Patrick Scores Top-20 Run at Phoenix
Danica Patrick and the No. 10 Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet SS team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) rallied from a 36th-place starting position to score a 19th-place finish in Sunday’s Good Sam 500k NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway.
After starting near the back of the field, Patrick was able to pick up 10 positions in the first 40 laps of the race. When the caution flag waved for the first time, she noted the car’s handling was a little tight but asked the team to not make any adjustments, and she was able to gain a few more spots on the following run.
As the race progressed, the tight-handling issue intensified, so crew chief Billy Scott called for air pressure and chassis adjustments to help improve the car’s handling for Patrick. She was able to crack the top-20 for the first time with just under 100 laps to go in the race. When the caution flag waved a few laps later, Scott once again called for chassis adjustments to the No. 10 Chevrolet.
The following run was the longest green-flag period of the race. Patrick reported the car felt like it was out of the track and really loose. With about 30 laps to go, Patrick was directed to start saving fuel in an effort to make it to the checkered flag in case the race ran green to the end. At lap 301, she went a lap down to the leader. A few laps later the caution flag waved once again.
Since the leader didn’t pit and the No. 10 Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet team wouldn’t be able to take the wave-around to get back on the lead lap, Scott called Patrick to pit road for tires, fuel and another chassis adjustment to help tighten up the car for the final laps.
As the race was extended for an overtime finish, Patrick restarted in the 20th position and was able to pick up one spot in the closing laps to score a 19th-place result.
“We didn’t start out as good as we needed to this weekend and that hurt us in qualifying on Friday, but my racecar was good today,” Patrick said. “The guys did a good job with the changes, but we went a bit too far on the second-to-last stop. That hurt us on the long green-flag run, and we ended up a lap down. I hate that we didn’t finish any better than we did today, but I’m glad we were able to come back and get a solid run after starting so far back.”
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