DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Danica Patrick looked to be a driver that could contend for the win as a dark horse in Sunday’s Daytona 500, but the first half of her career-ending ‘Danica Double’ ended in a heap after a hard mid-race crash.
Patrick was running 13th on lap 102 when ahead of her, second-running Chase Elliott was turned out of the pack after a bump from behind by Brad Keselowski, shooting back up the banking into turn three and right into the path of Patrick’s No. 7 GoDaddy Chevrolet Camaro ZL1.
With nowhere to go, the 35-year-old from Roscoe, Ill. slammed into Elliott’s car and sustained terminal front end damage to her car, knocking her out of the event and leaving her 35th in the final rundown.
However, despite that disappointment, Patrick was in good spirits after leaving the infield care center.
She held her head high and was pleased with the fact that her Premium Motorsports team thrashed in just a month’s time and gave her a car capable of being competitive in her seventh and final Daytona 500.
“The first half went pretty decent,” said Patrick. “The car was a lot better than it was in the Duel. It was a lot better than practice. (Crew chief) Tony Eury Jr. did an awesome job. The guys on the whole team did a really good job. I know we pulled this together not that long ago, and that’s a tall order to get a car ready for a superspeedway that is competitive … but it was.”
Patrick’s final Daytona 500 appeared much like her first did — with a No. 7 on the door and GoDaddy green adorning the car — creating an atmosphere that she felt was everything she could have asked for.
“I said earlier today that I feel like the whole thing was picture perfect with GoDaddy on the car, and it being that green again. It just wasn’t meant to be today,” she lamented. “I am proud that we raced the whole race … other than a little bit at the end of that first stage when it looked silly with all the cars with tires and no tires. Besides that, we raced it and the car was competitive.”
“That’s all you can do. That is the gamble at Daytona. It can go so well; and it can go so awful. Today just wasn’t it for us and I’m just sad that it ended the way it did.”
Patrick concludes her NASCAR career with the 2013 Daytona 500 pole and seven top-10 finishes to her credit in 191 starts, including a career-best finish of sixth at Atlanta Motor Speedway in September of 2014 and an eighth-place result in the 2013 Daytona 500.
She’ll officially close the book on her professional racing career in May when she drives an Ed Carpenter Racing Dallara-Chevrolet in the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500.
That’s a moment she’s greatly looking forward to, but she took one more moment to wave to the fans as she walked off from the NASCAR infield for the final time.
“I’m grateful for everything. Thank you to all the fans,” she said. “I still have one more (race). It’s not (in) a stock car, but I still have one more. I’m excited for that coming up.”
About the Writer
Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network.
Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.
The 24-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.
Email Jacob at: email@example.com
Email Race Chaser Online: firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow RCO on Twitter: @RaceChaserNews