Danica Patrick Ends Up 21st at Talladega

Danica Patrick and the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) overcame an early race accident and a broken shifter linkage to earn a 21st-place finish in Sunday’s Geico 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.

Patrick started the race from the 25th position and was running 23rd when she was collected as collateral damage in a lap-48 accident. As Patrick slowed on the backstretch when the caution flag was displayed, contact from the No. 43 car sent her spinning toward the inside retaining wall. Patrick was able to save it and slowly brought the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS to pit road so the team could change tires and assess the damage. NASCAR officials displayed the red flag, so Patrick pulled back out onto the track and rejoined the field. The team made one additional pit stop to repair the damage once the caution flag was displayed again, and Patrick restarted in the 16th position when the field took the green flag at lap 51.

Despite sustaining damage in the wreck, Patrick was still able to race her way through the draft and contend. She worked her way up to 10th and was scored in the 15th position when the caution flag waved at lap 116 for debris in turn three. As Patrick slowed under caution, she radioed to the team that the car was stuck in fourth gear. The team analyzed potential ways to address the issue but ultimately decided they wouldn’t be able to fix it without losing multiple laps.

Patrick restarted in the 24th position and dropped to 28th after the field took the green flag. Once the GoDaddy Chevrolet SS got up to full song, she was able to race her way up to the sixth position with 50 laps to go. When the caution flag waved for the final time at lap 159, crew chief Daniel Knost called Patrick to pit road for the team’s final stop of the race. The team changed four tires, added fuel, removed debris from the grille and helped push the GoDaddy Chevrolet SS out of their pit stall since the car was still stuck in fourth gear.

She restarted 27th at lap 162 and fell to 32nd before working her way back into the top-20 at lap 170. Patrick attempted to make a run on the bottom line with several laps to go, but without any drafting help, she drifted back to 28th. On the closing lap Patrick was able to miss a number of cars as they wrecked ahead of her, and she scored a 21st-place finish.

Upon postrace inspection, the team determined that Patrick had been stuck in fourth gear for the last third of the race because the shifter linkage was broken.

“Well, we survived today despite all the issues we faced, and sometimes that’s all you can ask for,” Patrick said. “The GoDaddy team did a great job getting the car fixed after the wreck, and the car ran really well. I was really worried we were going to have to make a green-flag stop at the end after we had shifter issues, but thankfully the cautions worked out and we didn’t. We had really hoped to come out of Talladega with a better finish, but at least we didn’t end up 40th.”

Speedway Digest Staff

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