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NASCAR: Danica finishes eighth, and moves ahead of Stenhouse in points

Jul 7, 2014, 9:45 AM EDT

DanicaCoke400 Getty Images

Given some of the hype that’s surrounded her NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career to this point, an eighth-place finish for Danica Patrick would generally and widely be hailed as one of the biggest stories of the day.

Perhaps refreshingly, her run to eighth Sunday in the rain-delayed Coke Zero 400 at Daytona was a relative afterthought.

It also speaks to an increasing level of competitiveness that has seen Patrick rise from also-ran to genuine mid-level contender over the last several weeks, which is a positive step for her career development.

It was a race that featured a first-time winner in Aric Almirola, several rain delays, her own Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kurt Busch dominating but falling to the wrong place at the wrong time, and of course, two separate “big ones” (one, two).

Although her No. 10 Florida Lottery/GoDaddy Chevrolet sustained minor damage from slithering through the first “big one” on Lap 21, Patrick otherwise ran a clean, consistent race on what’s widely regarded as one of her best tracks, the 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway.

The top-10 result was her second eighth place at Daytona, after also ending eighth in 2013 in the race she scored the pole position. She posted her career-best seventh place finish at Kansas in May.

“It’s been a crazy day,” she said, via USA Today. “I can’t believe we finished eighth.”

As a result of her result, Patrick now ranks ahead of boyfriend Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in the Cup points standings. Patrick is 27th, Stenhouse 28th. Patrick also is only three positions behind Busch, the new fourth car at SHR.

Stenhouse’s day was a forgettable one after helping to trigger the first 16-car accident on Lap 21.

Patrick’s actually been on the best run of results thus far in her two-plus year career in Cup. Her last month has seen finishes of 17th (Michigan), 18th (Sonoma), 21st (Kentucky) and now eighth. Her qualifying has been much improved as well, with starts of 16th or better in six of the last nine races.

For reference, Patrick had only seven top-20 finishes the entire 2013 season. She has six already in 18 2014 races, so she’s moving in the right direction.

By contrast, Stenhouse appears to be regressing. Yes, he’s matched his 2013 totals of one top-five and three top-10 finishes and has done so in just 18 races. But since his runner-up finish at Bristol in March, Stenhouse has just three top-20 finishes, and has fallen from 10th to 28th in the points standings.

Yes, Daytona is always a crapshoot, but it was still important for Patrick to take advantage at a track she usually does well at. She did on this Sunday.

  1. goldensabre - Jul 7, 2014 at 5:57 PM

    Come on. Danica is still stuck in the 20s, and who cares if she’s ahead of her boyfriend?!

    Dillon and Larson — 2 bona fide rookies — are both well above her in standings and in contention for Top 10s every week, with a win this season a strong possibility.

    Dump the hype. Danica is a mid-pack journeyman stock car racer. And that’s it.

    • 48GOAT - Jul 9, 2014 at 8:21 PM

      What the thicker-headed people fail to realize is it does not matter where she finishes – SHE is a person of interest and people are reporting her progress through the year for the people who are interested.

      It’s really amusing that you’re saying she’s over-hyped, but your clan of haters contribute to the hype by trolling the articles, and adding hits to the counters on the pages about her, all but begging them to post MORE stuff about her.

      Are you too stupid to figure out why they keep feeding the trolls?

  2. onbucky96 - Jul 7, 2014 at 7:22 PM

    Wow, she’s driving like she belongs in the middle of the pack. Let’s celebrate…said no one.

  3. jam11163 - Jul 7, 2014 at 9:02 PM

    I guess she wares the pants

  4. techmeister1 - Jul 7, 2014 at 9:59 PM

    There are some real ass clowns here as usual. They just can’t deal with the reality that Patrick has been in CRASHCAR about three seasons and most other competitors have spent their entire driving careers in some form of CRASHCAR. She’s moving forward and that’s good to see. She’s achieved more than any other woman in a male dominated sport and that’s saying a lot when you consider the talent in CRASHCAR. I doubt the King would be as competitive in Indycar as Patrick has been in CRASHCAR.

    Montoya didn’t fair all that great in CRASHCAR so according to some he ain’t a real driver despite his prior success in Indycar and F1 and now again in Indycar last weekend. Maybe it ain’t the driver as much as it is the car and crew chief who are responsible for lost opportunities in CRASHCAR? The driver can’t get out and fix their car in a race. That’s what the crew chief is paid to do.

    It’s pretty obvious that some people are clueless and some are haters. It’s all a waste of time people as your ignorance and hate don’t change anything.

  5. worknman24hours - Jul 11, 2014 at 12:01 AM

    Has’nt been alot to be happy about for Danica so good for her.

    To her credit,she is not backing down from all the haters.

    Seems to just make her driver faster.

    You go Little Bits!

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