Danica Patrick finished a respectable 23rd in the Kentucky 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta.
Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), ran a smooth, clean race in weather that was quite different than teams expected.
The race was scheduled for Saturday night, but persistent rain forced NASCAR officials to postpone the race until Sunday at noon EDT. So instead of the race being conducted at night with cooler temperatures, drivers and teams raced with the sun shining on the track surface and air temperatures approaching 80 degrees.
With the hot conditions, Patrick fought a car that wasn’t quite to her liking throughout the day.
“We had a couple of runs where the GoDaddy car was pretty good,” Patrick said. “But every time we tried to make another adjustment and get the car better, it seemed to get worse. So we’d have to go back on the adjustment and try something new. We were really loose in turn three, and then at the end of the race we were just loose all over the place. The guys worked hard, and I hate that everyone had to stay an extra day.”
Patrick’s teammate Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Quicken Loans Chevrolet SS, finished 14th, while the third member of SHR, Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 20th.
Matt Kenseth won the Kentucky 400 to score his 28th career Sprint Cup victory, his fourth of the season and his first at Kentucky.
Jamie McMurray finished .699 of a second behind Kenseth in the runner-up spot, while Clint Bowyer, Joey Logano and Kyle Busch rounded out the top-five. Kurt Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were 10 caution periods for 42 laps, with 11 drivers failing to finish the 267-lap race.
With round 17 of 36 complete, Stewart continues to lead the SHR contingent in the championship point standings. He dropped one spot to 16th and has 457 points, 153 back of series leader Johnson and 22 points behind 10th-place Logano. Newman maintained his 18th-place standing and has 448 points, 162 out of first and 31 behind Logano. Patrick maintained her 27th-place standing and has 313 points, 297 behind Johnson and 166 away from 10th.
Nine 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.
Kasey Kahne and Stewart 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 six spots behind Stenhouse, who placed 17th.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Coke Zero 400 powered by Coca-Cola on Saturday, July 6 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. The race starts at 7:30 p.m. EDT, with live coverage provided by TNT beginning with its pre-race show at 6:30 p.m.