Danica Patrick was near the top-20 in the closing laps of the Party in the Poconos 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, but she was shuffled back during two late-race restarts and finished 29th.
Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), was running 21st in her first career start at Pocono when the green flag flew on lap 152 of 160. She fell to 23rd before the final caution of the day flew on lap 155 due to Dave Blaney’s accident in turn three. After two laps of caution, she entered the final restart in 23rd but unfortunately dropped six spots in the final four laps.
“The guys gave me a good GoDaddy Chevrolet,” Patrick said. “We just got shuffled back at the end on the restarts. It’s disappointing because we could have had a much better finish. It’s just part of the process, learning how to get better on restarts, especially at the end of races. That’s where you can really gain a lot of spots.”
The third member of SHR, Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Haas Automation Chevrolet for SHR, finished fifth after leading three times for 19 laps. It was his eighth top-five in 23 career Sprint Cup starts at Pocono and his second top-five of the season.
Jimmie Johnson won the Party in the Poconos 400 to score his 63rd career Sprint Cup victory, his third of the season and his third at Pocono.
Greg Biffle finished 1.208 seconds behind Johnson in the runner-up spot, while Dale Earnhardt Jr., Stewart and Newman rounded out the top-five. Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were six caution periods for 19 laps, with six drivers failing to finish the 160-lap race.
With round 14 of 36 complete, Stewart continues to lead the SHR contingent in the championship point standings. He moved up three spots to 13th and has 378 points, 143 back of series leader Johnson and 17 points behind 10th-place Biffle. Newman gained two spots to his 18th-place standing and has 363 points, 158 out of first and 32 behind Biffle. Patrick picked up one spot to her 28th-place standing and has 246 points, 275 behind Johnson and 149 away from Biffle.
Twelve races remain before the 12-driver, 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup begins Sept. 15 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. Only the top-10 in points are locked into the Chase. Positions 11 and 12 in the Chase are wild cards, awarded to the two drivers between 11th and 20th in points with the most wins. If multiple drivers have the same number of wins, a driver’s point standing serves as the tiebreaker. With his victory Sunday, June 2 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway, Stewart holds the first wild-card spot as he is the only driver between 11th and 20th in points with a victory.
Patrick, who is competing for Rookie of the Year honors against Ricky Stenhouse Jr., finished three spots behind Stenhouse, who placed 26th.