Patrick adds more history to her Daytona resume
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Danica Patrick stood on Daytona International Speedway
pit road early Sunday afternoon smiling after a fourth-place finish in
the NASCAR season-opening, 75-lap Advance Auto Parts Clash exhibition
Even she was quick to remind the gathered press this wasn't a points event.
But, she conceded it was a nice way to competitively start a season and that can't be a bad thing.
Her fourth-place showing didn't earn her any points, but it did mark the highest finish for a woman in a NASCAR-sanctioned race at Daytona. And she was the top performer Sunday on the Stewart-Haas Racing team -- something her team owner Tony Stewart recognized following the race, stopping by for a congratulatory pat on the back and some words of encouragement.
As she walked into the garage to prepare for Daytona 500 qualifying a couple hours later, there were loud and rousing cheers from fans acknowledging her work.
"If you're gonna have one track where I've had good races, you kind of hope Daytona is one of them or maybe the one," Patrick said. "It would be great to get a 500 win, but it's great to run up front."
In fact, Patrick's work in six years of NASCAR starts on the Daytona high banks has been both historic and praiseworthy.
She sat on the pole for the 2013 Daytona 500 and has two top-10 finishes in nine starts here -- including an eighth-place in the 2013 Daytona 500.
"We definitely had some luck on our side today with a couple cars spinning down below (on the last lap)," Patrick said. "It felt like a 'Days of Thunder' moment where you see the smoke but hold it wide open and hopefully come out the other side. But that's the name of the game.
"There were certain times I felt like we were competitive and running up there and certain times I felt like I got pushed out. That's the nature of this racing. As there were less cars out there, it got harder and harder to recover from those moments where someone hung you out.
But we had a good result and that's what we show up for."