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

John Beilin upset with ESPN for late start time to game

Tyson Chandler felt like Knicks' scapegoat at times

Fred Jackson has 'no respect' for Donte Whitner

Devon Still responds to unpaid child support allegations

Diamondbacks sign Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomas

Josh Gordon felt alienated by some in Browns organization

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Jerry Jones: I'm a big admirer of Robert Griffin III

Raiola fined for uneccesarily striking Pats' Zach Moore

Report: Michigan keeping Jim Hackett on as athletic director

LeBron James on Ferguson: 'Violence is not the answer'

Decision on Ray Rice's appeal could come Wednesday

Jaguars coach calls out Blake Bortles: ‘We expect more’

Brodeur to practice with Blues

OSU player posts Michigan player's girlfriend as his 'WCW'

Jim Harbaugh's family may not eat turkey thanks to NBC

Ole Miss' The Grove threatened by Mississippi State fan

Is it time for the Redskins to move on from Robert Griffin III?

Top 10 fantasy football turkeys for 2014

WATCH: Coyotes lose in ugly fashion, score own goal in OT

Warriors are having tons of fun on team plane

Jenn Sterger hints she'll be back in her FSU cowgirl gear for game

Game of the week: Kansas City Chiefs vs. Denver Broncos

Top storyline for each Week 13 NFL game

Floyd Mayweather throws shade at Pacquiao on Instagram

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.

John Beilin upset with ESPN

Should Washington move on from RG3?

Dominic Raiola fined for cheap shots

Game of the week: Kansas City Chiefs vs. Denver Broncos

Rose leaves with injury again

WATCH: Pierce signs for fan during game

Report: McCoy to start over RG3

Braxton Miller headed to Oregon?

10 most one-sided college football rivalries

Pierce: C's Big Three like 'Holy Trinity'

Maclin unhappy with Cooper comments

Post-Week 13 CFB Playoff projection

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.