Mar 2, 2014, 7:26 PM EDT
Danica Patrick was supposed to have a much better season in 2014, her sophomore campaign on the Sprint Cup circuit.
But after the first two races, 2014 is starting to look a lot like 2013 for Patrick, unfortunately.
Patrick struggled to a 36th-place finish in Sunday’s The Profit on CNBC 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.
While it was a slight improvement from her 40th-place showing (after being involved in a multi-car wreck) in the season-opening Daytona 500 last Sunday, it’s obviously not the kind of start Patrick, crew chief Tony Gibson and Stewart Haas Racing were likely hoping for.
Patrick, who finished 27th in the 2013 final season standings, is now 39th in the Sprint Cup rankings after the first two races, already 77 points behind points leader Dale Earnhardt Jr.
“It’s tough,” Patrick said. “That’s two weeks in a row we’ve had good cars and nothing to show for it. The car was good all day, we just needed track position. I’m starting to think if we didn’t have bad luck, we’d have no luck at all. The GoDaddy guys built me a great car for the second week in a row. I hate it for them, and I hate it for GoDaddy. This is obviously an important race for them (GoDaddy is headquartered in Phoenix). Hopefully, things turn around in Las Vegas.”
Even though Patrick has lived in suburban Phoenix for the last few years, PIR has not been very welcoming to her.
Patrick now has four Sprint Cup starts at the flat one-mile track under her belt, the last three being finishes of 30th or worse.
She finished 17th in her first Cup race there in fall 2012, followed by 39th in spring 2013 (due to a crash), 33rd last fall 2013 (10 laps behind race winner Kevin Harvick) and now 36th (six laps behind the winning Harvick).
She was on pace for a possible top-10 showing in the fall 2012 race, but slammed into the wall on the final lap after being hit from behind by Jeff Burton.
And then as Patrick limped her damaged car down the frontstretch, she was hit from behind by Paul Menard after a big wreck as the checkered flag fell.
On a restart on Lap 171 in Sunday’s race, Patrick was headed into Turn 1 when she tangled with Justin Allgaier, causing her car to spin around against the outside retaining wall.
Both drivers were able to continue after quick damage repairs on pit road, but as she pulled away from her pit stall Patrick told Gibson over the team radio that she smelled smoke inside the car.
About a dozen laps later, Patrick went for a single-car spin and flat-spotted her left rear tire, requiring another visit to pit road.
Granted, we’re only two races into the 36-race Sprint Cup schedule, but Patrick isn’t the only driver having early season struggles. Kurt Busch left Phoenix 30th in the Sprint Cup standings, while Martin Truex Jr. (who started the Daytona 500 on the outside pole) left in 35th place.
Maybe the third race of the season in Las Vegas next Sunday will be the charm for Patrick.
Follow me @JerryBonkowski
May 30, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT
We caught up with a few of the GRC Lites drivers before their season kicks off.
May 30, 2015, 9:30 AM EDT
Force India team owner claims F1 has become too democratic in letting some of the teams have a say.
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Frenchman hopes to bounce back in Canada next weekend after finishing outside of the points in Monaco.
May 29, 2015, 4:52 PM EDT
Will Power and Helio Castroneves complete the front row for first of two IndyCar races in Detroit.
May 29, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT
Sainz went on to finish the race in tenth place, but it all very nearly ended far earlier in Monaco last Sunday.
May 29, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT
GT racer returns after making his Formula E debut in Uruguay at the end of 2014.
May 29, 2015, 1:51 PM EDT
Brembo busy with IndyCar, TUDOR and World Challenge this weekend.
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Kanaan leads the way in the T-Swift mobile.
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Fernando Alonso’s manager confident the Spaniard was right to leave Ferrari and join McLaren for 2015.
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Ecclestone has given the race promoters two months to make a decision on whether to revive the Indian Grand Prix or not.
May 29, 2015, 10:15 AM EDT
What’s next for Joni Wiman, the defending Red Bull Global Rallycross champion?
May 29, 2015, 9:30 AM EDT
Ricciardo announced himself on F1’s big stage in Canada last year with the first of three victories in 2014.
May 29, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT
Here’s how field did in last year’s doubleheaders.
May 29, 2015, 7:45 AM EDT
Who will emerge on top after a crucial weekend in Detroit?
May 29, 2015, 12:35 AM EDT
Larry Dixon is making up for lost time – in VERY fast way, that is – as in the neighborhood of 320-plus mph and less than four seconds.
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Sarah Cornett-Ching is opening a lot of eyes in the ARCA Series this season.
May 28, 2015, 8:59 PM EDT
Here’s the field for this year’s Red Bull GRC season opener in Ft. Lauderdale.
May 28, 2015, 8:31 PM EDT
Taylor Swift on an IndyCar? Believe it.
May 28, 2015, 6:49 PM EDT
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- Preview: Detroit’s doubleheader a crucial weekend for IndyCar championship 0
- ARCA: From welder to race car driver, Sarah Cornett-Ching continues her building prowess 2
- Taylor Swift to be featured on Tony Kanaan’s IndyCar in Detroit; will she make it to track? 7
- Surprises, struggles: NHRA at one-third mark of ’15 season 5
- FIA seeking new teams for Formula 1 in 2016 and 2017 8
- Gossage to Walker: “We need a more competitive race this year than last year” 2