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After Top-10 start, Danica doomed by handling woes at Martinsville

Mar 31, 2014, 6:30 PM EDT

STP 500 Getty Images

Two Top-20 finishes at Bristol and Fontana, and then a Top-10 start at Martinsville, had to make Danica Patrick confident of her chances Sunday at NASCAR’s oldest track in the STP 500.

But by the time it was over, Patrick’s momentum had been thoroughly zapped.

After her No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevy was plagued by handling issues initially, she was unable to rally back and finished 32nd, six laps off the pace.

Martinsville had emerged as one of Patrick’s more competitive tracks last year after she logged finishes of 12th and 17th there in her rookie Sprint Cup season.

But with her car tight in the corners and loose off yesterday, Patrick plummeted from the lead pack in the early stages.

“It was a disappointing day,” Patrick said. “We ran so well at Martinsville last year, but we struggled all race long today. It’s disappointing for everyone on the GoDaddy team. We had high hopes coming into this race based off what we accomplished last year, but we missed the setup.

“[Crew chief] Tony [Gibson] made changes every time we came to pit road and really hit on something around halfway. But by that point, we were already a couple of laps down.”

In a bid to get back on the lead lap, Patrick stayed out on track during cautions at both Lap 341 and Lap 412. But the gambles did not work out and she was forced to pit under green, losing more laps to the leaders.

“We tried staying out on a couple of the cautions to take the wave-around and get a couple of laps back,” she added. “It wound up biting us toward the end when we had to make a green-flag pit stop because the tires were killed. Needless to say, it wasn’t the finish we were looking for today.”

Before Martinsville, Patrick had improved her finishing position each week after starting the year with a 40th-place result in the Daytona 500. She’ll look to get back on track this weekend at Texas, where she finished 28th and 25th last year.

  1. eugenesaxe1 - Mar 31, 2014 at 8:20 PM

    Maybe they should spot her 20 laps. Or let her race by herself-nah, she’d end up losing anyway.

    • ditto65 - Mar 31, 2014 at 8:58 PM

      She should ask the King for tips – he has 15 wins there.

      • eugenesaxe1 - Mar 31, 2014 at 9:38 PM

        She’d get into a 1-car pile-up driving to his house.

  2. worknman24hours - Apr 1, 2014 at 12:23 AM

    I’ve said it before and I will say it again.

    Until Danica drives the car like she wants to blow it up on every lap and stay at the front the entire race, she won’t get anywhere near winning a NASCAR race.

    She will have to fight harder then any other driver to win her first race.

    that’s just what it will take.

  3. jal337 - Apr 1, 2014 at 10:49 AM

    Get back on track? When was she ever on track? All she does is bring in publicity.. She’s horrible at driving a race car. It’s a disgrace to the sport even having her out there driving..

  4. intomidator - Apr 1, 2014 at 12:00 PM

    “Martinsville had emerged as one of Patrick’s more competitive tracks last year after she logged finishes of 12th and 17th there in her rookie Sprint Cup season.”

    sometimes folks confuse “competitive” with “finishing position”…

    t…

  5. jerze2387 - Apr 2, 2014 at 4:52 PM

    “Handling woes”: Danica Patrick cant handle a race car, period. thats the only kind of “handling woes” that exist.

  6. scott386 - Apr 2, 2014 at 4:54 PM

    It was a typical day for her….This was her chance to show us what she can do….And she did.

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