|SOURCE: Rubbin's Racin' Forums|
Now in her fourth season in NASCAR’s top division - and her last with longtime sponsor GoDaddy - Patrick is still looking to find consistency. During her first full seasons in 2013 and 2014, she’d finished just 27th and 28th in points, earning four top-ten finishes and a pole in the 2013 Daytona 500. Last fall at Talladega, she led 7 laps and was out front with 15 circuits remaining before a late caution shuffled her back to 19th. This year, after 11 events, she sits 17th in points with two more Top Tens - a season-best 7th at Martinsville and a 9th at Bristol. In 93 career Cup starts, she has now earned more top-ten finishes than any other female driver in NASCAR history.
On Friday, Patrick came to Charlotte as one of the 29 entrants in the Sprint Showdown as well as one of the top vote-getters in the Sprint Fan Vote. She ran 5th-fastest in the event’s lone practice session and timed in 8th at an average speed of 187.996 mph. In the race itself, she came home 10th in the first segment and 9th in the second, but as the cars rolled onto pit road, it was announced she had won the fan vote and would transfer into Saturday’s main event with segment winners Greg Biffle and Clint Bowyer. Unfortunately, Patrick’s engine soured after the Showdown, and she would have to fall to the rear for Saturday’s race.
On Saturday, Patrick qualified 6th without incurring any penalties, turning in a time of 112.893 seconds - just over a second and a half behind polesitter Denny Hamlin’s 111.227. When the race began, Patrick fell to the rear, joining Kevin Harvick, who’d suffered a 5-second penalty for a pit road violation. While Harvick climbed through the field quickly, Patrick advanced much slower, though by Lap 3, both had shuffled Patrick’s owner Tony Stewart and his #14 Bass Pro Shops / Arctic Cat Chevrolet to the 20th and final spot in the field.
Stewart held the last spot until the end of the 25-lap Segment 1, when Greg Biffle needed repairs to the rear of his #16 Ortho Ford following two early hits to the outside wall. Biffle, who started outside-pole, held the spot all the way until Patrick took it midway through Segment 3. On the 9th of the segment’s 25 laps, Patrick was running 16th when her Chevrolet trailed smoke entering the third corner, forcing a quick dive to pit road. Though originally appearing to be another lost engine, it was found to be a busted left-front hub. Patrick returned to the track 32 laps down on Lap 90 - 15 laps into Segment 4 - and finished the race under power.
The rest of the field finished the race under power and on the lead lap with Stewart finishing next-to-last, 13.4 seconds behind race winner Denny Hamlin at the finish. Rounding out the Bottom Five were Ryan Newman in the #31 CAT / Quicken Loans Chevrolet, Carl Edwards in the #19 ARRIS Toyota, and defending All-Star Jamie McMurray in the #1 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet.
*This is the fourth time the car #10 has finished last in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race. The other drivers were Greg Sacks in 1986 (#10 DiGard Chevrolet), Ricky Rudd in 1999 (#10 Tide Ford), and Johnny Benson, Jr. in 2003 (#10 Valvoline Pontiac). Patrick is also the first driver since Sacks to finish last in the All-Star Race while still under power.
*This is the first time Chevrolet has finished last in the All-Star Race since 2005, when Martin Truex, Jr.’s #1 Bass Pro Shops / Tracker Boats Chevrolet was involved in a multi-car crash after 35 laps. Truex was also that year's fan vote winner.
*Patrick is the first female driver to finish last in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race.
THE BOTTOM FIVE
20) #10-Danica Patrick / 78 laps / running
19) #14-Tony Stewart / 110 laps / running
18) #31-Ryan Newman / 110 laps / running
17) #19-Carl Edwards / 110 laps / running
16) #1-Jamie McMurray / 110 laps / running