Top five finish in final practice: Check. Top fifteen starting position: Check.
Green flag, Boys and Girl...
With a career-best running position of 10th already documented during the race, Danica Patrick not only gained even more seat-time, but more and more exposure to drivers who rarely ever finish out of the top positions. Danica fans were on the edge of their seats, knowing it may be the first time she makes her goal of a top fifteen starting and finishing position, inching closer and closer to even a top ten finish.
But did it happen?
Top fifteen finish: __
It was evident that a smile had been under Danica's helmet while driving the No. 7 Tissot car all afternoon in the Camping World 300 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Though, it was eventually shot away by the prowling hood of James Buescher's BigSpot.Com Toyota, as it barreled into the side and rear of her car, sending her airborne and down the track, tangling a wreck between she, Ricky Carmichael, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
After finally learning what she was doing in the car, realizing exactly what was going on, and fighting for positions against every car out on the track, her day was over, and left only in the tire marks on the track, as she pulled her car down pit road, and back into the garage.
"It was a pretty big hit. I drifted up and kind of got up into him the lap before. That was my fault," Patrick said. "Then, looking on the replay on the next lap, it just looked like he turned me."
And its clear as day, though Buescher denies the intentional hit, and blames it on the "funnel effect" and lack of room.
"It was definitely not intentional. You're not just going to lift because somebody's going toward the wall when they're inside of you." Buescher said after the checkered flag flew and his car was parked in one piece, after the race was over.
Intentional or not, her day went from a top fifteen finish to a 30th place, while he goes home finishing 17th.
Being told time after time, "Go get 'em" by her crew chief, Tony Eury Jr, the end to the day was a heartbreak to not only her, but the rest of the crew. But, after the anger had toned down and the forward minds had moved on to next weekend's race, he added, "Just like I told her, you just have to chalk it up and one day he'll have a good day."
Will Danica bring revenge? Most likely, no. She's new to the sport and with a crew backing her like she has now, the most she can do is kill the rest of the drivers with kindness, growing stronger and stronger every race. Its apparent the learning curve is being met, and improvement is happening, so with a couple more races like this and a bit of luck to help her cross the finish line, don't be surprised if you see Danica Patrick closing a race in the top ten by the end of the season.