Danica Patrick and the No. 10 Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet SS team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) scored a 19th-place finish in Sunday’s Save Mart 350k NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway after cautions hindered the team’s pit strategy.
Patrick started the race from the 11th spot and dropped to 13th before the caution flag waved for the first time at lap six. Patrick noted she needed help in the braking zones and that the No. 10 Nature’s Bakery Chevy was a little “snug,” but the racecar remained on track until crew chief Billy Scott called her to pit road for a green-flag stop at lap 30 for wedge and air pressure adjustments, tires and fuel. After pitting later than most of the field, Patrick was advancing through the pack when the caution flag waved again at lap 45, thwarting the team’s strategy.
Scott called Patrick to pit road under caution at lap 47 for more wedge and air pressure adjustments to improve the loose-handling condition she experienced on the exit of the high-speed right-handers. Patrick also got tires and fuel and restarted the race from the 23rd position at lap 49 after the top-five cars elected not to pit.
The team planned to stop just once more during the final half of the race. As the field cycled through green-flag pit stops, Patrick led three laps before Scott called her to pit road again at lap 77. Less than 10 laps later the caution flag waved again once again, foiling the team’s pit strategy. The team pitted for tires and fuel and Patrick restarted in the 20th position when the field went back to green-flag racing at lap 90.
In the closing laps Patrick moved up to the 19th position before taking the checkered flag.
“The cautions just didn’t play into our favor today,” Patrick said. “We got stuck with bad track position and weren’t able to get back into the top-15. The No. 10 Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet was great all weekend, and it’s just disappointing we weren’t able to get a better finish.”