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Danica Patrick to start 10th at Martinsville, best Sprint Cup non-plate track qualifying effort

Mar 28, 2014, 6:52 PM EDT

NASCAR Sprint Cup Showdown - Qualifying Getty Images

There’s something about Martinsville Speedway that is definitely to Danica Patrick‘s liking.

Patrick recorded the best qualifying effort of her Sprint Cup career – on a non-restrictor plate track, that is – during Friday’s qualifying for Sunday’s STP 500 at Martinsville.

Patrick covered the .526-mile bullring, the shortest track on the Sprint Cup circuit, at a speed of 98.165 mph and an elapsed time of 19.290 seconds.

“This is definitely a step in the right direction,” Patrick said. “Qualifying is something I know I need to work on, it always has been. It is a weak area for me, and I know that.”

No matter what today, I felt like we kept our heads on straight. Everyone was calm and nobody got upset. We made the car better and better and better.

“And the most important times to make it better are for qualifying and the race. … We were able to get into the last group and get a top-10 out of it, so I’m very pleased with that.”

Patrick’s best overall Sprint Cup qualifying effort to date was earning the pole for the 2013 Daytona 500, where she also finished a career-best eighth (again, on a plate track).

But Martinsville definitely suits her style: she earned her best non-plate track finish in a Sprint Cup event at last spring’s race there, as well, finishing 12th. She came back to finish 17th in the fall Chase race there, as well.

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  1. mrsfoxxe - Mar 28, 2014 at 7:28 PM

    Stop the presses! She got 10th! Now if she remembers to turn left!!!!

  2. techmeister1 - Mar 28, 2014 at 9:01 PM

    That’s the trick – the crew chief needs to keep up with the changing track or a driver doesn’t have a chance of a good finish. When she drove around her boss Tony last year in the same equipment, it should have been obvious she can drive.

  3. chad4208 - Mar 28, 2014 at 9:53 PM

    She did well there last year so…. it’s obvious that she’s good at this track…. Yes, I like Danica, No, I’m not a mark for anyone but I still wish her to do well but even I found that strange but It’s still a fact.

  4. way2gosassy - Mar 28, 2014 at 10:05 PM

    Last year when asked what she thought the highlight of her year was she surprised everyone when she said Martinsville. She likes the track and I think the track likes her. Whatever you may think of her driving skills she did a bang up job out there today!

  5. dvdheg - Mar 28, 2014 at 10:33 PM

    all the haters don’t mention that she qualifies 25th or better and finishes 25 or better pretty consistently.that leaves 20 or so racers that are worse than her for them to say shouldn’t be racing sprint cup. GO DANICA!!!

    • fastwheelchair - Mar 29, 2014 at 1:36 PM

      If she were a man she would let go a long time ago

      • childofsea - May 25, 2014 at 10:15 PM

        Really?? There are several men who consistently wreck and never come close to winning — the first that comes to mind is David Gilliland, then we have Blaney , McDowell, Allmendingbat, Allgaier. What have they done? Funny you don’t have a problem with them, isn’t it? Just can’t stand to see a woman given a chance and actually improving, can you?

    • dfrank0908 - Mar 30, 2014 at 5:33 AM

      I’m no Danica fan. She should be like all the Rookies. They have blown her so out of proportion she doesn’t fit the qualification. I’m sure someday she’ll be able to race. She’s certainly been given enough chances. She struts out on the track like she’s a Richard Petty and when she crashes it’s everyone elses fault. Her boyfriend is even better than her and he’s be on the track for a shorter time. DVDHEG – wow those are some pretty impressive stats and that’s usually where she qualifies for the race. I don’t think she’s improved much.

  6. eugenesaxe1 - Mar 28, 2014 at 11:46 PM

    Anxiously looking forward to her post-race excuse.

    • fastwheelchair - Mar 29, 2014 at 1:37 PM

      I’m pretty so it doesn’t matter?

      • eugenesaxe1 - Mar 29, 2014 at 9:17 PM

        But from the neck down, she isn’t all that. Nice enough face, no body.

      • childofsea - May 25, 2014 at 10:18 PM

        I sure hope you’re pretty, fastwheelchair, because you sure are stupid!

  7. chad4208 - Mar 29, 2014 at 12:24 AM

    If she was a man would anyone care enough to bash? Hey, let’s pick on some unknown guy in the truck series that we don;t know his name because hes a guy but he’s in good enough equipment to win if Kyle busch got in it. Why dont we say he..whatever his name is…we don’t know because he doesn’t have tits…sucks? You suck Mr. I dont know your name because you didn’t pose in a sexy outfit.

