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Danica Patrick finishes 7th for new career-best Sprint Cup result

May 11, 2014, 12:03 AM EDT

5-Hour Energy 400 - Practice Getty Images

After making the final round of qualifying for tonight’s 5-Hour Energy 400 at Kansas Speedway, it was clear that Danica Patrick had a fast car.

The question was whether or not she could keep it toward the lead pack.

But Patrick was able to turn in a strong performance, rising as high as third during the middle stages of the race before coming home seventh for her new career-best result in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

The all-time best Sprint Cup result for a female driver still belongs to Sara Christian, who finished fifth in a 1949 race at Heidelberg Raceway in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

But Patrick was able to better her own previous best finish of eighth in the 2013 Daytona 500.

“It was really just staying up in that lead group,” Patrick said of her strategy for tonight’s race. “You’re gonna move up, you’re gonna move down but generally [I had to] average out to where I was starting, and I feel like we did all of that.

“What can I say? I’m really proud of the team for building cars like these. This was a new car and it was so good. I think it shows when the runs were long and I would keep coming, that just shows this was a good car.”

Patrick has had a relatively rough transition to the top tier of stock car racing, and up to now, she has only really been considered as a legitimate threat on restrictor-plate circuits.

But pulling off a Top-10 on an intermediate track will surely be a major boost in confidence for the former IndyCar star.

“I know that we haven’t had the best of times, but it’s days like today that we work hard for…When we do this enough, this is the kind of stuff that materializes into wins,” she said. “We just gotta keep hanging around and doing what we’re doing.”

Also playing a role in her solid outing was Kevin Harvick, one of her three veteran teammates at SHR, who told her to just not worry about the car turning bad on her.

“As she went through the weekend, she kept her track position on the restarts, which was probably the biggest thing,” Harvick said afterwards. “But I guess the one thing I did tell was to just quit thinking about it and smash the gas.

“Your car’s never gonna be perfect and you just have to take what it will give you. Expect that when you pit, every time it’s going to be better and if it’s not, you adjust and move on.”

Considering her outing this evening, it appears that Patrick took Harvick’s advice to heart.

  1. gbart22 - May 11, 2014 at 12:51 AM

    What’s nice about it is she raced hard and on the top ten almost all night it wasn’t a fluke fuel mileage run or a super speedway pack race. Good for her and I’ve been her biggest detractor so it’s nice to see her do well. Hopefully she can do it again On a relatively consistent basis

    • lakirk - May 11, 2014 at 10:02 AM

      And good for you, too. I was curious and eager to see what all the “haters” would have to say this morning. Many are apparently just as bitter and mean-spirited as ever, so it’s nice to see a former detractor be so gracious!

    • llphoto3023 - May 12, 2014 at 10:12 AM

      If you throw enough bait in the water, eventually you’re gonna catch something! Seriously, it’s about time she lived up to the hype. She’s driving for one of the better teams, using good equipment and a great support staff, she should be in the top ten all the time.Good for her but let’s see how the rest of the year pans out. Meanwhile if you want to see some successful female racers, check out NHRA.

      • lakirk - May 12, 2014 at 10:43 AM

        Patience, patience…. It just isn’t realistic to expect her, at this point in her Sprint Cup career, to be running consistently in the top 10 with the likes of Junior, Gordon, Harvick, Johnson, and the like. Hype or no hype, remember that she spent most of her life in open-wheel racing and is still a relative newcomer to NASCAR. She’s also had more than her share of bad luck, especially with respect to getting caught up in wrecks not of her doing. I think a much more reasonable expectation for the remainder of this season would be regular top-20 finishes, with the occasional top-10 mixed in. I hope and expect that one day she’ll start winning races, and finishing top-10 more often than not, but it just isn’t fair to expect too much too fast.

      • llphoto3023 - May 12, 2014 at 7:46 PM

        So we need patience when it comes to Ms Patrick. How about Kyle Larson. Or how about James Hinchcliffe who took over for Patrick’s Go Daddy team indy car.Last year he had 3 victories, 6 top 5 finishes and 11 top ten finishes. There shouldn’t be a gender gap in auto racing. If you are out on the track driving good equipment then you should be competitive. It’s not like she is out there pushing the car around the track.Patrick has been a pro for 10 years.1 career victory in 2 series. The only positive thing she brings to stock car racing is the fact that she has opened the door for other females to compete. Other than that, she is what her record says she is.

  2. eugenesaxe1 - May 11, 2014 at 3:05 AM

    Do you write articles for every first-time 7th-place finisher, or just the over-blown, over-rated ones with built-in airbags?

  3. teamlango - May 11, 2014 at 7:09 AM

    Did her car pass post race inspection? Or do they only do that for the top 3? Would Love to know if they let her have a couple of hundred pounds tonight….

    • convincedofthehex - May 11, 2014 at 10:58 AM

      I see the mysoginistic keyboard cowboys are back

  4. racefanbill - May 11, 2014 at 10:03 AM

    Congratulations Danica on a very good finish.

  5. techmeister1 - May 12, 2014 at 8:37 PM

    Despite the clueless haters Danica is a good driver. When they give her a decent car and keep up with the track she does well. Even Stewart can’t drive a POS to the front and he has the same equipment. She has minimal CRASHCAR experience compared to most other competitors who have 10+ years in CRASHCAR type racing so hating on her because you’re a baffoon doesn’t make you right, it just shows your ignorance.

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