GoDaddy driver finishes 39th after engine failure
Engine issues ended Danica Patrick’s solid weekend early in Sunday night’s Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway and relegated the driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) to a disappointing 39th-place finish.
“It's really unfortunate for the entire GoDaddy team,” Patrick said. “We started off great and started to get tighter and tighter. We had a plan to make a big adjustment (early) that I thought would really help under yellow. We dropped a cylinder or lost power and lost power, then got rear-ended. That was our day.
“We’ll just remember the good stuff that happened here at Charlotte (this weekend) and at Kansas last race (seventh-place finish) and build on that for Dover.”
After qualifying fourth on Thursday night to notch her best Sprint Cup qualifying effort at a non-restrictor-plate race and then practicing in the top-three on Saturday, Patrick and her GoDaddy crew had high hopes for the longest race of the season.
Early in the running of the Coca-Cola 600, Patrick looked poised for a promising night. She started fourth, and by lap four she had moved into the runner-up position. She was able maintain a top-10 spot for the first 70 laps, but a tight-handling condition began hampering her progress.
By lap 163, Patrick had been lapped by the leaders and had fallen to 23rd. Although Patrick believed her crew’s adjustments had improved the car’s handling and that they were getting closer to having the right setup for the later runs, she wouldn’t get a chance to show how good her No. 10 GoDaddy Chevy was.
Shortly after the halfway point, Patrick radioed that something had happened and she was down on power. When the crew brought her in at lap 223 under caution, they were able to confirm that she had gone down a cylinder.
Unfortunately, Patrick’s night got worse a few laps later when she was hit from behind as she was avoiding a spinning car in front of her. The accident caused heavy damage to the right rear fender of her No. 10 machine. After multiple pit stops to repair the damage, a dejected Patrick – now 28th and four laps down – apologized to her team, saying this wasn’t the night they had wanted. But crew chief Tony Gibson was quick to remind his driver that there would be difficult nights like these and that they would make the best of it.
Their night ended at lap 285 when Patrick’s engine expired after she had completed 281 laps.
“Unfortunately, we had a lot of bad luck,” Patrick said. “I think we still showed some good things this weekend. We’re not going to forget about where our GoDaddy team has been lately and running better. We’ll be back to get them at Dover.”
Patrick’s SHR teammate Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Budweiser Folds of Honor Chevrolet SS, led the four-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent Sunday night by finishing second.
Harvick started 11th and led five times for 100 laps en route to his fourth top-five in 27 career Sprint Cup starts at Charlotte. It was his fourth top-five this season and his 104th top-five in 478 career Sprint Cup starts.
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS for SHR, started 18th and finished 13th.
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation “America’s Machine Tool” Chevrolet SS for SHR, started 28th and finished 40th. He also experienced engine issues and completed only 271 laps.
Busch came to Charlotte by way of Indianapolis, where he became just the fourth driver to compete in the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 on the same day, joining Stewart, John Andretti and Robby Gordon. Busch finished sixth in the Indianapolis 500 and completed a total of 906.5 miles between the two races.
Jimmie Johnson won the Coca-Cola 600 to score his 67th career Sprint Cup victory, his first of the season and his series-leading seventh at Charlotte.
Harvick finished 1.272 seconds behind Johnson in the runner-up spot, while Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards and Jamie McMurray rounded out the top-five. Brian Vickers, Jeff Gordon, Paul Menard, Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were eight caution periods for 44 laps, with six drivers failing to finish the 400-lap race.
With round 12 of 36 complete, Harvick leads the SHR contingent in the championship point standings. He is 12th with 345 points, 87 behind series leader Gordon. Stewart is 22nd with 299 points, 133 out of first. Patrick is 27th with 218 points, 214 out of first. Busch is 28th with 215 points, 217 out of first.