Monday, October 17, 2005
Patrick physically confronts Lazier after crash
ESPN.com news services
Their Toyota Indy 400 runs ended in a crash Sunday, but the action between Danica Patrick and Jaques Lazier didn't end on the track.
Afterward, fingers were pointing and poking ... and maybe even punching. And before this one's over, IndyCar promises to have a hand in it.
Patrick, who spent most of the day hovering near the back of the top 10, saw her rookie-of-the-year season end in a jarring crash with Lazier that brought out the fourth and final caution flag just 16 laps from the end of the 200-lap event.
"The first person I saw after the accident was Jaques and that wasn't a good thing," Patrick told the Long Beach Press-Telegram. "I confronted him. I told him how I felt. I was mad at him."
Once the two drivers were in the rescue vehicle after the crash, Lazier initially said that Patrick punched him in the head. Lazier later recanted, going along with Patrick's explanation of a poke to the forehead.
Brent Maurer, a spokesman for Patrick's Rahal Letterman Racing
team, said the driver told him she tapped Lazier on the forehead
with two fingers and said, "You've got to use this."
"Look, we had a difference of opinion about what happened, and we were both emotional," Lazier told the Indianapolis Star on Sunday evening. "If she said she hit me on the temple with her fingers, that's fine. It doesn't matter."
"My son hits harder than she does," Lazier, whose son Kayden is 4, told the Press-Telegram.
An IndyCar spokesman promised an investigation.
"There are two sides to every story," IndyCar spokesman John Griffin told the Press-Telegram. "We will investigate."
Patrick reportedly was appalled by the accusation of a punch. She claimed she was telling him to use his head.
"So you're telling me that Jaques is saying he got beat up by a girl?" Patrick told the Star through a Rahal Letterman Racing spokesperson.
Dr. Kevin Scheid was driving the rescue vehicle and told the two drivers to settle down. But he would not settle the punch/poke debate.
"I'm not going to break that tie," he told the Star, laughing.
Patrick, who came away from the crash with a sore left elbow, and Lazier, who was not injured, came together and both spun and slammed hard into the wall. Each blamed the other for the crash that set up the dramatic finish.
"That's not the way I wanted to finish my season," Patrick said. "I was on my radio all day about him. He was all over the track even when he was running by himself. No wonder he jumps around from team to team. Needless to say, I'm pretty frustrated."
Lazier said Patrick was the one at fault for continually pinching his car down in the corners.
"She didn't want to give me any room," Lazier said.
Running a pink paint scheme in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness didn't change Target/Ganassi Racing's luck because Lazier's crash was unofficially the 28th of the season for the team. Steve Chassey, an insurance executive who raced Indy cars in the 1970s and '80s, estimated Ganassi's crash damage tab for the season is higher than for the entire Champ Car World Series field.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.