Too-tight car and bad luck make for a disappointing night
Danica Patrick started strong but faded to a disappointing 21st-place finish in Saturday night’s Kentucky 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta.
Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), started 10th and was in the top-15 for much of the first half of the race. Crew chief Tony Gibson made good adjustments on the car, and Patrick looked to be set up for a top-15 or even a top-10 finish.
Things began to go away on lap 182 following a caution, when Patrick restarted seventh after not pitting. She fell to 20th by lap 201, and things got worse when, as she pitted on lap 214, the caution came out. Patrick was the “Lucky Dog” and got her lap back, but she had to restart 24th when the race resumed.
From there, Patrick gained three spots to 21st, but her racecar was just too tight to make up more ground, and she had to settle for the disappointing finish.
“I’m disappointed,” Patrick said. “I know Gibson is too. I’m not sure why it didn’t handle well in the last run. It was just too tight. It was good in the first half, but in the second half it wasn’t really good. It’s disappointing to say the least, because I think we could have finished better. It’s too bad for the GoDaddy team.”
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, led the four-car SHR contingent by finishing seventh. He started fifth and scored his eighth top-10 this season and his second top-10 in four career Sprint Cup starts at Kentucky. It was also his 217th top-10 in 483 career Sprint Cup starts.
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Rush Truck Centers Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 13th but had to start at the back of the field after the team changed the transmission prior to the race, per the NASCAR rulebook. Stewart rallied to finish an impressive 11th.
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for SHR, started ninth and finished 12th.
Brad Keselowski won the Kentucky 400 to score his 12th career Sprint Cup victory, his second of the season and his second at Kentucky.
Kyle Busch finished 1.014 seconds behind Keselowski in the runner-up spot, while Ryan Newman, Matt Kenseth and Dale Earnhardt Jr. rounded out the top-five. Jeff Gordon, Harvick, Kasey Kahne, Joey Logano and Jimmie Johnson comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were six caution periods for 34 laps, with four drivers failing to finish the 267-lap race.
With round 17 of 36 complete, Harvick leads the SHR contingent in the championship point standings. He is ninth with 509 points, 109 behind series leader Gordon. Stewart is 16th with 460 points, 158 out of first. Busch is 26th with 379 points, 239 out of first. Patrick is 28th with 322 points, 296 out of first.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Coke Zero 400 on Saturday, July 5 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. The race starts at 7:30 p.m. EDT, with live coverage provided by TNT beginning with its prerace show at 6:30 p.m.