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DANICA PATRICK - 2014 Pocono II Race Report
Event: GoBowling.com 400 (Round 21 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Pocono (Pa.) Raceway (2.5-mile triangle)
Start/Finish: 10th/30th (Running, completed 156 of 160 laps)
Point Standing: 28th (396 points, 361 out of first)
Winner: Dale Earnhardt Jr. of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Danica Patrick’s day didn’t go the way she had hoped in Sunday’s GoBowling.com 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway.
Her No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) started 10th and was solidly in the top-15 from the drop of the green flag at Pocono until trouble struck at lap 14, when Patrick hit the outside wall as she exited turn two. The contact with the wall led to a severe tire rub and, just one lap later, caused Patrick’s right-rear tire to fail as she attempted to bring her car to pit road.
Patrick brought the damaged, bright-green GoDaddy machine to her crew’s attention on pit lane. She shut off the car’s engine while her crew worked to hammer out the battered right-side sheet metal and attempted to repair the car’s front-end alignment, which had been knocked out due to the incident. The crew also changed four tires, added fuel and sent Patrick back on the track in 42nd-place, one lap down to the leaders.
Initially, it seemed as if the damage had been fixed as Patrick got her lap back and was able to fight her way back into the top-30 with fast lap times. However, the longer the race went, the worse the car’s handling became. The crew performed multiple pit stops to try and fix the problems with fresh tires, air-pressure adjustments, chassis adjustments and alignment work, but nothing seemed to help Patrick, who reported the car’s steering was off.
After multiple attempts to diagnose and fix the problem, crew chief Tony Gibson told his driver that the crew believed something in the steering had been bent during the earlier contact with the wall. Despite the difficulties, Patrick fought through the handling woes and was able to gain spots on the track, finishing 30th.
“I feel so badly that I started the problems when I hit the fence there in turn two,” Patrick said. “I just wish I would have been smart enough to bring our GoDaddy Chevy to pit lane as soon as it happened, but sometimes tire rubs seem worse than what they are, so I stayed out there and we lost the tire. I’m really disappointed, and I know all the guys are, too.
“We had a really fast GoDaddy Chevy today, and I can’t thank my guys enough for getting the car back so good. There for a while I really thought we were going to be able to turn the day into something good, and then the car just went bad all of a sudden. It just wasn’t meant to be. I’m not sure what happened, but I know the guys will take the car back to the shop and get it all figured out. Gibson told me over the radio that he feels like something bent in the steering box and just got worse and worse as the race went on. Just like last week, we qualified better and had a good car for the race, it just didn’t end the way we wanted it to. We just need to keep doing what we are doing, and it’s all going to come together for us one weekend.”
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS, led the way for SHR by finishing second. Harvick started sixth and led two times for five laps en route to his sixth top-five this season and his sixth top-five in 28 career Sprint Cup starts at Pocono. It was also his 106th top-five in 487 career Sprint Cup starts.
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for SHR, started fourth and finished 13th after leading three times for 30 laps.
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Code3/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS for SHR, started 16th and finished 36th after being caught up in a multicar accident. Stewart spent multiple laps in the garage undergoing substantial repairs.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the GoBowling.com 400 to score his 22nd career Sprint Cup victory, his third of the season and his second consecutive win at Pocono.
Harvick finished .228 of a second behind Earnhardt in the runner-up spot, while Joey Logano, Clint Bowyer and Greg Biffle rounded out the top-five. Jeff Gordon, Jamie McMurray, Ryan Newman, Denny Hamlin and Kasey Kahne comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were eight caution periods for 35 laps, with nine drivers failing to finish the 160-lap race.
With round 21 of 36 complete, Harvick leads the SHR contingent in the championship point standings. He is 11th with 608 points, 149 behind series leader Gordon. Stewart is 19th with 537 points, 220 out of first. Busch is 23rdwith 488 points, 269 out of first. Patrick is 28th with 396 points, 361 out of first.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the 355k at The Glen on Sunday, Aug. 10 at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International. The race starts at 1 p.m. EDT, with live coverage provided by ESPN beginning with its prerace show at noon.