GoDaddy driver leads twice for six laps in Aaron’s 499.
Danica Patrick led six laps early in the Aaron’s 499 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway before finishing 22nd in the second of four restrictor-plate races of the 2014 season.
Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), led laps 6-7 and laps 9-12 before overheating issues forced the second-year Sprint Cup driver to drop out of the lead draft.
“It was good out front,” said Patrick after only her third Sprint Cup start at Talladega. “I wish I could’ve stayed there. It was getting hot a lot. I think you saw that from a lot of cars. It was a hot day here in Talladega, and when you get back a little bit in the field it gets even worse.
“I was in the second lane, the second car back, real early on, and it just felt like that line kind of died a little bit. Then I started getting passed. So I dropped back to get some clean air. Got some track position a couple of times and got up there a little bit, but heating was definitely an issue. It really limited me to the bottom lane, because as soon as I jumped up, so did my water pressure. Our GoDaddy Chevy was good out front, and I felt good about that.
“It was good to lead some laps, because it had been awhile and we missed a lot of accidents. The good news is this car is going to Daytona. That’s a positive. The result was not necessarily too much of a positive, but it’s going to get rolled up on the truck, and that is more than a lot of people can say coming from a speedway like this.”
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, led the four-car SHR contingent in the Aaron’s 499 by finishing seventh. Harvick started eighth and led three times for 15 laps en route to his 11th top-10 in 27 career Sprint Cup starts at Talladega. It was his fourth top-10 this season and his 213th top-10 in 476 career Sprint Cup starts.
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for SHR, started ninth and finished 33rd after having his day cut short due to a late-race accident.
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet SS for SHR, started 12th and finished 43rd after getting caught up in an accident that unfolded after lap 136 and collected a total of 14 cars. His car was damaged beyond repair, forcing Stewart to retire from the race.
Denny Hamlin won the Aaron’s 499 to score his 24th career Sprint Cup victory in his milestone 300th start. It was his first win of the season and his first at Talladega.
Greg Biffle finished behind Hamlin in the runner-up spot, while Clint Bowyer, Brian Vickers and A.J. Allmendinger rounded out the top-five. Paul Menard, Harvick, Kasey Kahne, Kyle Larson and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were eight caution periods for 31 laps, with 12 drivers failing to finish the 188-lap race, which ended under caution.
With round 10 of 36 complete, Harvick leads the SHR contingent in the championship point standings. He is 19th with 258 points, 89 behind first-place Jeff Gordon. Stewart is 21st with 244 points, 103 out of first. Busch is 27th with 196 points, 151 out of first. Patrick is 29th with 176 points, 171 out of first.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the 5-hour Energy 400 on Saturday, May 10 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. The race starts at 7:30 p.m. EDT, with live coverage provided by FOX beginning with its prerace show at 7 p.m.