Patrick posts her career-best finish on a short track.
MARTINSVILLE, Va. –Why worry about being lucky or good when you can be both?
Certainly, that was the case for Danica Patrick who fought to a seventh-place finish at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday.
Patrick, who turned 33 on Wednesday, started 16th but patiently worked her way through the field – and avoided the wrecks over 16 caution periods – for her best finish on a short track and second-highest finish to date.
“It was an up-and-down day – I should say it was a down and then up day is really what it was – it was a rough start,” Patrick said. We had that long run where we stayed out and the car just wasn’t right to make that kind of gamble and we paid the price. But it also taught us a lesson to not do that if the car isn’t right.”
Denny Hamlin won his fifth victory on the half-mile track. Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Matt Kenseth and David Ragan rounded out the top five.
By the fifth caution on Lap 78, Patrick had dropped to 27th. But by halfway in the STP 500, Patrick was able to battle through traffic and regain her 16th-place starting spot. Over the remaining 250 laps, crew chief Daniel Knost improved the handling on the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevy so Patrick could run with the leaders and race to her fifth top 10 finish.
So we had a little luck on our side – it always takes that at Martinsville – but it’s so much nicer to look out the windshield than the rearview mirror and you’re going to do one or the other at Martinsville.
“Daniel made some good changes in the middle of the race and I said, ‘man, if you can do that just one more time we’ll be fine and he did. We dialed ourselves in all day and I’m proud of him for that. In past races we kind of gone backwards and then back to where we started.
“I’m really happy that we usually start the races off really well but I would take starting off and finishing seventh than starting really good and going backwards and losing all your track position and having a really average finish. So we had a little luck on our side – it always takes that at Martinsville – but it’s so much nicer to look out the windshield than the rearview mirror and you’re going to do one or the other at Martinsville.”
Patrick’s result was the best for the Hendrick-powered Chevys and ties Janet Guthrie for most top 10 finishes for a female. Patrick also moved from 23rd to 16th in the Sprint Cup point standings.