Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy/Get Found Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), earned a hard-fought 14th-place finish – her best finish of the season – in Sunday’s Auto Club 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.
Patrick overcame a flat left front tire late in the race and survived a treacherous green-white-checkered restart to score her first top-15 of the 2014 season.
“It seems like some of our most trying weekends end up with our better results, so we’ll take it and we’ll know that there is so much more potential for those weekends where we feel like we are running a lot better,” Patrick said. “It was a steady race. My hope was that our GoDaddy/Get Found Chevrolet was close on the first run, so I knew we could make it better. It is always so difficult when you start off in the beginning, and it really wasn’t too bad to start off with today. I think that’s usually the common denominator in us having a good race is just that first run – the car being there.
“It was, so we just made little adjustments here and there, and I don’t think we were extremely fast, but we were fast enough to pick them off and move up and have a steady day. That is what we did. It’s nice when you get fortunate and lucky and your best running position on track happens to be the last lap, so I will take it.”
Patrick, who started 27th, battled a tight-handling racecar early in the race, but by halfway she had settled into a spot in the top-20. However, trouble struck for Patrick at lap 139 when she was forced to pit for a flat left front tire, which she believes may have been caused when her car ran over debris.
The setback forced her to give up her spot in the top-20 and bring the No. 10 GoDaddy/Get Found Chevrolet to pit road for four fresh tires. The unscheduled stop put her one lap down to the leaders, but when the caution flag waved two laps later at lap 141, Patrick took the wave-around and got back on the lead lap in 32nd-place.
From there she and the GoDaddy/Get Found team began picking off cars, and she found herself back inside the top-20 when the final caution of the day came out on lap 198.
Crew chief Tony Gibson brought Patrick down pit road for four fresh tires and an air pressure adjustment on lap 199, and Patrick restarted 18th for the two-lap green-white-checkered finish. She got a solid jump on the restart and was able to pick up four more spots before the checkered flag waved to come home a respectable 14th.