Danica Patrick and the No. 10 Aspen Dental Chevrolet SS team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) finished 23rd in Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn.
“We were hoping to have a little different outcome today, but it was extremely difficult to gain positions with the long, green runs,” Patrick said. “I have to thank (crew chief) Billy (Scott) and the guys for their hard work today. It sounds like everyone was having similar issues, and they kept telling me to remain consistent and make the moves for position when I could. I felt like I was racing the same guys all day for the same spots. I might have had a better car timewise, but it was just really difficult to get past some of those guys. We’ll keep working at it and see if we can improve next weekend in Darlington.”
Patrick started the 200-mile race in 23rd and bounced between 22nd and 23rd during the opening 10 laps. She was running 23rd on lap 22 when the competition yellow slowed the race for the first time. Scott called for four tires and a full load of fuel and took left-rear wedge out of the No. 10 Aspen Dental Chevrolet SS. Patrick resumed her battle with Trevor Bayne and Regan Smith during the long caution-free run battling for position before ultimately making a green-flag pit stop on lap 64. Scott called for four tires and fuel only during the stop, trying to keep the car from getting tighter on exit. After another long run, Patrick reported that the car was getting looser the longer the run went. When the race reached the halfway mark, she was running 25th.
With the race staying under green for more than 80 consecutive laps, Patrick clicked off consistent laps but was two laps down to the leaders. On lap 108, Scott again called for tires and fuel only when Patrick returned to pit road for another green-flag stop. Ten laps later, the third caution of the race slowed the action and Patrick regained one lap on the leaders.
When the race reached lap 160, Patrick was up to 21st but reported the car was again tight coming off the corners. During a pit stop on lap 168, Scott added a half-round of wedge in the left rear hoping to help the car exit better during the final 30 laps of the race. A late yellow on lap 187 gave the team one final chance to make adjustments, and Scott took a half-round out of left rear, knowing he needed to free up the car with the sticker tires. Patrick had a good final restart and made five consistent laps to finish 23rd.
Patrick’s teammate Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, finished fifth to lead the four-car SHR contingent Sunday. It was Harvick’s 11th top-five this season and his 10th top-five in 32 career Sprint Cup starts at Michigan.