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Sprint Cup - Patrick Race Report

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Daytona, Feb. 28, 2012: Danica Patrick was caught in a multi-car accident not of her making on the third lap of Monday night’s rain-delayed 54th Daytona 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and finished a disappointing 38th.

Patrick qualified 29th but dropped to the rear of the field at the start of the event per NASCAR rules as a crash in Thursday’s Gatorade Duel Qualifying race forced her to a back-up car. Patrick drives the No. 10 Chevrolet Impala for Tommy Baldwin Racing (TBR) via a collaborative agreement with Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR).

Unfortunately, Patrick never got the chance to settle into the race’s rhythm. As she entered the first turn on lap three, the front of Elliott Sadler’s Chevrolet hit the back of five-time Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson’s Chevrolet and sent him nose first into the outside retaining wall.

While trying to avoid the accident in front of her, Patrick and David Ragan made contact and began to spin, causing both to hit the wounded car of Johnson. Patrick’s car suffered heavy damage, and she was forced to drive the garage for repairs.

For more than one hour, the Go Daddy team worked to repair the car, including replacing the entire rear-end, while also fixing cosmetic damage to several portions of her Chevrolet. Patrick returned to the 2.5-mile oval on Lap 65, 62 laps behind the leaders and in 40th position.

From there, she and race strategist Greg Zipadelli decided that logging laps, getting valuable seat time and experiencing live pit stops were all that could be salvaged from a disappointing day.

“Any lap that I turn is progression, that’s for sure,” Patrick said. “That’s why I was so proud of everyone working so hard. They were working hard to get me back on the track. Was there much to gain as far as position? No. What there was to gain was for me to get the experience of running out there. We ran in packs for a while. The car is a little bent up. Honestly, it didn’t feel perfect. So as it got later and later in the race, I didn’t want to have an influence on it. I didn’t want something to happen to it or break and shoot across the track.

“I kind of feel like I almost need to put the whole week in perspective; it’s just been up and down. Everything from running good in the Duels to crashing on the last lap, to qualifying on the pole, to running well in the Nationwide (race) to crashing; and a lot of this stuff obviously is out of your control at times. And that’s kind of the exciting time about Daytona and big tracks is that anything can happen and will happen, as we’ve seen. But I learned a lot. I got a lot of experience, and I’m really proud of the Go Daddy crew putting the car back together. They had to do some welding and whatnot. But I got back out there. It felt all right considering the fact that they were welding; I think it felt really good.”

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