For the second week in a row the NASCAR Sprint Cup rookie initiation for Danica Patrick continues to be a rough one. A week after a hard hit at Phoenix International Raceway, Patrick came to Las Vegas Motor Speedway hoping to at least survive a complete a race and score a decent finish at the end of the day.
At least she was able to finish the Kobalt Tools 400 Sunday.
Patrick had a tall order even prior to the green flag. Rain washed out Friday’s qualifying session and Patrick was forced to start 37 based on last season owner points. That was the only highlight of the weekend for the Stewart-Haas Racing driver.
When the checkered flag fell Sunday, Patrick was scored 33 six laps of the lead.
“It was a real tough day, no doubt,” Patrick said. “We knew we were going to have tough days, but this is not the kind of tough day we thought about. We need to figure out how and why it (the car) changes so much from practice to the race and really learn this new car. I was extremely loose the whole time.”
“We made it a little bit better in the middle of the race, to the point where it would go for half the run,” she added. “But by the end of every run I would find myself very, very loose again. Being behind traffic, the aerodynamics change a lot, and it’s a handful. I felt like I was about to spin on the frontstraight. We just have to figure out how to make it better and work our butts off to make sure that we never have this day again.”
As Patrick continues her first full year in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with Stewart-Haas Racing, she is well aware that not every race will be a positive one.
“These are the days, and I said this on the radio, these are the days you earn your money, not the days like Daytona where you run up in the top-five all day,” said Patrick, who finished eighth in the Daytona 500. “Those days are great, but you’re just marching forward. These are the days that you have to be strong and you have to work through it and not let it drag you down.”