Originally written on Start 'N' Park Blog  |  Last updated 11/17/14

RICHMOND, VI - JUNE 26: Danica Patrick, driver of the #7 Boost Mobile Andretti Green Racing Dallara Honda during practice for the IRL Indycar Series SunTrust Indy Challenge on June 26, 2009 at the Richmond International Speedway in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Danica Patrick saw a potential top-20 finish end in a heartbreaking accident less than 70 laps from the finish in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race Saturday at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.

Patrick, who drives the No. 10 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet for Tommy Baldwin Racing via a collaborative agreement with Stewart-Haas Racing, was running 20th on lap 434 when the right front of Regan Smith’s car hit the left rear of her machine.

The contact sent Patrick out of control, and the nose of her GoDaddy.com Chevrolet slammed into the SAFER Barrier on the inside retaining wall.

The damage was too extensive for the GoDaddy team to fix with so few laps left in the race, and Patrick’s night was done.

It was a tough end to what had been a positive outing for Patrick, who was making just her fourth career Sprint Cup Series start and her first at the .533-mile oval.

After starting 43rd, Patrick stayed out of trouble and, with the help of spotter Tab Boyd, methodically climbed the standings while learning how to compete at one of NASCAR’s toughest tracks. She was as high as 17th on lap 325 and was in the top-20 and on the lead lap in the closing portion of the race. A solid finish was within reach until the contact with Smith ended her day.

“I haven’t seen the replay,” said Patrick, who finished ninth in the Food City 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series race Friday night at Bristol. “We’re all racing hard. This is Bristol, and this is why people love this track is because you see a lot of that, and you see tempers flare. It’s usually part of the broadcast and when they describe what’s going to happen. It was just a bummer because I really felt like the GoDaddy Chevrolet was going to get a solid, maybe a top-20, finish and on the lead lap. And that wouldn’t have been something that I thought would happen tonight. The team did a great job, and everything was running really smoothly. So it’s a shame that we lost that. But you know, Bristol is a place where you find out who’s playing fair and who’s not.”

Patrick’s race strategist, Greg Zipadelli, was impressed with her continued education in NASCAR’s top division.

“Every place we’ve gone – when she gets around people, she really learns what she needs to do, and we’re able to adjust on the car and get her better,” Zipadelli said. “She gained a lot of speed. I would say by far this is her best effort.”

Denny Hamlin won the Irwin Tools Night Race to score his 20th career Sprint Cup victory, his third of the season and his first at Bristol.

Jimmie Johnson finished 1.103 seconds behind Hamlin in the runner-up spot, while Jeff Gordon, Brian Vickers, and Marcos Ambrose rounded out the top-five. Kyle Busch, Clint Bowyer, Joey Logano, Kasey Kahne and Paul Menard comprised the remainder of the top-10.

There were 13 caution periods for 87 laps, with 11 drivers failing to finish the 500-lap race.

The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the AdvoCare 500 on Sunday, Sept. 2 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The race starts at 7:30 p.m. EDT, with live coverage provided by ESPN beginning with its pre-race show at 6:30 p.m.

MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Take your pick: Colin Kaepernick or Derek Carr

Report: Bears to bench Jay Cutler, start Jimmy Clausen

Jim Harbaugh to Michigan speculation building

Heat lose a key player with McRoberts out for rest of season

Belichick: Ryan is 'buttering me up' with Hall of Fame praise

Marshall: Bears need to gel and do some kumbaya

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Ray McDonald investigated for possible sexual assault

Red Sox appear content with rotation despite lack of true ace

Iguodala gets technical for mocking Conley travel

Bo Pelini takes shot at Nebraska during introductory presser

Belichick: Patriots need to play better against the Jets

Rex Ryan doesn't want to get in trouble talking about Revis

12 candidates to replace Paul Chryst at Pitt

Brad Halsey claimed he was on cocaine for Bonds record HR

Wade Miley confident in health, diet after trade from D-Backs

When bowl results mean more for one school than another

Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson lead in 2014 athlete Google searches

Max Scherzer next domino to fall in free agent market

Another "Fire John Idzik' plane flies at Jets practice

Four can't-miss match-ups in NFL's Week 16

Report: Some Browns shunned Manziel during pregame

Making an attempt to understand Celtics' priorities

Gronk makes awkward sausage joke on 'Top Chef'

Walmart ripped for confusing Anthony/Lin doll

All Sports News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

When bowl results mean more for one school than another

Four can't-miss match-ups in NFL's Week 16

RG3 quits social media for season

Each NFL division’s MVP

5 NFLers who must step up in Week 16

Most impressive college hoops teams

Five reasons why FSU is going to win the CFB Playoff

Boxer admits to dive in Rourke bout

FCC heard about Brady's swearing?

Embracing the hate of the Eagles-Cowboys Rivalry

DeSean Jackson mocks Eagles

Andrew Hawkins defends shirt

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.