Danica Patrick and the No. 10 TaxAct Chevrolet SS team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) ran as high as seventh in Sunday’s Martinsville 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, but handling issues relegated them to a 16th-place result.
Patrick started the race 28th and quickly started moving forward. She cracked the top-20 at lap 58 and 25 laps later was inside the top-15. Patrick noted throughout the first half of the race that the car was “loose in, loose off and tight in the center (of the corner).” Crew chief Billy Scott called for air-pressure and wedge adjustments to help improve the car’s handling.
The No. 10 TaxAct Chevy remained inside the top-20, but Patrick went a lap down at lap 211. The caution flag waved 10 laps later and she was the recipient of the free pass, which put the No. 10 team back on the lead lap in 16th.
At lap 314, after Patrick reported she needed the car to turn the center of the corner better, Scott called her to pit road for tires, fuel and a spring rubber, as well as air-pressure and wedge adjustments. On the subsequent run, Patrick rallied from 16th to 11th. When the team visited pit road again at lap 385, the team made another wedge adjustment. Once the field took the green flag, Patrick raced her way up to seventh.
As the run continued, the handling faded on the No. 10 TaxAct Chevrolet and Patrick radioed to the team that the car was “loose and out of the track.” She fell back to 16th before the caution flag waved again at lap 447.
The team made additional adjustments on the final two trips to pit road, but Patrick wasn’t able to make up any ground in the closing stages of the race and finished 16th. The result marked her best finish thus far in 2016.
“I feel like it was one of those typical Martinsville’s where there is a lot of bodywork damage,” Patrick said. “I look at everyone else’s car and there is, too. I think our biggest problem today was just we generally had some inconsistency with runs. We would have a good one, then a bad one. Luckily, we started the race off with a good 90 laps where we were really making a lot of progress the last half of it. It wasn’t taking off as well, and then we made some changes later on that helped that.
“In general, I thought we had a pretty solid day. We had a lot of contact with a lot of cars, but I feel like that is also fun to watch. It’s fun to watch as a fan and it makes it fun inside the car. You take matters into your own hands pretty easily here at Martinsville. It was, all-in-all, a pretty decent day for the TaxAct team. I was really hoping when we got inside the top-10 we would hold there, but that run it just went loose and that set of tires was a little different. It is what it is.”