Skip to content

Instead of significant improvement, 2014 starting off the way 2013 ended for Danica Patrick

Mar 2, 2014, 7:26 PM EST

Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images Getty Images

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

Latest Posts
  1. After thrilling title finale, NASCAR withdrawal now setting in

    Nov 23, 2014, 2:30 PM EST

    Ford EcoBoost 400 Getty Images

    This weekend is the first without a NASCAR race since mid-July.

  2. Abu Dhabi GP Paddock Notebook – Sunday

    Nov 23, 2014, 2:00 PM EST

    Lewis Hamilton AP

    For the last time in 2014, we round up all of the action in the paddock as Lewis Hamilton became Formula 1 world champion for the second time.

  3. Force India rallies to double points score in Abu Dhabi

    Nov 23, 2014, 1:30 PM EST

    F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi - Qualifying Getty Images

    It’s not enough to beat McLaren in the constructors’, but a great result nevertheless for Hulkenberg and Perez in Abu Dhabi.

  4. Lotus’ Twitter hilarity powers through a challenging Renault sendoff

    Nov 23, 2014, 1:15 PM EST

    MaldonadoAD Getty Images

    Lotus laughs rather than cries after a fitting end to its challenging 2014 season.

  5. Button top-five caps off end of what could be several eras at McLaren

    Nov 23, 2014, 1:00 PM EST

    ButtonSignoff Getty Images

    We know McLaren and Mercedes are done. But what of Jenson Button and/or Kevin Magnussen?

  6. Ricciardo stars once more, from pit lane to fourth in Abu Dhabi

    Nov 23, 2014, 12:45 PM EST

    RicciardoAD Getty Images

    Quite a drive from Daniel Ricciardo, primarily aided by start on primes.

  7. Vettel thanks Red Bull for “incredible journey”

    Nov 23, 2014, 12:15 PM EST

    F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi Getty Images

    After winning four world titles with Red Bull, Vettel is bound for Ferrari in 2015.

  8. Prince Harry and David Cameron congratulate Hamilton on F1 title

    Nov 23, 2014, 11:45 AM EST

    Mideast Emirates F1 GP Auto Racing AP

    On a great day for British motorsport, Prince Harry and British Prime Minister David Cameron send their congratulations to Hamilton.

  9. Alonso rates time with Ferrari as 9/10, finishes P9 in final race for the Scuderia

    Nov 23, 2014, 11:30 AM EST

    Mideast Emirates F1 GP Auto Racing AP

    Alonso is set to join McLaren in 2015 after five years with Ferrari.

  10. Rosberg gracious in title defeat, says Hamilton deserved championship

    Nov 23, 2014, 11:15 AM EST

    Mideast Emirates F1 GP Auto Racing AP

    An engine failure cost Rosberg the chance to emulate his father and become F1 world champion.

  11. Williams double podium caps phenomenal comeback season

    Nov 23, 2014, 10:56 AM EST

    ADpodium Getty Images

    Second and third for Massa and Bottas caps an incredible 2014 season for Williams.

  12. Hamilton calls second title victory “the greatest day of my life”

    Nov 23, 2014, 10:13 AM EST

    AUTO-PRIX-F1-ABU-DHABI-PODIUM Getty Images

    British driver wins his second F1 championship in Abu Dhabi as title rival Nico Rosberg fails to finish in the points.

  13. Hamilton clinches second F1 world title by winning Abu Dhabi GP

    Nov 23, 2014, 9:45 AM EST

    F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi Getty Images

    An engine failure for Nico Rosberg leaves Hamilton free to win the race under the lights in Abu Dhabi and clinch his second world title.

  14. GP2: Coletti wins final race of the season in Abu Dhabi

    Nov 23, 2014, 8:30 AM EST

    © GP2 Media Service © GP2 Media Service

    F1′s feeder series comes to a close in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

  15. GP3: Stoneman and Niederhauser close out season with wins

    Nov 23, 2014, 7:45 AM EST

    © GP3 Media © GP3 Media

    The third tier single seater series comes to a close in Abu Dhabi, with Alex Lynn winning the championship.

  16. Starting grid for the 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

    Nov 23, 2014, 7:15 AM EST

    F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi Getty Images

    Nico Rosberg will lead the grid away for the 11th and final time in 2014 later today.

  17. WATCH LIVE: Abu Dhabi GP Race Day live on NBCSN from 7a ET

    Nov 23, 2014, 6:45 AM EST

    Nico Rosberg AP

    Nico Rosberg and Lewi Hamilton’s date with destiny awaits in Abu Dhabi today.

  18. Alonso hits back at questions about his motivation

    Nov 23, 2014, 6:30 AM EST

    F1 Grand Prix of Japan - Practice Getty Images

    Spaniard responds to comments made by Ferrari team principal Marco Mattiacci earlier this week.

  19. The Final Showdown: Hamilton and Rosberg prepare for one final battle in Abu Dhabi

    Nov 23, 2014, 6:00 AM EST

    Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton AP

    The 2014 Formula 1 season has been a sensational one, but the championship will finally be decided today in Abu Dhabi. Will it be Lewis or Nico?

  20. Vettel and Ricciardo to start Abu Dhabi GP from pit lane

    Nov 23, 2014, 5:48 AM EST

    Mideast Emirates F1 GP Auto Racing AP

    Changes made to the cars overnight warrant another penalty for Red Bull.

Video from NASCAR America

Most unexpected event of 2014?
Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. J. Gordon (1879)
  2. J. Johnson (1806)
  3. D. Hamlin (1682)
  4. J. Logano (1676)
  5. T. Stewart (1626)
  1. K. Kahne (1508)
  2. J. McMurray (1456)
  3. R. Newman (1428)
  4. K. Harvick (1382)
  5. K. Larson (1184)