At the end of a trying weekend, Danica Patrick narrowly missed out on a top-20 finish at Watkins Glen.
The Stewart-Haas Racing driver went through an engine change after qualifying and subsequently wrecked that car on Friday. Despite starting from the back of the pack and in a backup car, Patrick still finished 21st—narrowly behind boyfriend Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Though 21st was far from what she needed, moving from the back to 21st proves she was competitive on the road course. Now she climbs back into the car at a track where she's enjoyed success throughout her career.
As the Sprint Cup circuit heads to Michigan, Patrick will happily return to the two-mile oval. Though the 32-year-old has never captured a top 10 at the track, she has averaged a top-20 finish in Michigan.
Here's a look at the latest results, ranking and news for Patrick ahead of the Pure Michigan 400.
|Danica Patrick 2014 Results|
|Cheez-It 355||Watkins Glen International||43||21|
|GoBowling.com 400||Pocono Raceway||10||30|
|Brickyard 400||Indianapolis Motor Speedway||14||42|
|Camping World RV Sales 301||New Hampshire Motor Speedway||29||22|
|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|
|2014 Sprint Cup Chase Grid|
|Pos.||Driver||Points||Wins||Top 5||Top 10|
|1||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||773||3||10||15|
A horrid weekend for SHR saw some troubles for Patrick before Sunday's race got underway. Patrick already had to replace her engine ahead of Friday's practice and crashed into a wall due to a blown tire on the same day.
It was not a great day for the second-year driver, as she told Jeff Gluck of USA Today:
It has been a record horrible day, I'm pretty sure. So why not stack it on?
... I'd say if you're gonna have to start at the back of a track, the strategies are all over the place on road courses and it just might push us into something that works.
That strategy slightly worked as Patrick was able to nearly reach a top-20 finish. Unfortunately, that still leaves her well outside of the Chase Grid for a chance to make NASCAR's postseason.
Much like A.J. Allmendinger, who won the race at Watkins Glen, Patrick needs a victory to qualify for the Chase. With no room for error at Michigan, the SHR driver would need a perfect weekend rather than having difficult circumstances coming into the race.
Now heading to a track where she's experienced success, USA Today provided a breakdown of her last run at Michigan following the race:
The No. 10 Chevrolet went down a lap early in the race but Patrick remained one of the drivers in position to get back on the lead lap. That opportunity came when the caution flag flew on lap 147 and Patrick earned the "Lucky Dog," restarting 21st.
... Rebounded from going a lap-down early to finish 17th for her second top-20 finish at Michigan in three career Sprint Cup races.
While that doesn't sound extremely encouraging for Patrick, her string of luck at the track might lead to a huge turnaround. Before evaluating where she might finish at Michigan, here's a look at her results thus far, courtesy of DriverAverages.com.
|Danica Patrick Michigan Results|
|Date||Start||Finish||Laps Led||Driver Rating||Status|
|June 14, 2014||27||17||0||68.1||Running|
|Aug. 18, 2013||28||23||0||52.9||Running|
|June 16, 2013||37||13||0||69.2||Running|
What Patrick needs at this point is a win. While she has two top-10 finishes, inching her way up to the top five and leading laps will be a necessity for Patrick to gain any confidence moving forward.
Following the tough race at The Glen, Patrick made it clear what her intentions are heading into Michigan. According to the SHR website, Patrick plainly said, "We’ll come back at Michigan next week."
In order to live up to those words, she'll need to qualify much better than 27th—where she started the last Michigan race. If she can keep her car close to the front of the pack, Allmendinger might not be the only surprising driver in the Chase.
If she plans to make the Chase, a trip to Victory Lane would propel her into the postseason. But with a limited sample size and no victories during her career, it's still difficult to predict a win.
Predicted finish: 12th
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