Phoenix- Many outside the NASCAR community thought Danica Patrick had turned the corner and was ready to contend in the NASCAR world. She started on the pole for the biggest race of the season at Daytona International Speedway last weekend and ran up front all race.
Patrick was running third all the way up to the final lap with a shot to win it but made a costly mistake, not making a move for the win and found her way back to eighth instead. All in all though fans were happy to see her contending and thought she’d turn the corner.
Her performance in the first two days at Phoenix is showing she’s not quite there yet.
Patrick, was near the bottom of the practice chart yesterday and found herself qualifying 40th place for Sunday’s Subway Fresh Fit 500. Her lap was nearly six-mph slower than Mark Martin’s pole speed as she struggled with the handling of her No. 10 Go Daddy Chevrolet.
On Saturday, she still struggled to grasp the new Gen-6 car as she was a dismal 35th of 43 cars in the opening practice session on race setup. Her top lap on race set-up was nearly identical to qualifying trim which shows she’s not quite ready yet.
She’s certainly going to get some slack for that this weekend, but to have her back in this she’s not ready yet. Patrick, was rushed along too quickly to the top ranks in NASCAR far before she’s ready to compete.
Danica would have been better off racing one more year in the Nationwide Series before moving up to Cup this season. She could have got a better grasp of the car and been more competitive. Instead, the type of performance she’s giving at Phoenix will be a regularity all season on tracks outside of restrictor plate races.
Those type of tracks are much easier to drive as it’s comparable to her IndyCar days. All drivers need to do at Daytona and Talladega is hold the pedal down and drive. There’s not much driver skill involved in that. In tracks she actually has to drive, she’s going to struggle.
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