    • pip3398 - Mar 29, 2014 at 4:28 AM

      She get bashed because she gets so much attention without accomplishment. She gets opportunity without having to earn it. I want her to drive and she is in the top series now so she should obviously stay here, but she got here without earning it on the track. Look at Travis P. He is accomplished in several other forms of racing and a standout in all the things he tried. He is probably a better stock car driver than Danica, but not good enough to have a ride. And obviously a marketable name. Danica has had a lot of extra opportunities because she is a good looking female. Ones that she never would have if she had been a guy. People just want to see her back up what Tony and others see in her. To show she deserves what she’s been given.

    • fastwheelchair - Mar 29, 2014 at 1:32 PM

      The reason she gets ragged on because despite the fact she’s a lousy driver she still gets more publicity than any of those “unknown” drivers you talk about and it’s simply because she’s the only woman in the sport.

      • chad4208 - Mar 29, 2014 at 3:12 PM

        shes not the only woman in the sport,,,

    • childofsea - May 25, 2014 at 10:22 PM

      Yes, Chad — why aren’t they complaining about Gilliland, Allmendingbat, McDowell, Blaney (who finally is not in every race), BLISS — one of my favorite losers! Because they secretly wish Danica could be theirs! They’re just like little third grade boys who pick on the girls they like! Small men, small minds!

  8. tyk55 - Mar 29, 2014 at 4:47 AM

    You go girl!! Old man Petty, eat your heart out.

    • hiconnie2014 - Mar 29, 2014 at 1:25 PM

      You are so sad tyk55. Danica owes her job to legends like Richard Petty who paved the history of this sport. Plus, please show a little respect for the man whose wife passed away a few days ago.

    • fave88 - Mar 29, 2014 at 2:00 PM

      Petty has agreed to race Danica. Petty is going to leave Danica in the dust!!!!

  9. theracefan - Mar 29, 2014 at 8:05 AM

    Was Tony secretly driving the cat?

  10. ssj455 - Mar 29, 2014 at 9:54 AM

    WOW!! 10th?!?!? That is so awesome!! They should broadcast it all over the world!!!! It is such an accomplishment!!! If she weren’t NASCAR’s b(I)mbo no one would know what place she started. I’m taking bets that she won’t finish and that it won’t be her fault.

  11. bell1571 - Mar 29, 2014 at 12:59 PM

    We all know that the Danica haters will voice their most hateful opinions, that’s a given. The new qualifying format is a bit misleading when it comes to speed in the latter rounds due to being on old tires. Under the new format, she qualified 10th in the second round, she had been 8th in round one. Pretty impressive, don’t you think? Not bad considering she is qualifying against the top 43 racecar drivers in the nation. Should she stay out of trouble, the ‘experts’ are predicting a top ten finish for her on Sunday. Last week, I told you this was coming. When SHR performs well, Danica is in the mix. Can’t wait to see the hater comments on Monday, they are certainly entertaining.

  12. hiconnie2014 - Mar 29, 2014 at 1:34 PM

    In other equally newsworthy headlines, the sun rose on the east side of the track at Martinsville this morning. It was believed to be the fastest elapsed sunrise reported since yesterday.

  13. fastwheelchair - Mar 29, 2014 at 1:43 PM

    She might start out 10th but she’ll either (And usually she’ll take some other poor sap out with her.)she’ll blow a tire or an engine her biggest accomplishment so far is that she hasn’t hurt or killed anybody…YET!

  14. chad4208 - Mar 29, 2014 at 3:16 PM

    Shes still good at Martinsville. Thats a start. And I agree with given opportunities because of her sex and looks.

  15. worknman24hours - Mar 29, 2014 at 8:30 PM

    Good luck, little bits.

  16. creteman52 - Apr 2, 2014 at 1:24 PM

    I just don’t see why she deserves all the press. She is a cry baby and nothing is ever her fault. I believe she does not have the know how to tell the crew chief how the car is handling . Sad that just because she is a she all the press comes to here. She did the SAM in open wheel always someone else’s fault. Also I think she gets the attention cause the writers are talentless and fish for a story.

    • childofsea - May 25, 2014 at 10:30 PM

      She did the SAM? What does that mean? And c’mon, hate her if you want, but at least be truthful and criticize others who whine also — like Carl Edwards (when he wrecks someone it’s just racing, but when he gets wrecked, he’s a crybaby! They all complain right after a wreck. They are upset and angry. You would be too! (Like anyone would ever let you drive a race car. You’d probably wet your pants if you went 180 mph behind the wheel of a car!).

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