(photo courtesy Leon Hammack)
|Date: March 26, 2017
Event: Auto Club 400 (Round 5 of 36)
Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Auto Club Speedway (2-mile oval)
Format: 202 laps, broken into three stages (60 laps/60 laps/82 laps)
Start/Finish: 22nd/26th (Running, completed 200 of 202 laps)
Point Standing: 29th (63 points, 180 out of first)
Race Winner: Kyle Larson of Chip Ganassi Racing in overtime (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Recap (Ends on Lap 60):
● Danica Patrick started 22nd and finished 27th.
● The No. 10 Aspen Dental Ford Fusion team pitted twice during Stage 1 for tires, fuel and wedge adjustments to help improve the car’s handling.
● Patrick reported the car’s handling was “tight center off” at the start of the race, and the wedge adjustments made it freer in turns three and four. She went a lap down to the leader at lap 35.
● Contact with the No. 95 car two laps before the end of Stage 1 forced the No. 10 team to pit between stages to repair the right-front damage.
Stage 2 Recap (Ends on Lap 120):
● Patrick started 28th and finished 26th.
● The team pitted at lap 91 for tires and fuel, and they added a piece of tape to the grille.
● Patrick was able to pick up two spots during the stage. She went down a second lap to the leader during a long, green-flag run at lap 102.
Final Stage Recap (Ends on Lap 200):
● Patrick started 24th and finished 26th.
● The No. 10 Aspen Dental Ford team elected to stay out between stages, so Patrick was able to take the wave-around and get one lap back.
● The team pitted at laps 138, 173, 187, 193 and 198 for tires, fuel and adjustments. When Patrick pitted at lap 138, the team discovered the right-rear tire had a puncture and was significantly low on air, which had impacted the car’s performance at the end of the previous stage as well as the start of the final stage.
● When the caution flag waved at lap 179, crew chief Billy Scott called for Patrick to stay out and wave around again to get a lap back.
● A series of late-race cautions prevented Patrick from gaining much ground, and she took the checkered flag scored 26th, two laps down to the leader.
● Patrick earned 11 points in Sunday’s race at Auto Club Speedway, which gives her a total of 63 points for the season thus far. She is ranked 29th in the driver point standings heading into next weekend’s race.
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 Aspen Dental Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:
“The Aspen Dental Ford team fought hard all day, and the guys did a great job on pit road. The right-front damage and the tire issue late in the race didn’t help us at all, but we kept pushing hard to get every spot we could all day.”
The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Martinsville 500 on Sunday, April 2 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. The race is scheduled to start at 2 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by Fox Sports 1.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!