said. “Because we have a big job ahead of us, and it’s nice to get started now.”
(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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