In NASCAR, sometimes you have to take the good with the bad.
For Danica Patrick, she had a little of both on Sunday during the Coke Zero 400. But despite some tough luck, she was fortunate enough to capture her third career top-10 finish after avoiding the second "Big One" at Daytona.
Prior to steering clear of the massive wreck late in the race, Patrick was involved in the first crash and incurred some damage. But with many of the top drivers like Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards and Patrick's owner Tony Stewart out of the race, she navigated her way back near the front before the end of the race.
Following another top-10 result for Patrick, she now heads to a course where she's never finished 20th or better. In the race last July, she also sparked an accident that involved her boyfriend, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and put her in 37th.
Before the Sprint Cup circuit gets underway at New Hampshire, here's a look at the latest news and outlook for Patrick in the Camping World RV Sales 301.
|Pos.||Driver||Points||Wins||Top 5||Top 10|
|2||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||624||2||9||12|
|Coke Zero 400||Daytona International Speedway||29||8|
|Quaker State 400||Kentucky Speedway||10||21|
|Toyota/Save Mart 350||Sonoma Raceway||11||18|
|Quicken Loans 400||Michigan International Speedway||27||17|
|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|
After rain on Saturday night that led to the Coke Zero 400 taking place on Sunday, two more delays due to showers led to the race ending after just 112 laps.
While Aric Almirola shocked NASCAR fans by earning his first victory, several others in the top 10 were equally as surprising. Names like Casey Mears, Austin Dillon and Michael McDowell all avoided disaster to join Patrick in the top 10.
Patrick, who survived two wrecks that involved a combined 42 cars, spoke about her performance on Sunday, per Jeff Olson of USA Today:
It's been a crazy day. I can't believe we finished eighth.
The car was fast. It has just been a matter of attrition and getting a little lucky and making it through things. We were in two crashes and the car has been OK to keep going, which is hard to do here at Daytona because the splitter height is so critical.
The first of the two accidents collected a total of 16 machines, with Patrick receiving minimal damage. In fact, Stewart-Haas Racing took a look at the left front tire that was cut during the Big One:
While the wreck clearly didn't affect Patrick much at the time, what happened after the pileup could make things interesting.
Stewart, Patrick's team owner, was taken out during the wreck that was apparently started by Stenhouse. The three-time Sprint Cup champion then put the blame on Patrick's boyfriend, per Marty Smith of ESPN:
Smoke: "Quarter-lap from competition caution and Stenhouse was gonna be a hero. Took out a bunch of good cars for no reason."— Marty Smith (@MartySmithESPN) July 6, 2014
Stewart then backed off of the original rant just a bit, per Jim Noble of PRN:
Stewart on Stenhouse: "I love him like a little brother, but he really scares me sometimes" #NASCAR— Jim Noble (@Noble_Jim) July 6, 2014
Needless to say, that should make for some interesting conversations around the SHR garage in the coming days.
As for Patrick on the track, she was able to rally and return near the front. At her highest point, Patrick reached the fourth position, but she experienced an issue that was self-inflicted as she dropped several places.
During a pit stop, Patrick missed her pit box and was forced to hit reverse before her crew was able to work on the car. Brant James of ESPN.com breaks down exactly what happened to the No. 10 driver during the mishap:
Overshooting pit box devastating for Danica Patrick. Was 8th. Now 30th and seeking draft help. #NASCAR— brant james (@brantjames) July 6, 2014
Where will Patrick finish at New Hampshire?
Instead of getting drafting help, she would navigate her way around another multicar pileup and pass over those involved to finish inside the top 10. It might not have been all her doing, but making it through the 26-car accident was no easy feat for any driver at Daytona.
All in all, Patrick came away with her third finish of eighth or higher, but she will need more luck to do the same in New Hampshire. Of the 23 courses on the Sprint Cup circuit, Patrick's average finish of 32nd makes New Hampshire the second-worst track for her in two races thus far.
Here's a look at her career results at New Hampshire:
|Date||Start||Finish||Laps Led||Driver Rating||Status|
|Sept. 28, 2013||21||27||0||57.1||Running|
|July 14, 2013||32||37||0||47.7||Accident|
Though she was able to finish the Chase race at New Hampshire last September, the results weren't drastically better. Without a top-20 finish at the track, the chances of Patrick doing so this time on the flat track don't look great.
While anything is possible at the flat track, it doesn't look likely that Patrick will have another strong race. After posting poor results at similar tracks like Dover and Phoenix earlier this season, Patrick's luck might just run out this weekend at the one-mile track.
Predicted Finish: 25th
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