It was the site of her historic run and the track where she feels most at home and last weekend, Danica Patrick returned to Daytona to take on the Super Speedway for the first time since she took the motorsports world by storm at the Daytona 500.
Although she didn’t lead laps last weekend at Daytona, Patrick ran has high as 2nd and looked like she was on her way to another top-10 finish until a last lap crash put her in 14th. The rear bumper of Patrick’s car came together with David Gilliland, triggering a multi-car accident as the pack came to the start-finish line collecting 10 cars in total. Patrick’s car received significant damage but she was able to drive it to the garage.
“Well, a green-white-checkered finish is always exciting,” Patrick said after the race. “Junior and I had a good run through the middle and then up high around (turn) four. And I just watched the replay. It felt like I ran just along the wall but it could have been me that came down in front of the No. 38 (Gilliland). It definitely wasn’t what I was trying to do at all. I was just following the No. 88 (Earnhardt Jr.). So, if that’s what happened, then I definitely apologize. I lost spots doing it,” she continued. “All in all, it was a solid day. I felt like we were a little slow to get going but I felt like we made the car better and I felt like I figured out some things in the car that helped. We got the GoDaddy car in a decent position. We ran strong and that’s what we want to do. I thought the Chevys looked really good in the race.”
Patrick had many alliances throughout the race including race winner Jimmie Johnson who relayed through his spotter that he wanted her to follow him on a restart when she was sitting right behind him. Johnson waited for Patrick to clear the car beside her before he changed lanes, allowing Patrick to follow and run second for many laps.
There is one more plate track race this season when the series heads to Talladega later in the season and it should be another great showing for Patrick and the GoDaddy team.
This weekend, the team heads to New Hampshire. This will mark the first time that Patrick has been to Loudon in the Sprint Cup Series but her Crew Chief Tony Gibson hasn’t missed a race at the track since NASCAR started competing there in 1993 and took Ryan Newman to Victory Lane back in 2011.
This weekend, he has his Rookie Driver behind the wheel and hopes that his experience at the track and Patrick’s ability to absorb information and learn plus the testing they did back in June will help them get another great finish as they head into the off week.
“The test went really good. The first day was her kind of learning the track and learning the Cup car. The second day, she got up to speed pretty good and was only a tenth or a couple tenths off the fast guys, so we felt better about it and she felt much more comfortable. It ended up pretty good,” Gibson said.
Patrick is hoping for another great finish this weekend. In the last 5 races, Patrick has two top-15 finishes and finished on the lead lap. Ending on a good finish before the break will be good motivation for Patrick and the GoDaddy team.
Patrick is definitely happy with the progress she and her team are making this season but wishes the progress would happen a little faster.
“Yeah, I mean, it is getting better. Do I wish it would get better faster? For sure. I mean, everybody who is not running in the top-10 every weekend wishes it would get better faster. It’s small steps, and part of it is being a rookie and learning,” she said in a press release. “Part of it is just making changes and making the car better or making things better internally so that you can go faster. Faster cars, all that kind of stuff, so there is a lot more that plays into it than just getting experience. Through getting experience on the track I’m also getting experience and understanding how a team works and giving my input on how I think it could get better.”
After this weekend, the Sprint Cup Series enters its first off week since April. Patrick will be on hand next week for the ESPY Awards in LA then off to Chicago for a wedding with her family. When the series returns to competition, Patrick will be heading to a place where she shot herself to celebrity status back in 2005; Indianapolis Motor Speedway.