Danica Patrick had a strong start to the beginning of the NASCAR Nationwide Series season, taking the green flag from the third position after an impressive 1-2-3 qualifying effort by Turner Scott Motorsports at Daytona International Speedway. However, a loss of track position and difficulty to make passes under green kept the No. 30 Florida Lottery Chevrolet outside the top 10 for a majority of the day, ultimately resulting in a 19th-place finish in the Drive4COPD 300.
Turner Scott Motorsports kicked off the 2014 season in an exceptional manner, laying down the first, second and third-fastest lap times in NASCAR's new qualifying format. Setting the third-quickest time with a 46.867-second lap, Patrick and the No. 30 team were poised for a strong day in the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway. After the wave of the green flag, Patrick's line quickly lost momentum, and by the time the first caution flag of the day waved on lap nine, Patrick was mired back in the 19th position. Patrick reported to crew chief Mike Greci that everything about her Chevrolet Camaro's balance felt fine, but that it was difficult to make passes running in two side-by-side lines and that track position really depended on being in the right place at the right time. Greci called his driver into the pits for fuel and a chassis adjustment, sending her back out onto the track in the 16th spot.
A long green-flag run ensued after the lap-15 restart, forcing the field to begin green-flag pit stops on lap 50. Bringing her Florida Lottery machine to the attention of her crew on lap 52, Patrick, who was scored 21st, received two right-side tires and fuel before returning to the track in the 15th position. Greci reported to Patrick, who had commented before the stop that her Camaro was beginning to get a little bit tight, that her right-rear tire was going flat, and was likely the cause of her tight condition.
The 57-lap green-flag run came to an end on lap 72 for a debris caution, and Patrick was scored 14th now that pit stops had cycled completely through. Patrick commented that she was having a very difficult time getting by anyone with the two-lane racing and inability to push other cars, but remarked that she believed that the inside line was the best way to go. Patrick was once again called to pit road for two right-side tires and fuel, and she returned to the track in 13th, with several competitors opting to go with fuel-only stops.
With 45 laps remaining, the action on the racetrack grew dicier, with more competitors risking going three-wide in order to gain track position. Patrick remained in the 13th position when the yellow flag waved on lap 94, and she was summoned to pit road for a quick splash of fuel to ensure that she could make it to the end in the event of a green/white/checkered finish. The strategy came in handy when the final caution flag of the day waved on lap 117 with Patrick scored in 17th, setting the field up for the first attempt at a green/white/checkered finish. With the field once again running side-by-side lines, Patrick was unable to make a move to fight her way to the front, ultimately crossing the finish line in 19th and narrowly avoiding a melee after the wave of the checkered flag.
"This really wasn't quite as much fun as I'd hoped it would be," said Patrick after the race. "It was great to be able to bring my Florida Lottery Chevrolet home in one piece at a superspeedway race, but I felt a little helpless out there without being able to draft the way we're all used to. It was really tough to make any moves or gain positions, and everything really depended on what line you wound up in. I really have to thank Turner Scott Motorsports for building me such a fast car and Florida Lottery for the chance to run this race; I always enjoy competing in the Nationwide Series. I think I definitely learned a lot about this new style of superspeedway racing, which I think will help me out a lot in the future."