If Danica Patrick wanted to make an impression at Daytona, she certainly managed that: a head-on impact into the infield SAFER barrier at almost full speed during the first Gatorade Duel made even hardened veterans of the series wince in sympathy.
But Danica insisted that the Thursday crash wouldn't affect her performance in Saturday's Nationwide Series race or in Sunday's Daytona 500, which she will have to start from the rear of the field as a result of needing to take to her back-up car.
"We are not average people," she pointed out. "We race, I'm not saying we crash for a living, but it is part of racing for a living ... Do I like crashing? Of course not. I don't think anybody likes crashing, but it's part of the business and it's part of big pack racing like this."
Right up to the crash itself, Patrick had been enjoying the race and learning all the time. "It was good to run around and see even when I was further back to see how things happened, how lines moved and people used each other," she said. "I was relaxed in the car and I felt good. I felt comfortable. I feel more ready for Sunday."
She can take some reassurance that her first big wreck in the Sprint Cup series was nothing to do with her and that she was purely in the wrong place at the wrong time. "The first car hits the second car, as the second car hits the third car and then you know I was the third car. Sometimes there is just nothing you can do ... It is what it is. Honestly, that stuff happens. Everybody is getting greedy right at the end. To be honest I'm surprised it didn't happen at lap 10."
Replays showed that up ahead, Jamie McMurray had started to wobble through the corner, which knocked Aric Almirola down into Patrick and sent her flying off into the infield. It had all happened so fast that not even those involved had known what caused it until they saw the footage, with Almirola originally thinking he'd been turned by Patrick from behind.
"At first he said I hit his left-rear corner and then I was like 'woah stop the tape I didn't hit anybody! I had the wheels straight.' I was a little mad by that, but then I said 'ok so you got hit and you came into me,", she said. "He then sent me a text later on and said he saw the accident and he's sorry that it ended up like that and that he had talked to Jamie."
Patrick was able to climb out unassisted from the wreck of the #10 and walk to the medical car, but admitted she'd taken a few knocks. "I hit my foot on the clutch, which is my fault because I moved the clutch pedal towards me. I hit my arm on the side of the seat because of the angle I went in on the right front."
She added that she had been a bit sore in the evening but that she was feeling better on Friday morning. "My husband is a physical therapist so he's got a lot of good tricks and we've got a lot of good tricks on the bus to take care of things that don't feel right," she said. "That is why I feel better today."