Skip to content

Danica Patrick’s 2014 Speedweeks an exercise in frustration

Feb 25, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

Danica Patrick AP

When all was said and done, the 2014 edition of Daytona Speedweeks was nothing to write home about for Danica Patrick.

At what many acknowledge is one of her two strongest tracks – she has frequently run in the top-10 at both Daytona and Talladega since entering NASCAR full-time in 2012, and even in her part-time races before – Patrick was involved in two major wrecks during the week, neither of her own creation.

Patrick was still one of the biggest storylines of the month heading into the week-and-a-half period, thanks largely to the comments offered by Richard Petty. It triggered a measured response from Patrick, a mild backtrack from Petty, and then an impassioned defense from her boss Tony Stewart that led to the rather crazy idea Petty, 76, and Patrick could actually race head-to-head.

On-track, away from the headlines though, Patrick ran better than her results indicated.

Her Sprint Unlimited wreck only occurred after Patrick had actually done a rather stealthy job of weaving through spinning cars in the tri-oval. It was only when she spun on her own in avoidance that she was right in the path of, of all people, her boyfriend Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Then she and Stenhouse were among the top three in Sprint Cup practice on the Friday after the Budweiser Duel races.

Saturday in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race, Patrick had a good shot to win after starting third in the No. 30 Florida Lottery-sponsored Turner Scott Motorsports Chevrolet. But she didn’t lead and with passing a little harder to achieve, and single-file racing the norm for most of the day, she faded to 19th by the checkered flag.

The Daytona 500 was also a relatively nondescript day at the office. Patrick started from the rear of the field after her pre-qualifying engine change; she methodically moved up to the mid-20s, but never seriously looked like threatening the leaders.

She did lead two laps during a pit stop sequence, but that was thanks to varying in-and-out laps in the field.

Coincidentally, she was struck twice during the race by both of Petty’s Fords. In the opening pit stop sequence, before the six-hour delay, she got hit by Marcos Ambrose while entering her pit stall. It was minor contact but still an interesting nugget.

Of course the bigger incident of contact came when Aric Almirola’s other Richard Petty Motorsports Ford, the No. 43, ricocheted off the Turn 4 SAFER barrier back across the track and collected Patrick on Lap 145. It wasn’t a particularly heavy incident of contact, but the result afterwards was Patrick spinning into the unguarded wall on the outside of the track just before the tri-oval.

“I think more than anything I am just upset because the GoDaddy car felt really good and it was the best car that I had all Speedweeks,” Patrick said. “It seemed like we could catch whoever and it seemed like we could move around, make lanes and just move around and move forward at the end of the day. I felt like everything was going pretty well, so it’s just upsetting. It’s a bummer, but you know that is the excitement of speedway racing that anything can happen, and it was unfortunate that I was on the short end of the accident. But that is the kind of thing that happens, and I appreciate everyone sticking around and watching, and we will go get them at Phoenix.”

You forget how hard some impacts can be that aren’t into SAFER walls, and Patrick’s was one of two of them during the race. In the waning stages, 2011 Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne also hit a non-SAFER outside retaining wall on the backstraight.

Patrick’s day mirrored the frustration for the entire Stewart-Haas Racing quartet, who walked away from the Daytona 500 without a single top-10 between them and with several wrecked race cars.

Fuel cell issues hampered Stewart’s race, resigning him to a 35th-place result.

Meanwhile the two SHR new drivers, Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch, ended only 13th and 21st. Harvick was involved in the final lap crash off Turn 4; Busch faded back despite leading 15 laps in the early stages of the race.

And as for Stenhouse Jr.? He ended a solid seventh. Go figure.

Latest Posts
  1. Kentucky Speedway June Nationwide Series race to promote program encouraging use of designated drivers

    Apr 16, 2014, 2:42 PM EDT

    Bill and Muriel Elliott continue the memory of their son, Ensign John Elliott, who was killed by a drunk driver in 2000. Bill and Muriel Elliott continue the memory of their son, Ensign John Elliott, who was killed by a drunk driver in 2000.

    It’s rare that someone is happy to get or pay a traffic ticket from a state trooper. But thousands of NASCAR fans will gladly fork out their hard-earned money for a different kind of ticket, and one that carries the same kind of meaning as many of the tickets that police across the U.S. issue countless times each day.

  2. WATCH LIVE: NASCAR AMERICA at 5 p.m. ET — Rudd, Letarte, Hollywood Armstrong and why good restarts are key

    Apr 16, 2014, 2:08 PM EDT

    140416-NASCAR-AMERICA

    While much of NASCAR may be on its version of spring break, the NASCAR AMERICA team is hard at work to bring you some intriguing content. Rick Allen and Kyle Petty hold down the fort at the anchor desk on Wednesday’s show at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra for your online or mobile device.

  3. Going through NASCAR withdrawal already? Here’s some intriguing numbers to devour

    Apr 16, 2014, 1:46 PM EDT

    Kyle Busch is closing in on a significant milestone: he needs to lead just 30 laps at Richmond on April 26 to reach 10,000 laps led in his Sprint Cup career. Given that he doesn't turn 29 until early May, Busch conceivably could hit 25,000 or maybe even 30,000 laps led in his career if he continues at his current pace. Getty Images

    NASCAR may have the upcoming weekend off for the Easter holiday, but that doesn’t mean its crack team of statisticians is on vacation like most of the drivers and teams. Even without a race, they’re still pumping out numbers that fans love to devour. So for an appetizer prior to next week’s countdown to the April 26 race at Richmond International Raceway, here’s some food for thought and to munch on

  4. McLaren looks for recovery after double DNF in Bahrain

    Apr 16, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT

    Jenson Button AP

    After Bahrain frustration, McLaren looks for big points in China.

