Patrick protects pole after safe run in duel

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — All Danica Patrick needed to do was keep her car intact. She didn’t exactly follow her team owner’s advice — start and then park after two laps, he joked — but she certainly saved an all-out push for Sunday’s Daytona 500.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — All Danica Patrick needed to do was keep her car intact.

She didn’t exactly follow her team owner’s advice — start and then park after two laps, he joked — but she certainly saved an all-out push for Sunday’s Daytona 500.

Patrick started on the pole for the first 150-mile Budweiser Duel before she coasted and finished 17th out of 23 cars. She’ll keep the top spot for Sunday’s Daytona 500.

She led the field to green, then quietly faded to the back, never giving herself a chance to race for the win.

“I suppose there’s a sense of relief” she kept the pole, Patrick said. “But at the same point in time, I’m a race car driver, and it’s not fun to have to protect and be careful and be cautious and drop back at times.”

Patrick was nowhere near the four-lap sprint to the finish that saw Kevin Harvick hold off Greg Biffle for the win. She became the first woman in history to win a pole in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup series. Team owner Gene Haas even suggested — perhaps, jokingly — that Patrick call it a day after a couple of laps.

Not a chance.

“We really just wanted to run probably 10 or 15 laps and be in the pack, be in front,” crew chief Tony Gibson said. “Once we got into a stalemate, we fell back, the inside line wasn’t moving and it was just time to get out.”

No driver has won the Daytona 500 from the pole since Dale Jarrett in 2000.

She can’t rest easy yet, not with Cup practices today and Saturday, where any wreck could send her to the back of the field. But she passed the first major of Speedweeks since she thrust herself and NASCAR into the national spotlight with a history-making run at the pole for “The Great American Race.”

“My nerves will be calmed down a little bit Saturday afternoon when practice is over and our car’s in one piece,” Gibson said.

Her debrief was, well, brief. Her No. 10 Chevrolet had a tachometer issue and she enjoyed taking the outside lane. Other than those tidbits, Patrick had little analysis for her mundane performance.

“I hate coming to the end like that and just lagging back,” she said. “That’s not fun, but it’s also really ignorant to go drive up into the pack and be part of an accident for absolutely no reason. You’re really not going to learn much there.”

Patrick knows all about how miserable it can be driving in the back of the field, with no serious chance for the checkered flag. Her average start was 36th and her average finish was 28th in her 10 Cup races last season. She got caught in a crash on just the second lap of her Daytona 500 debut last season and finished 38th.

Patrick has struggled in three NASCAR seasons and has never finished better than 17th. She made the fulltime jump to the top series this season.

Her chance to show what she could do racing up front from the start never got going.

“It’s not fun racing like that, I know it’s not a lot of fun for her,” Gibson said. “Our car’s in one piece for now.”

Patrick is the fresh face of NASCAR heading into the series’ season-opener. She signed autographs without slowing a step as she whisked through the fan zone on her way to the hauler. Patrick fans camped out on seats atop the garage and yelled, “Danica, we love you!” as she went to the hauler.

She’s handled the pressure of the pole with the same ease she handled the No. 10. Patrick said Thursday’s run was comparable to a test session.

If she keeps the top spot until Sunday, all she’ll need to do is pick where she’ll race, not when to drop back

“Do I have to start on the inside on Sunday? I’m not really sure,” she said. “Where does the pole start? The outside looked pretty nice.”

Just Posted

Gabe Cuthand, Brandon McDonald, Dean Johnson and Dakota Dion drumming during a past Indigenous Peoples Day celebration at City Hall Park in Red Deer (Advocate file photo).
Indigenous Peoples Day will be celebrated online on Monday in Red Deer

National Indigenous Peoples Day will be celebrated in Red Deer on Monday… Continue reading

(Black Press file photo).
A look at COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada on Friday, June 18, 2021

The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4:00 a.m.… Continue reading

(Black Press file photo).
AstraZeneca second dose ‘good choice’ despite federal guidance: B.C.’s top doctor

