Danica Patrick finished 14th in Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway despite being caught up in a multi-car accident on the final lap of the 161-lap event, which ended under a green-white-checkered finish.
Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), was in the top-10 for much of the Coke Zero 400, including on the final restart on lap 159. She fell to 13th on lap 160 when the white flag flew for the final lap and, as the pack entered turn four for the last time, chaos ensued.
Patrick’s car came together with the car of David Gilliland, triggering a multi-car accident as the pack came to the start-finish line with nearly 10 cars being collected in total. Patrick was uninjured and able to drive her damaged GoDaddy Chevrolet back to the garage.
“Well, a green-white-checkered finish is always exciting,” Patrick said. “(Dale Earnhardt) Junior and I had a good run through the middle and then up high around (turn) four. And I just watched the replay. It felt like I ran just along the wall but it could have been me that came down in front of the No. 38 (Gilliland). It definitely wasn’t what I was trying to do at all. I was just following the No. 88 (Earnhardt Jr.). So, if that’s what happened, then I definitely apologize. I lost spots doing it.
“All in all, it was a solid day. I felt like we were a little slow to get going but I felt like we made the car better and I felt like I figured out some things in the car that helped. We got the GoDaddy car in a decent position. We ran strong and that’s what we want to do. I thought the Chevys looked really good in the race.”
Patrick’s teammate Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Ducks Unlimited Chevrolet SS, finished second to score his ninth top-five and 14th top-10 in 30 career point-paying Sprint Cup starts at the 2.5-mile oval. It was also his fourth top-five and sixth top-10 this season.
The third member of SHR, Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Outback Steakhouse Chevrolet for SHR, finished 10th. It was his sixth top-10 in 24 career point-paying Sprint Cup starts at Daytona and his eighth top-10 of the season.
Jimmie Johnson won the Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola to score his 64th career Sprint Cup victory, his fourth of the season and his third at Daytona. Johnson, who also won the season-opening Daytona 500, became the first driver since NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Allison in 1982 to sweep the Daytona 500 and the Coke Zero 400 in the same year.
Stewart finished .107 of a second behind Johnson in the runner-up spot, while Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer and Michael Waltrip rounded out the top-five. Kurt Busch, Jamie McMurray, Earnhardt, Casey Mears and Newman comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were six caution periods for 27 laps, with nine drivers failing to finish the 161-lap race.
With round 18 of 36 complete, Stewart continues to lead the SHR contingent in the championship point standings. He moved up six spots to 10th and has 499 points, 159 back of series leader Johnson and six points ahead of 11th-place Martin Truex Jr. Newman moved up two spots to 16th and has 482 points, 176 out of first and 17 behind 10th-place Stewart. Patrick picked up two spots to 25th and has 343 points, 315 behind Johnson and 156 away from Stewart.
Eight races remain before the 12-driver, 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup begins Sept. 15 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. Only the top-10 in points are locked into the Chase. Positions 11 and 12 in the Chase are wild cards, awarded to the two drivers between 11th and 20th in points with the most wins. In the event of multiple drivers having the same number of wins, a driver’s point standing serves as the tiebreaker.
Truex (11th) and Kasey Kahne (12th) are the only drivers between 11th and 20th in points with a victory, so they hold the first and second wild-card spots, respectively.
Patrick, who is competing for Rookie of the Year honors against Ricky Stenhouse Jr., finished three spots behind Stenhouse, who placed 11th.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Camping World RV Sales 301 on Sunday, July 14 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. The race starts at 1 p.m. EDT, with live coverage provided by TNT beginning with its pre-race show at noon.