Danica Patrick not sure of penalty

CONCORD, N.C. -- Danica Patrick said Thursday she isn't sure if NASCAR will penalize her for intentionally wrecking Sam Hornish Jr. at Talladega Superspeedway.

Patrick was angry after Hornish ran her up the track on the last lap of the Nationwide Series race. She retaliated on the cool-down lap, but insisted her intent was only to hit Hornish to show her displeasure.

After watching a replay of the accident, she called both Hornish and Nationwide Series director Joe Balash. She also exchanged emails with Hornish team owner Roger Penske.

"I was definitely surprised he hit the wall; that was completely unintentional," she said during an appearance for new sponsor Coca-Cola at Charlotte Motor Speedway. "Sam didn't mean to put me in the wall, either. We're both good, and I know we're both looking forward to Darlington."

Patrick was not called to the NASCAR hauler after the race, and has not been punished for her actions. She wasn't sure if that will change once she arrives Friday at Darlington Raceway.

"I have no idea," she said. "That's not my department. I don't make those kinds of decisions. That's up to NASCAR and the things that they look at, and the things they take into consideration."

There's been grumbling among fans about NASCAR officials not even speaking to Patrick after Saturday's race, mainly because Kyle Busch was parked for an entire weekend last November for intentionally wrecking Ron Hornaday Jr. under caution at Texas.

In disciplining Busch, NASCAR president Mike Helton repeated several times that Busch was parked specifically for the Hornaday incident and it was not a penalty based on overall body of work. Some fans contend Patrick should also have been subjected to a penalty under that premise.

Meanwhile, Ryan Newman also wondered about NASCAR inconsistencies after team owner Tony Stewart went unpunished for his tongue-and-cheek critique of Sunday's race at Talladega. Newman, who was also at the Coca-Cola appearance on Thursday, was fined two years ago by NASCAR for critical remarks about the same track.

The difference? Stewart was clearly being sarcastic when he said, among other things, that "I feel bad that, as drivers, we couldn't do a better job of crashing enough cars for them today."

Said Newman: "I guess there's a difference when you hold a straight face versus and when you don't. I didn't see much difference in what he said versus what I said. I know NASCAR has supposedly changed their ways a little bit."

Stewart concluded his session on Sunday by suggesting NASCAR turn Talladega into a figure eight. Newman offered a different solution -- moving the race from Talladega to Barber Motorsports in Leeds, Ala.

"Go to Barber Motorsports Park and have a third road-course race," Newman said. "To me, that's the best option (or) take the banking out. We could go out there and run rental cars and run 75 miles an hour and make it a 100-mile race and put on a good show."