Danica Patrick: Latest News and 2014 Sprint Cup Ranking Heading into Kobalt 400

R. Cory Smith@@RCorySmithSenior Writer IMarch 4, 2014

Danica Patrick makes a pit stop during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race Sunday, March 2, 2014, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

Another weekend, another crash for Danica Patrick.

Despite her best efforts, Patrick's No. 10 car continues to find trouble as she has wrecked in both regular-season races thus far.   

A wreck in the Daytona 500 smashed any chances Patrick had of a good start to the season as she wound up in a crash that placed her 40th. That wreck came on the heels of a wreck with boyfriend Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in the Sprint Unlimited race the week prior.

In the second race of the season, Patrick was able to stay on the track at The Profit on CNBC 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, but it wasn't without suffering damage.

Following yet another poor performance in Phoenix, Patrick sits at 39th in the Sprint Cup standings. The second-year NASCAR driver is sandwiched between rookie Michael Annett and just two points ahead of Michael McDowell, who didn't race in the Daytona 500.

With two disappointing races under her belt, Patrick will move forward at the Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with hopes that she can turn her season around.

Here is a look at the latest news on Patrick heading into the third race of the season.

2014 Sprint Cup Standings
PositionDriverCarPointsWinsTop 5Top 10
1Dale Earnhardt Jr.8890122
2Brad Keselowski284022
3Jeff Gordon2480022
4Kevin Harvick479111
5Jimmie Johnson4878012
6Joey Logano2275011
7Matt Kenseth2070001
8Denny Hamlin1168011
9Carl Edwards9965001
10Greg Biffle1664001
39Danica Patrick1013000
2014 Sprint Cup Results
The Profit on CNBC 500Phoenix International Raceway3336
Daytona 500Daytona International Speedway2740

Danica Patrick News


Throughout her career, Patrick has never held punches when she feels she has been wronged.

And after being spun out by Justin Allgaier in the No. 51 car at Phoenix, Patrick made it known she was none too happy with his driving. Bob Pockrass of Sporting News described the confrontation between the two drivers following the race:

Patrick, angry at Justin Allgaier for contact on Lap 171, made a beeline for Allgaier after the race. They talked behind Allgaier’s car in the cramped garage for three or four minutes. It appeared to be a somewhat animated, tense conversation.

The 31-year-old driver decided not to comment on the situation following the performance, but did voice her frustration about Allgaier during the race and in a statement following the finish, per Pockrass:

The damn 51 was driving like a complete jackass. I’m not at all surprised we wrecked.

[...] It’s tough. That’s two weeks in a row we’ve had good cars and nothing to show for it. The car was good all day, we just needed track position. I’m starting to think if we didn’t have bad luck, we’d have no luck at all.

The GoDaddy guys built me a great car for the second week in a row. I hate it for them and I hate it for GoDaddy. This is obviously an important race for them. Hopefully things turn around in Las Vegas.

Needless to say, Patrick was a bit fired up with Allgaier, but was clearly more upset that she wasn't able to put the car in a good position to win.

Meanwhile, Allgaier finished in 30th with a damaged car after placing 27th in the Daytona 500. He explained his side of the situation, per Pockrass:

She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had. She said she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point.

I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars; it doesn’t fix either one of our days.

It's certainly not the start to the season that Patrick wanted after finishing 27th in the points standings for 2013.

Jeff Owens of Sporting News gave his thoughts on Patrick's struggles through the first two races of the season:

A week after getting collected in a multicar crash at Daytona, Patrick wrecked twice at Phoenix. She was so frustrated this time that she confronted rookie Justin Allgaier after the race. Not a good start to the season for a polarizing driver who desperately needs something positive to happen.

With two finishes outside the top 20 and even top 30, Patrick is becoming dangerously close to missing races. Following the third race of the season with the Kobalt 400 coming up, owner points begin to determine the starting order for the field each week.

Patrick currently sits at 41st in owner points and could miss a start if she doesn't qualify in the top 36 based on speed. With a new group qualifying format, Patrick can't just get by as the fastest driver with no one else on the track.

If there's one positive for Patrick, it's that she finished higher in last year's race at Las Vegas than any race she has started this season. Unfortunately, that was a 33rd-place result after meeting a similar fate in Phoenix, wrecking on the 184th lap.

With just one start at the track, Patrick doesn't have a lot of experience in Las Vegas. But with her back against the wall and needing to improve her ranking in owner points, Patrick will do everything she can to get into the top 20 this weekend.  

Predicted finish: 17th

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