Despite the continuing buzz surrounding NASCAR Sprint Cup Series superstar and marketing machine Danica Patrick, the running joke has always been and will continue to be that her results will never match her hype. However, today at Martinsville Speedway Patrick had her second impressive run of the season, once again amid conditions that put a strain on even the most veteran drivers, much like the seasoning opening Daytona 500 that impressed even the most skeptical of race fans.
It started bad enough for Patrick, and would only get worse. After struggling in qualifying, Patrick would begin the race from the 32nd spot, or so she thought. Due to an engine change, the Stewart-Haas Racing team would start from last place on the grid, dashing any expectations that Patrick had brought with her to the small Virginia short-track.
Initially, things where looking good as she began a hard charge towards the front, but that was all dashed after Patrick spun after making an over-aggressive passing attempt against Ken Schrader. Back in the pack, but with a lot of race to go, Patrick and veteran crew chief Tony Gibson had their work cut out for them, looking to get Patrick towards the run of the field.
As the race played out, Patrick did her part while Gibson worked on the car, and soon Patrick was in the top 15. There she would stay, bringing home a hard-earned 12th place finish, with a barely damaged race car. In the end, it was easily her most successful run of the season, even more successful than the run she put together at Daytona.
It was her first time seeing the difficult Martinsville track, and at the end of the day Patrick bested both her teammates Ryan Newman and team owner Tony Stewart. Patrick faces a tough test again next week at Texas Motor Speedway, and despite struggling at 1.5 mile tracks, Patrick has a new-found momentum and confidence that should allow her to impress in the lone star state.
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