Danica Patrick Gets Off to Impressive Start in Rookie Season

By Phil Naegely
Daytona 500
Danica Patrick started off in the pole and ended the Daytona 500 in eighth place.

For a whole week now, most of the talk surrounding the Daytona 500 was Danica Patrick qualifying for the pole position. Then the talk shifted to her and others sitting on Saturday practice. Finally the day most of the country had been waiting for was here.

Patrick would be out of the poll and second place almost as soon as the race started. She did end up leading five laps and didn’t make any rookie errors like she did in the Nationwide Series race yesterday.

She showed that she definitely belongs in the Sprint Cup full-time. While she raced in the Daytona 500 last year, she wasn’t full-time last year.

The only two flaws I saw were on the last lap and one or two times when she leaved the pits. Other than those two times, she seemed to go in and out of the pit flawlessly.

With being in the last pit stop slot, Patrick at times found it hard to get back into the flow of those leaving the pit without hitting others. Also on one occasion leaving the pit, Patrick’s tires spun slowing her down and keeping her from winning the race out of the pit.

Overall though, Patrick showed the rest of the guys in the race that she is here to compete. This eighth place performance by Patrick today was not a fluke. She was constantly in the top 10 throughout the race and also in the top five at times.

For most of the last lap she was in the top five until she ultimately fell to eighth. One of the stories from today’s Daytona 500 is that Patrick is going to be a stiff competitor for the rest of the season.

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