  5. Could F1 have its sixth different winner in China in last six years?

    Apr 16, 2014, 12:03 PM EDT

    Force India Getty Images

    After five winners in last five Chinese Grands Prix, is a sixth possible?

  6. Le Mans: Satoshi Motoyama completes Nissan ZEOD RC lineup (VIDEO)

    Apr 16, 2014, 8:48 AM EDT

    Photo: Nissan NISMO Photo: Nissan NISMO

    All-electric Garage 56 prototype features another familiar Nissan name in his Le Mans return.

  7. Cup drivers expecting speeds to go up at Kansas

    Apr 15, 2014, 8:33 PM EDT

    Hollywood Casino 400 Getty Images

    If Sprint Cup drivers’ comments during today’s Goodyear tire test at Kansas Speedway are an indication, we can expect to see track records fall next month on the 1.5-mile oval.

  8. NASCAR AMERICA: Tuesday Round-Up (VIDEO)

    Apr 15, 2014, 7:30 PM EDT

    nascar america

    Kyle Petty breaks down critical pit strategies in recent races, and Nate Ryan reports on today’s Goodyear tire test at Kansas.

  9. Austin Dillon doing what he has to do so far in rookie year

    Apr 15, 2014, 6:42 PM EDT

    Bojangles' Southern 500 Getty Images

    Rookie rival Kyle Larson has been more flashy, but Dillon’s consistency has paid off in the season’s first eight races.

  10. WATCH LIVE: NASCAR AMERICA at 6 p.m. ET

    Apr 15, 2014, 5:45 PM EDT

    nascar america

    On tap: The decision of four tires or two; Jeff Gordon’s crew chief, Alan Gustafson; today’s tire test at Kansas; and the Darlington edition of “Scan All 43.”

  11. Former FIA prez Max Mosley rubbishes F1′s ongoing noise saga

    Apr 15, 2014, 4:55 PM EDT

    Max Mosley And Representatives Of The NUJ Arrive To Give Evidence To A Select Committee On Regulation Of The Press Getty Images

    Mosley’s advice to current FIA president Jean Todt? “Take no notice.”

  12. World Challenge: Make-up race to be run at season-ending weekend in Utah

    Apr 15, 2014, 4:01 PM EDT

    WC

    The first race of last month’s season-opening weekend in St. Petersburg was rained out.

  13. Sergio Perez: Target is to “keep improving” after Bahrain podium

    Apr 15, 2014, 3:16 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain - Qualifying Getty Images

    The Force India driver will look to continue his momentum this weekend in China.

  14. 19 car/driver combos expected at IndyCar test in Texas

    Apr 15, 2014, 2:11 PM EDT

    Firestone 550 Getty Images

    The test will help determine the aerodynamic options available to teams for this June’s IndyCar event on the 1.5-mile oval in Fort Worth.

  15. F1 flashback: Ten years since first Chinese Grand Prix, too (VIDEO)

    Apr 15, 2014, 1:45 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of China - Race Getty Images

    Video highlights from the first Chinese Grand Prix, already 10 years ago.

  16. Jeff Gordon’s 6-year-old daughter takes to the track (PHOTOS)

    Apr 15, 2014, 1:01 PM EDT

    Federated Auto Parts 400 Getty Images

    Like father, like daughter? Ella Sofia Gordon got her first taste of a quarter-midget car earlier this week.

  17. IndyCar: Stats of note and points through two races

    Apr 15, 2014, 12:45 PM EDT

    Conway AP

    Some of IndyCar’s top performers, stats of notes and points after two races.

  18. Indy Lights: Lloyd Read is a seriously unlucky – or lucky – individual (VIDEO)

    Apr 15, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

    ReadGPSTP

    Indy Lights rookie Lloyd Read has either been really unlucky with circumstances or really lucky to avoid worse circumstances in the first two races, depending on your interpretation.

  19. NASCAR points observations through eight races

    Apr 15, 2014, 11:15 AM EDT

    Harvick Getty Images

    Where the NASCAR points standings sit after eight races, now post-Darlington.

  20. Ten with Townsend: Long Beach Debrief

    Apr 15, 2014, 10:30 AM EDT

    Hunter-Reay AP

    Expert insight from NBCSN’s IndyCar ace analyst Townsend Bell returns for a second season on MotorSportsTalk.

Today on NASCAR AMERICA

More from NASCAR America

Inside the Goodyear tire test at Kansas

Featured video

Recapping a race under Baharain lights
Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. J. McMurray (29760)
  2. K. Harvick (8006)
  3. M. McDowell (3910)
  4. C. Edwards (1868)
  5. T. Bayne (1446)
  1. T. Stewart (1357)
  2. J. Logano (1260)
  3. K. Larson (1259)
  4. K. Busch (1234)
  5. K. Kahne (1199)