Shuffled back in the draft from fourth spot.
Danica Patrick led laps 167-173 of Sunday’s Geico 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. But as is often the case at restrictor-plate tracks, she was shuffled back in the draft to 19th when the checkered flag flew.
Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Breast Cancer Awareness Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), pitted on lap 174 for her final stop of the day. Right after she pitted, rookie Kyle Larson spun to bring out a caution. She appeared to be in good shape, for when she restarted on lap 180 Patrick was in fourth position with less than 10 scheduled laps remaining.
One lap later, though, Patrick had fallen to 19th when she didn’t get in the line of cars charging to the front as is typical at restrictor-plate tracks like Talladega and Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. She fell to 25th but had rallied to 19th when the race concluded.
“That’s just restrictor-plate racing,” Patrick said. “Sometimes you get the draft, and sometimes you don’t. You have to have help to get to the front and to stay there. I always think of Jimmie Johnson telling me after the 2013 Daytona 500 that he won – he said he didn’t have a plan, he was in the right place at the right time. Tony Gibson (crew chief) gave me a good GoDaddy Breast Cancer Awareness car. We led laps, but we just missed the draft at the end and ended up 19th. It’s part of it. We dodged a few wrecks and brought it home in one piece, and we’re ready for Martinsville.”
It was Patrick’s seventh top-20 finish in her last 10 races, including a career-best sixth in August at Atlanta Motor Speedway. It was the third time she’s led laps in 2014, as she led two at the Daytona 500 and six at the spring Talladega race.