THE CANADIAN PRESS VICTORIA — British Columbia’s top doctor says there is… Continue reading

A person walks past a colourful wall while wearing a protective mask in the warm weather during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, June 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
A look at COVID-19 reopening plans across the country

As COVID-19 vaccination rates increase and case numbers drop across the country,… Continue reading

Ubuntu – Mobilizing Central Alberta co-founder Dieulita Datus (front left) received a Multiculturalism, Indigenous and Inclusion Grant for the organization from the Government of Alberta. (Photo by Advocate staff)
Central Alberta organization promoting diversity, inclusion receives $6,000 grant from Alberta gov’t

Ubuntu was given the funds to further its work into equality and equity for all

A supporter of presidential candidate Ebrahim Raisi holds a sign during a rally in Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, June 16, 2021. Iran's clerical vetting committee has allowed just seven candidates for the Friday, June 18, ballot, nixing prominent reformists and key allies of President Hassan Rouhani. The presumed front-runner has become Ebrahim Raisi, the country's hard-line judiciary chief who is closely aligned with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
Iran votes in presidential poll tipped in hard-liner’s favor

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iranians voted Friday in a presidential… Continue reading

Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto, left, and President Seiko Hashimoto attend the news conference after receiving a report from a group of infectious disease experts on Friday, June 18, 2021, in Tokyo. The experts including Shigeru Omi, head of a government coronavirus advisory panel, issued a report listing the risks of allowing the spectators and the measurements to prevent the event from triggering a coronavirus spread. (Yuichi Yamazaki/Pool Photo via AP)
Top medical adviser says ‘no fans’ safest for Tokyo Olympics

TOKYO (AP) — The safest way to hold the Tokyo Olympics is… Continue reading

FILE - In this June 12, 2021, file photo, Rajkumar Haryani, 38, who painted his body to create awareness about vaccination against the coronavirus poses for photographs after getting a dose of Covishield vaccine in Ahmedabad, India. Starting June 21, 2021, every Indian adult can get a COVID-19 vaccine dose for free that was purchased by the federal government. The policy reversal announced last week ends a complex system of buying vaccines that worsened inequities in accessing vaccines. India is a key global supplier of vaccines and its missteps have left millions of people waiting unprotected. The policy change is likely to address inequality but questions remain and shortages will continue. (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki, File)
How India is changing vaccine plan amid shortages

NEW DELHI (AP) — Starting Monday, every adult in India will be… Continue reading

Chief of Defence staff General Jonathan Vance speaks during a news conference to , in Ottawa Tuesday August 30, 2016. The Canadian Armed Forces says it is making progress in the fight against sexual misconduct in the ranks, but much more work needs to be done. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
Freeze promotions until military commanders are screened for misconduct: Committee

OTTAWA — A parliamentary committee has called for a freeze on all… Continue reading

Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Ahmed Hussen takes part in an update on the COVID-19 pandemic, in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. Hussen says he is looking to municipalities to reshape local rules to more quickly build units through the government's national housing strategy. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Cities should redo planning, permitting to align with housing strategy, minister says

OTTAWA — The federal minister in charge of affordable housing says he… Continue reading

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. On June 1, NACI had said AstraZeneca recipients "could" get Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna for their second shot if they wanted, but Thursday went further to say an mRNA vaccine was the "preferred" choice. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

When Gwenny Farrell booked her second dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine… Continue reading

Brooklyn Nets' James Harden, right, is guarded by Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, center, during the first half of Game 6 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series Thursday, June 17, 2021, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
Bucks bounce back to defeat Nets 104-89 and force Game 7

MILWAUKEE — Khris Middleton scored 38 points, Giannis Antetokounmpo added 30 and… Continue reading

Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point (21) brings the puck up the ice against the New York Islanders during the third period of Game 3 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinals, Thursday, June 17, 2021, in Uniondale, N.Y. Tampa Bay won 2-1.(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Point scores again, Lightning beat Islanders 2-1 in Game 3

Lightning 2 Islanders 1 (Tampa Bay leads series 2-1) UNIONDALE, N.Y. —… Continue reading

Most Read