By David Morgan, NASCAR Editor
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The first part of the “Danica Double” didn’t quite go to plan in Sunday’s Daytona 500.
Making her final NASCAR start, Danica Patrick gave herself a fighting chance to try and win the Great American Race, but the roulette wheel that is restrictor plate racing, just didn’t fall her way as she got caught up in a crash on lap 101.
After starting 28th, Patrick was biding her time as she worked her way forward in the pack, but when things started getting dicey ahead of her just past the halfway point, she was unable to avoid the calamity in front of her and got swept up in the seven-car crash. Her final NASCAR finish will be a 35th place result.
“The car was a lot better than it was in the Duel,” said Patrick. “It was a lot better than practice. Tony Eury, Jr., my crew chief 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, a month ago. That is a tall order to get a car ready for a superspeedway that is competitive. But, it was.
“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. I am proud-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. Other than that, we raced it and the car was competitive. That is all you can do. That is the gamble at Daytona. It can go so well; and it can go so awful. I’m grateful for everything. Thank you to all the fans.”
Though she never won a race in her NASCAR tenure, she leaves a lasting legacy of being the most successful female to drive in NASCAR. Her final stats will show seven top-10 finishes, the 2013 Daytona 500 pole, and being the first female to lead a lap under green flag conditions.
Patrick will now turn her attention to a return to IndyCar and a run in the Indianapolis 500 before hanging up the helmet for good.
“Still have one more. It is not a stock car, but still have one more.”