After a rough start to the Fed-Ex 400 left Patrick multiple laps down, it turned out not to be such a bad day after all once the checkered flag flew.
Patrick started the race in 39th and after a few laps, was up to 34th and rising. Lap 37 was when everything came to a halt. Racing hard with David Stremme for position, Patrick made contact with his left rear and cut the tire on her GoDaddy machine sending her to the pits early in the race for new tires and repairs to the No. 10.
“It was one of those Martinsville-like deals, where we got all bunched up and I had no option but to keep the steering wheel straight or else we both would’ve gotten taken out,” Patrick said over the radio.
After coming out of the pits 41st and three laps down, Patrick’s day started to look up. She gained 17 spots throughout the final 360 laps and lost only one more lap to the leaders. She left Dover with a 24th place finish.
“I definitely didn’t make our day start off right by getting into the 30 in (turns) three and four and getting a cut tire, we were only 30 or so laps into the run,” she said in a press release after the race. “It made for a long day, but it didn’t mean that the GoDaddy team gave up. We still salvaged points, of course. That’s what we have to keep doing – learning and finishing all of these races so I can get better.”
Patrick’s teammate and car owner Tony Stewart came away with the win at Dover which is a major boost for Stewart-Haas Racing.
The series head to Pocono for a stand-alone event this week and this will mark Patrick’s first race, in any series, at the track. Stewart-Haas Racing was one of the teams scheduled at the test at Pocono a few weeks ago which allowed Patrick to log her first laps at the track.
Pocono is often referred to as the Indy of the East due to its similarities to Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Its turns were made to resemble those at Indy and also those at Daytona, two of Patrick’s best tracks, leaving her excited to race here for the first time.
“It seems like a neat place, definitely a unique track. I’m looking forward to it, and I’m glad that we tested so I was able to get familiar with the place before coming back this week,” she said in a press release. “These official tests are really, really helpful for people like me who still had yet to be to certain tracks. This is the last track that I hadn’t been to, so it’s good that we tested.”
Patrick has been learning a lot from her fellow teammates as well. “I poke my head in the car and ask both of them how it’s going. Questions like, ‘Can you carry the brake in there very deep?’ If they are shifting in all the corners right now – just braking markers and things like that. Having them around is helpful but, to be honest, really having their data to look at and be able to just kind of look at their braking points and their brake pressure, minimum speed through the corner and things like that – that’s the stuff that is the most helpful, she said.
Patrick was seen in Victory Lane giving her boss a well-deserved hug at Dover after his win. With the struggles that SHR has had this season, the Victory may have been with the No.14 team, but it was a victory for the entire organization. “I was happy for him and I was happy for the team. It’s been a struggle for everyone this year,” she said, “but everyone has worked really, really hard. The drivers, the crew chiefs, the engineers, everyone at the shop – everyone on the team is working extra hard to get better. To get a victory is huge for the team. It gets the momentum going in the right direction and I’m sure it will make everyone work even harder. I think it was something that was needed.”
Watch out for Patrick this weekend at Pocono. The team is high on momentum with Stewart’s win last weekend and Pocono has been known to treat Rookie drivers pretty well; especially those who get along with Indianapolis and Daytona.