Monday, February 25, 2013

Patrick stayed with the leaders at Daytona 500

Danica Patrick was third with a lap to go, but was passed by more experienced drivers.


Auto Racing stories

Sprint Cup

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Danica Patrick, the first woman to start from the pole in a Sprint Cup race, came close to becoming the first female to win a Cup race as well on Sunday.

Patrick was running third with a lap to go in the Daytona 500, but she fell to eighth and had to be content with being the first woman to lead laps at the Daytona 500, and post the best finish by a woman in The Great American Race.

"Anyone would kick themselves and say, what [I] coulda, shoulda have done to give myself that opportunity to win," said Patrick, a rookie making her 11th career Sprint Cup start in the No. 10 Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing.

"That's what I was feeling. an uncertainty how I was going to accomplish that. ... I didn't know what to do exactly, so I feel like maybe that's my inexperience, maybe that's me not thinking hard enough or getting creative enough, I definitely was a bit uncertain. That's what I felt all day long, what it would take to win?"

Though she started on the pole, Patrick conceded the first laps to Jeff Gordon, and spent most of the day in the top 10 before grabbing the lead twice for five laps.

In a week of busting gender barriers, Patrick was proudest of becoming the 13th driver to have led laps at both Daytona and the Indianapolis 500, where she was the first female to lead the Indy 500 in 2005 when she finished fourth.

"I'm honored, but these are things that happen along the way," she said. "The pole was wonderful, but being up front and getting to the lead at one point, and running in the top 10, for me, that was more of an accomplishment."

Her fellow competitors were impressed with how Patrick handled the race.

"It's going to be a lot of fun to watch her progress," said Dale Earnhardt Jr., who was Patrick's car owner in the Nationwide Series in 2010-11. "She's done her best work in the Cup car. For whatever reason, she seems to get a lot more out of that car."

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