Danica Patrick: What Her Dover Performance Means for the Rest of the Year

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Danica Patrick: What Her Dover Performance Means for the Rest of the Year
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
Danica Patrick talks to reporters following the Nationwide series event at Dover.

Danica Patrick finally had things going her way this season.

Last week, Danica recorded her second top five finish of the season in the IZOD Indy Car Series at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan, and followed that up with her first official top 10 in a NASCAR race, finishing sixth in the K&N Pro series event at Dover on Friday.

The wave of momentum Danica Patrick was riding came to a crushing end, with a hard trip into the turn four wall.

The GoDaddy.com Chevrolet was running two laps down to race leader Kyle Busch on lap 71, when the right front tire let go, slamming her into the wall.

Her performance until that point was on par with the previous five Nationwide series events she has run this season. With the 35th-place finish at Dover, her average finish this season is a discouraging 33rd.

While her run at Dover was disappointing, the fact that the crew got the car back on track and Danica got more seat time is a major positive.

Dover is by far the most difficult track she has raced on since making her debut at Daytona. The more laps she was able to get under her belt, the better.

Running the full IZOD series along with the partial Nationwide schedule has hurt her effort more than anything. She has the talent and the equipment to contend for wins; unfortunately, having two weeks between races has been a hindrance.

It almost seem like she has to learn how to drive stock cars all over again every time she gets to the track. With only one event left on the Indy Car Series calendar, look for Danica’s performance to increase over the last few races.

Next on the schedule for Danica is California’s Auto Club Speedway on Oct. 9.

Looks like another long day, based on the poor performance the GoDaddy.com team had a Michigan and earlier this season at ACS.

One difference is that they will not be using the new car that was used at Michigan.

While running the new car would help the team prepare for the 2011 season, running the car the team is more familiar with will help the confidence level, and Danica going back to a track she has raced on should be a big help.

On Oct. 15, Danica will make her debut at the Mecca of motorsports in Charlotte, N.C., followed by Gateway, Texas, Phoenix and the season finale at Homestead.

While it is not likely that she will break through and score a win, or even a top 15 finish, I really do think she will improve.

The team needs to use these last six races as test sessions. Don’t worry too much about the finishes.

While this may not hold well with the ultra-competitive driver, the most important thing is just to log laps and get a feel for the car.

The best case scenario for this team would be to use the rest of 2010 to work on communication and gain experience and use 2011 to get some confidence built up.

2012 could be a magical season, that is, if she chooses to turn her full attention to NASCAR.

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