As Speedweeks came to a close with the 58th running of the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway, Danica Patrick left with much to be desired from her newly sponsored Nature’s Bakery No. 10 Chevy SS with Stewart-Haas Racing. This was Patrick’s first event with the snack and food brand sponsor as well as crew chief Billy Scott. The two had never worked together until the February 13th Sprint Unlimited, but the communication seemed fluent between them all weekend. Unfortunately, everything else didn’t go as planned.
Patrick takes damage in the Sprint Unlimited race
Patrick, whose 2013 Daytona 500 pole position earned her a spot in the Sprint Unlimited, started the race in 12th and despite multiple incidents finished in 11th position. She had made her way towards the front of the pack at one point, but a sudden decrease in speed by the No. 31 caused her to make contact ending in major grille damage. After fixing the majority of the problem during yellow flag pit stops, the No. 10 was caught up in a multi-car incident leading to right-front damage once again. Fortunately, for the team the car was able to continue and finished the race. In a post-race interview Patrick didn’t show much excitement about the on track activity.
That’s just speedway racing. I feel really good about how tonight went.”
Danica Patrick | Thursday’s Can-Am Duel
More trouble was ahead for the Stewart-Hass Racing team in Thursday’s qualifying race, the Can-Am Duel, for the Daytona 500. Starting in the 14th position Patrick was in a great place to fine tune the team’s plan. That is until she was once again caught up in a multi-car accident, however, only sustaining minor damage from a spin in oil after moving to avoid the carnage happening in front of her car. Being that this happened on the final lap she was able to take the checkered flag and because of the NASCAR caution rules she was given a 7th place finish. Patrick was optimistic that her team would be able to repair her car before the big day.
Hopefully, nothing is wrong with the car and we can just hammer on it a little bit, get it where it needs to be, change out the engine and get ready for the 500.”
Danica Patrick’s Daytona 500 efforts
Finally, it was time for the main event. The event race fans from all around the nation come to the sunshine state to watch, The Daytona 500. Patrick began the race in 16th position, but after a green-flag pit stop causing a pass-through penalty due to crew members being over the wall before permitted by the guidelines, she was back on track without any help from the draft. Quickly, she found herself a lap down and during the next caution was just out of reach for the “Lucky Dog” which would have put her back on the lead lap.
It (the penalty) put us in a position of being aggressive at the wrong time in the race against cars you don’t always want to be aggressive with” said Patrick.
Unfortunately, left-rear contact was made with the No. 16 car, of Greg Biffle, causing Patrick to go airborne and spinning into the infield ultimately ending her day with a 35th position finish and only earning six points towards the chase.
As if Danica needed anything else to go wrong during the first race of the season, The King himself, Mr. Richard Petty, thought he would add insult to injury. He’s always been a tough critic of hers and very vocal in regards to her NASCAR career. In an interview with Yahoo Sports he once again expressed his opinion.
“She ain’t gotten no better or no worse.”
Although, a rough start to the season, Danica Patrick has the tools, the car, and the team to have a great year. Next week she’ll show what she’s got in Atlanta!
What do you think of her Speedweek efforts and the King’s comments?