Danica Patrick’s Daytona 500 finish may be thrilling for NASCAR history, but eighth place isn’t enough for the former IndyCar driver.
Patrick’s place was the highest ever for a woman in NASCAR’s Spring Cup series. But she is still beating herself a bit for fading back in the final lap.
Patrick led for five laps in the race and ran in the top 10 for most of the day. She wasn’t too stressed through the race, making it easy for her to chat with her crew about their end-of-race strategy, reports My Fox Atlanta.
But her planning did not hold up as Dale Earnhardt Jr. led a drive on the inside lane, passing everyone but leader Jimmie Johnson. The drive caused Patrick to slip back to eighth. Johnson was able to hold off Jr.’s drive to win the Great American Race.
After the race, Danica Patrick stated:
“I would imagine pretty much anyone would be kicking themselves about what they coulda, shoulda have done to give themselves an opportunity to win. There was uncertainty on how to accomplish that.”
Sports Illustrated notes that Patrick recalled thinking in the middle of the race:
“How am I gonna do this? I didn’t know what to do exactly. Maybe that’s just my inexperience. Maybe it was not me thinking hard enough. I’m not sure. I was a little bit uncertain how to do that.”
Despite Patrick’s Daytona 500 finish bringing her down a bit, her placement topped Janet Guthrie, who finished 11th in 1980’s race. Her high placement also speaks volumes to how strong Danica will likely be this season. Since she is competing for Rookie of the Year honors, Patrick’s Daytona 500 finish at the first race of the season will certainly propel her to the front of the pack this year.