The roller-coaster ride of a season for Danica Patrick continued on Sunday. Only this time, Patrick had to rally back from an accident she was deemed responsible for by a fellow driver.
Patrick was running well when she spun out and collected several cars in an early crash. With drivers such as Trevor Bayne, Matt Kenseth and Martin Truex Jr., the accident was a costly one for the notable names.
At the end of race, Patrick captured a top-20 finish and has three in her first four career races at Michigan. After qualifying 14th and going two laps down thanks to the accident, Patrick's record at the track remained consistent.
Just three races remain in the first 16-car Chase for the Sprint Cup, and Patrick is well outside of the window. Without a win before the 26th race, Patrick will likely be driving for pride and experience at the end of the year.
As the Sprint Cup circuit moves on to Bristol, here's a look at the latest news, ranking and results for Patrick ahead of the Irwin Tools Night Race.
|Danica Patrick 2014 Results|
|Pure Michigan 400||Michigan International Speedway||14||18|
|Cheez-It 355||Watkins Glen International||43||21|
|GoBowling.com 400||Pocono Raceway||10||30|
|Brickyard 400||Indianapolis Motor Speedway||14||42|
|Camping World RV Sales 301||New Hampshire Motor Speedway||29||22|
|Coke Zero 400||Daytona International Speedway||29||8|
|Quaker State 400||Kentucky Speedway||10||21|
|Toyota/Save Mart 350||Sonoma Raceway||11||18|
|Quicken Loans 400||Michigan International Speedway||27||17|
|Pocono 400||Pocono Raceway||16||37|
|FedEx 400||Dover International Speedway||28||23|
|Coca-Cola 600||Charlotte Motor Speedway||4||39|
|5-Hour Energy 400||Kansas Speedway||9||7|
|Aaron's 499||Talladega Superspeedway||7||22|
|Toyota Owners 400||Richmond International Raceway||35||34|
|Bojangles' Southern 500||Darlington Raceway||33||22|
|Duck Commander 500||Texas Motor Speedway||24||27|
|STP 500||Martinsville Speedway||10||32|
|Auto Club 400||Auto Club Speedway||27||14|
|Food City 500||Bristol Motor Speedway||36||18|
|Kobalt 400||Las Vegas Motor Speedway||22||21|
|The Profit on CNBC 500||Phoenix International Raceway||33||36|
|Daytona 500||Daytona International Speedway||27||40|
|2014 Sprint Cup Chase Grid|
|Pos.||Driver||Points||Wins||Top 5||Top 10|
|1||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||813||3||11||16|
Driving through adversity has been a theme for Patrick and the entire Stewart-Haas Racing team, but Sunday was a special exception.
Not only did Patrick get involved in a wreck, but she was called out by Jeff Burton, who was driving in place of teammate Tony Stewart. Burton's thoughts on the accident were shared by Bob Pockrass of Sporting News:
Patrick appeared to lose control of the vehicle but couldn't recover to avoid the melee on the track. Though she dropped two laps down, the 32-year-old did make some noise at Michigan.
After catching the "Lucky Dog" on Lap 179, the SHR driver made it count by coming in as the last remaining car on the lead lap. Patrick spoke about her eventful afternoon following the race, per SHR's official site:
“To come back from the accident and being two laps down to finishing 18th, I’ll take it,” Patrick said. “It was a good job by the GoDaddy crew to fix the damage, and we ran well to get back up to 18th. It was a tough day, but I’m happy with where we finished.”
The accident on Sunday was just the most recent issue in a long line for Patrick in the Sprint Cup. Brant James of ESPNW.com provides a breakdown of her last several races:
Patrick's four-race stretch since an eighth-place finish at Daytona International Speedway in early July has been testing. She finished 22nd at Loudon, New Hampshire, 42nd at Indianapolis Motor Speedway because of a gear problem and 30th at Pocono after qualifying 10th.
Then things got really interesting. During last Friday's first practice at Watkins Glen she missed a shift and broke the motor, then in the final session crashed into the tire barrier after a left front shock failure.
It was far from perfect, but Patrick still nailed down her seventh top 20 of the season. In order to make the Chase, she'll need perfection moving forward.
The SHR driver needs one thing to make NASCAR's postseason—a checkered flag. Though she clinched a career-best 18th-place finish at Bristol during the spring race, she has never had a top-10 result.
Here's a look at her career results from the short track, via DriverAverages.com:
|Danica Patrick Bristol Results|
|Date||Start||Finish||Laps Led||Driver Rating||Status|
|March 16, 2014||36||18||0||55.6||Running|
|Aug. 24, 2013||22||26||0||46.2||Running|
|March 17, 2013||41||28||0||41.4||Running|
|Aug. 25, 2012||43||29||0||46.3||Accident|
While her slow progression at the "World's Fastest Half Mile" is evident, she hasn't finished near the top of the pack. Rather than being a luxury for Patrick to win the race, it's a necessity to make the Chase.
Unfortunately, the likelihood of a victory over the next three races is minuscule. As the Chase fast approaches, Patrick's chances would continue fading away without a win at the Bullring.
Predicted finish: 22nd
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