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Danica silences the critics on stock car debut

Danica Patrick consummately and impressively proved the Doubting Thomases wrong with a gutsy and composed performance on her stock car debut in the ARCA Racing Series' Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 at Daytona Beach
After her sixth-place finish in last weekend's ARCA Racing Series outing at Daytona Beach – and the way in which she accomplished it – no longer should we ask, 'What is Danica Patrick doing in a stock car?' but rather more appropriate might be: 'Why is Patrick wasting her time in the IndyCar Series?'

Admittedly, it's one race. Admittedly, she was driving one of Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s old Sprint Cup cars. Admittedly, she had one of NASCAR's most wily crew chiefs in her corner, namely former Earnhardt pit boss Tony Eury Jr.

Don't forget, however, that Patrick rallied to finish sixth without the benefit of any significant practice time in the draft, a critical deficiency when it comes to restrictor-plate racing. Yes, she practised drafting during an ARCA test in December, but that was with a maximum of five or six cars, not a full field of 43.

Thursday's ARCA practice at Daytona was limited to single-car runs in preparation for Friday morning's qualifying session. Friday afternoon's practice was rained out. As a consequence, the fast lady from Wisconsin started Saturday's race with little or no idea of how her No.7 Chevrolet would behave in dirty air, surrounded by rivals trying to make names for themselves on the biggest stage ARCA has ever occupied.

And don't forget that Patrick went about her business as the focus of a maelstrom of attention that bordered on the manic. Under the circumstances, the diminutive driver weathered the storm with consummate grace.

“Once there's 20 interviews, what's the difference if there's 30?” she asked on Friday afternoon. “I have a lot of people helping me, making sure that I am where I need to be and that I have time to drive the car and do what I need to do there. I've had plenty of time to chill out in the truck and watch TV with the guys.”

Patrick's viewing included video of the 2009 ARCA race at Daytona, and she proved a quick study. By her own admission, she was 'hanging out' in the early stages of Saturday's 80-lap Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200, but the real test came when she faced major adversity for the first time in a stock car.

On lap 54, Patrick was hugging the yellow line as she exited Turn 4 when fellow rookie Nelson Piquet Jr. pinched her towards the apron. Already conversant with the no-passing-below-the-yellow-line rule, Patrick held her position, and a bump from Piquet sent her sliding across the infield grass and spinning back up onto the asphalt – all without making contact with the outside retaining wall.

Forced to the pits to repair minor damage and change tyres, Patrick re-started 24th on lap 57, but another quick caution kept her at the back until a subsequent re-start on lap 64. The Beloit native was at that point 23rd, but she went on to charge fearlessly through the field to run as high as fifth before the finish, getting the most out of a powerful car.




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Danica Patrick
Danica Patrick and crew chief Tony Eury Jr. made for a formidable team in the ARCA race at Daytona Beach in 2010, Patrick`s first outing in a stock car [Motorsports Images & Archives]
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet SS qualified for eleventh position September 19, 2014 for Sunday`s Chase Challenger 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. Earnhardt, Jr. is in the Chase which continues with the Challenger 16 for this and next week`s race. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS qualified for sixth position September 19, 2014 for Sunday`s Chase Challenger 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. Johnson is in the Chase which continues with the Challenger 16 for this and next week`s race. (Photo by Christa L Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Designate A Driver Chevrolet SS qualified for third position September 19, 2014 for Sunday`s Chase Challenger 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. Harvick is in the Chase which continues with the Challenger 16 for this and next week`s race. (Photo by Christa L Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jamie McMurray, driver of the #1 Belkin/Wemo Chevrolet SS qualified for second position September 19, 2014 for Sunday`s Chase Challenger 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #99 Aflac Ford, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 19, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, celebrates setting the pole position during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 19, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet, speaks at a press conference following practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 19, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Sarah Glenn/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Toyota, smiles at Clint Bowyer, driver of the #15 5-hour Energy Toyota, during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 19, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Jared Wickerham/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 19, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Designate a Driver Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 19, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brian Vickers, driver of the #55 Aaron`s Dream Machine Toyota, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 19, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Will Schneekloth/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet, prepares for practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 19, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Jared Wickerham/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, leads the field after a restart during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series MyAFibStory.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 14, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series MyAFibStory.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 14, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, places his name in the top twelve on The Chase Grid after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series MyAFibStory.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 14, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series MyAFibStory.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 14, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois.  (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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FooAtari - Unregistered

February 09, 2010 6:29 PM

@JD "Hardly surprising she has done well, give her a bit of practice and she would drive circles around the best that Nascar has. You could teach a monkey to drive around in circles, just show them the basics of drafting." Very ignorant statement. First off it was an ARCA race, which is a series NOT sanctioned by NASCAR (great reporting crash) and the caliber of drivers in ARCA is nowhere near the level of those in NASCAR. If it was that easy why isn't Montoya kicking ass week in, week out? And I'm a big fan of Dario Franchitti but the less said about his foray into NASCAR the better. It's really is NOT that easy. You just make yourself sound like an elitist pillock

FooAtari - Unregistered

February 09, 2010 7:22 PM

This is a pretty pointless discussion. Your just going to skew the facts anyway that can support your argument that NASCAR is a price of piss. Montoya won 7 GP's in F1. You don't do that by being mediocre. Sure he was far from the best, but he is pretty handy behind the wheel and was pretty competitive while in F1. Surely that puts him way above "any monkey" as you put it. I like Patrick. I think she gets a lot of crap considering she has to compete directly with men (unlike most sports) and I really hope she does well in stock cars. But moving to Nationwides/Sprint Cup is a whole new level from ARCA. That will be the real test of her ability.



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