Patrick’s Strong Pocono Run Foiled by Accident

Danica Patrick had a strong racecar and appeared to be in contention for a solid top-20 finish in the 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway.

But Patrick’s efforts were foiled just 50 laps shy of the race’s completion when she was caught in a wreck at lap 110 in the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR).

Patrick was 18th and moving forward when she was involved in the multi-car accident. Travis Kvapil was on the outside of Patrick as they drove into Pocono’s turn two. While the two cars didn’t touch, it appeared the close racing between the two cars resulted in the air being taken off of the No. 10 Chevy, causing it to spin up the racetrack before being hit by two other racecars.

Patrick’s GoDaddy Chevy sustained heavy front-end damage. She was able to drive her No. 10 Chevy to the garage but was unable to continue in the race due to the damage.

“There was a car outside of me, and when there is a car outside of you going through fast corners, it takes the side force off of it, and the car gets looser when someone is there,” Patrick said. “It hadn’t been a problem all day. I didn’t do anything different that time. I even kind of told myself going into the corner, ‘It’s fine, just run through the corner.’ I don’t know if he was closer than other cars had been to my outside or not.

“We had freed the GoDaddy car up just a little bit, but not drastically, just a little bit because we were tight. I don’t know if that was enough to just tip it over the edge from where it was. It’s never as much rear grip when someone is outside of you. I feel bad for the team because we were having a good day, and I know it’s nice to finish those days off and it would have been nice to finish in the top 20. That is just my goal.

“It’s simple, it’s nothing crazy, but it’s been a challenge this year. It would have been nice to do that, and we were just having a steady race and a good race, and it’s over. We were way better than we were last time. We were competitive, and we were making good calls in the pits. Everything was going; it just happens.”

Patrick’s SHR teammate, Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, finished fourth to score his fourth top-five of the season and his ninth top-five in 24 career Sprint Cup starts at the 2.5-mile triangle.

Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished ninth. It was his 22nd top-10 in 30 career Sprint Cup starts at Pocono and his eighth top-10 of the season.

Kasey Kahne won the 400 to score his 16th career Sprint Cup victory, his second of the season and his second at Pocono.

Jeff Gordon finished 1.392 seconds behind Kahne in the runner-up spot, while Kurt Busch, Newman and Dale Earnhardt Jr. rounded out the top-five. Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, Stewart and Greg Biffle comprised the remainder of the top-10.

There were nine caution periods for 35 laps, with 10 drivers failing to finish the 160-lap race.

With round 21 of 36 complete, Stewart continues to lead the SHR contingent in the championship point standings. He remained 11th and has 594 points, 178 back of series leader Johnson and five points behind 10th-place Biffle. Newman gained one spot to his 15th-place standing and has 575 points, 197 out of first and 24 behind Biffle. Patrick lost one spot and is 27th in the standings with 373 points, 399 behind Johnson and 226 away from Biffle.

Five 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. If multiple drivers have the same number of wins, a driver’s point standing serves as the tiebreaker.

Stewart, Martin Truex Jr. and Newman are the only drivers between 11th and 20th in points with a victory. Since Stewart and Truex sit 11th and 12th, respectively, in the standings, they hold the first and second wild-card spots.

Patrick, who is competing for Rookie of the Year honors against Ricky Stenhouse Jr., finished one spot behind Stenhouse, who placed 34th.

The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the 355k at The Glen Sunday, Aug. 11 at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International. The race starts at 1 p.m. EDT, with live coverage provided by ESPN beginning with its pre-race show at noon.