If you think Danica Patrick or her No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing team was satisfied with a top-10 finish in Sunday's Daytona 500, think again...
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — If you think Danica Patrick or her No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing team was satisfied with a top-10 finish in Sunday’s Daytona 500, think again.
“We were going for the win,” said Patrick’s crew chief, Tony Gibson, after her eighth-place finish — the highest for a woman in “the Great American Race.”
“I told her after we survived that last practice on Friday that Sunday’s was hers, and she should treat it as a video game — go run as hard as you can. Make something happen.”
Patrick certainly did.
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And she started last weekend, when she became the first woman to win a pole in the Sprint Cup Series, claiming the top starting spot in the 500.
Early in Sunday’s race, she accomplished another milestone becoming the first woman to lead a lap in the 500. She eventually led the race twice for five laps.
“I wish I would have led at the very beginning. I thought I was going to. So, it was nice to lead later on in the race, just to have done that, to lead laps,” Patrick said.
“But it was steady. I spent most of the day half throttle running behind people. So, you know when you get in that nice outside line where it’s just single file, I didn’t feel like it was a wise idea to drop low and try to figure out how to pass.
“You were going to probably find yourself much further back.”
• One moment the three Joe Gibbs Racing drivers were leading. The next moment two of them were out of the race.
Defending Daytona 500 winner Matt Kenseth led a race-high 86 laps and, at one point, teammates Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch were running second and third behind him. But Kenseth’s Toyota suddenly began smoking, forcing him to the garage. A few laps later, the same thing happened to Busch’s Toyota.
“I’m not sure if it’s an engine or a transmission,” Kenseth said. “Disappointing end to a great day.”
Busch said his car “just broke an engine for some reason. Kudos to all of the guys building these cars, but we’ve got to have engines that last.”