The Tricky Triangle was not kind to several drivers on Sunday afternoon, and Danica Patrick just so happened to be one of the racers leaving flustered.
Patrick was racing well on the day in Pocono—running as high as second at one point—but was undone by a cut left front tire that ended her day. The No. 10 car still wound up finishing just two laps down, but would have finished much higher than 37th at Pocono if not for that.
All in all, things didn't go well for Patrick's entire team. Stewart-Haas Racing had several drivers experience issues, but none worse than Patrick losing control and nearly ending her day on Lap 138.
The afternoon wasn't all bad for Patrick, though, who drove movie stars Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum around in the pace car at Pocono.
Luckily for Patrick, she's heading to a track where she has found success in the past. While she has never registered a top-10 result in Michigan, she holds an average finish of 18th at the track during her career.
With the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit heading to Michigan, here's a look at the latest news and current ranking for Patrick going into the 15th race of the season.
|Rank||Driver||Points||Wins||Top 5||Top 10|
|3||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||476||2||7||9|
|Pocono 400||Pocono Raceway||16||37|
|FedEx 400||Dover International Speedway||28||23|
|Coca-Cola 600||Charlotte Motor Speedway||4||39|
|5-Hour Energy 400||Kansas Speedway||9||7|
|Aaron's 499||Talladega Superspeedway||7||22|
|Toyota Owners 400||Richmond International Raceway||35||34|
|Bojangles' Southern 500||Darlington Raceway||33||22|
|Duck Commander 500||Texas Motor Speedway||24||27|
|STP 500||Martinsville Speedway||10||32|
|Auto Club 400||Auto Club Speedway||27||14|
|Food City 500||Bristol Motor Speedway||36||18|
|Kobalt 400||Las Vegas Motor Speedway||22||21|
|The Profit on CNBC 500||Phoenix International Raceway||33||36|
|Daytona 500||Daytona International Speedway||27||40|
So close, yet so far away. That seems to be how Patrick's season has gone thus far. But that's not only indicative of Patrick's year; it can also be said for SHR as a whole.
Outside of Kurt Busch, who finished third on Sunday, it was not a good day for Stewart-Haas. Tony Stewart received a speeding penalty in the pits and Kevin Harvick cut a tire as well, but both finished just outside the top 10.
Nate Ryan of USA Today points out just how poorly Sunday, and the year as a whole, have gone for SHR:
Last few laps were a mircrocosm of SHR's up-and-down season. Two fast cars neutralized by a flat tire and a pit speeding penalty. #nascar— Nate Ryan (@nateryan) June 8, 2014
Where will Patrick finish at Michigan?
Sunday wasn't only rough for the Stewart-Haas team, as drivers like Matt Kenseth, Kasey Kahne and Kyle Busch also experienced issues that derailed their day. While some of the issues for both Stewart and Harvick came early enough in the race to recover, Patrick had just 22 laps to make up the difference.
Rather than falling off the pace in Pocono during just her third race at the track, Patrick was riddled with car troubles yet again. The 32-year-old was in second when the incident occurred, ending any chance of her first top-15 finish at Pocono.
While she wasn't able to come away with a good finish after the issues, Patrick still played a role in the finish of the race. Brad Keselowski tried to use her to knock off debris, but let up too much as Dale Earnhardt Jr. passed him for the win.
Patrick spoke about her frustrating finish to the race, via USA Today:
I just went into turn three, and the car just shot to the wall. It looks like the left front lost air for some reason. I believe (teammate Kevin) Harvick had the same thing happen to him. Goodyear said our cars had similar left front tire issues — lost air in tires and sidewalls bowed out.
It's disappointing because I think we could have had a good finish.
While the finish was disheartening for Patrick, she has some motivation heading into Michigan. The SHR driver has just one top-10 on the season, but might be in line for another strong finish this weekend.
Here's a look at Patrick's career statistics at Michigan:
|Date||Start||Finish||Laps Led||Driver Rating||Status|
|June 16, 2013||37||13||0||69.2||Running|
|Aug. 18, 2013||28||23||0||52.9||Running|
Last season, Patrick put together one of her best races, finishing 13th on June 16 in this exact race. Still holding onto a seventh-place result from Kansas one month ago, Patrick needs a good race in Michigan to regain any confidence this season.
The year has been a rough one for SHR, even with two drivers nearly locks to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup. If the season is going to completely turn around, Patrick will need multiple good races starting with Michigan on Sunday.
Predicted Finish: 14th
Follow R. Cory Smith on Twitter: