Patrick Rallies For Career-Best Finish
By: Dustin Long - @dustinlong on September 1, 2014 | 2:05 A.M. EST
Danica Patrick came back from being a lap down twice to score a career-best sixth-place finish Sunday at Atlanta. (Photo: Getty Images)
HAMPTON, Ga. - Danica Patrick twice came back from being a lap down to score a career-high sixth-place finish Sunday night at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
She nearly scored the best finish by a female driver in a NASCAR Sprint Cup race. Sara Christian holds the record with a fifth-place finish Oct. 2, 1949 at Heidelberg (Pa.) Raceway. Patrick’s run Sunday matched Janet Guthrie’s best finish in a Cup race, achieved at Bristol on Aug. 28, 1977. Patrick’s previous career best finish was seventh in May at Kansas Speedway.
“I was hoping for a top-five but sixth place is definitely something to be happy about,’’ Patrick said.
She was just as pleased not to have her race derailed as has happened this season.
“Since that solid run like this at Kansas, honestly we’ve been so much faster and qualified much better, it’s just where something fails or I make a mistake or there’s an accident,’’ Patrick said. “There were so many things that kept putting us out of contention and wrecking our weekends. This weekend, we din’t have that. We fought hard at the beginning.
It didn’t look as if she would achieve a top-10 finish early in the race. She fell a lap down twice in the first 118 laps with teammate Kevin Harvick setting a blistering pace.
“It’s very hard to start 27th and not be perfect - the car was definitely too tight in the beginning - and not have Kevin Harvick catch you,’’ Patrick said. “He’s just so fast around here.’’
But Patrick came back and once she got her lap back a second time, she stayed on the lead lap the rest of the night and progressed through the field.
“I had one run where I felt like I was playing a video game out there,’’ Patrick said. “I was just driving around the top side of everybody. It was a little more human-like after that. The guys had a really awesome stop that last time so I could restart seventh and get out of all that mess on the frontstraight.’’
The finish gives Patrick hope she can carry that momentum into this weekend’s race at Richmond International Raceway.
“I have sucked at Richmond every time so I sure hope I can run well at Richmond now,’’ she said.