Motorsport

Danica Patrick Finally Has Some NASCAR Fun

Finishing in her first top 10 of the season reduces the pressure off the Nationwide Series newcomer.

Former IndyCar star Danica Patrick has been finding it difficult to adjust to the Nationwide series and the stressful life at NASCAR with the hectic nature of its races. Every weekend she's got a job to do at the track with 33 Nationwide races in about 40 weeks plus a few Sprint Cup races. That is a heavy schedule to get used to. So no surprises that Patrick, despite pre-season upbeat mode, found it harder than expected to achieve the results she craved.

Last weekend, however, things began to turn around in her favor. For the first time this season she finished a race in the top ten and for the first time completed the same number of laps as the race winner. That happened at Texas Motor Speedway at a O'Reilly Auto Parts 300 race. Patrick started the race from 17th place on the grid and moved gradually forward. Patrick, on lap 195 of 200, was lagging in 13th place but after a red flag caused a delay, she went back into the race on new tires and gained five places in as many laps. "It's always quite chaotic when you have such great tires along with everyone around you," Patrick said to Nascar.com.

While Patrick qualified 17th she fell off the lead lap following a green flag pit stop with 50 laps remaining. Yet as the O'Reilly Auto Parts 300 became a race of attrition, the GoDaddy.com driver took advantage of things as the competition expired. But after an extended caution - compounded by a five minute and 27 second red-flag period after a breaker blew and shaded Turn 3 - Patrick became the beneficiary and restarted at 15th with 29 laps to go. Crew chief Tony Eury Jr., called his driver into the pits for fresh tires when Kurt Busch's engine blew on lap 187.

Patrick restarted 14th and carved through traffic over the final 16 laps to finish eighth. Her finish elevated the No. 7 driver six positions to the 11th in the point standings. "It's always quite chaotic when you have such great tires along with everyone around you. It's two wide - and you want to get by them. But all in all it's nice to have a good finish for the team, for GoDaddy, for everybody that works really hard. We've kind of had a tough going to the start of the year, so that was fun."

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