Danica Patrick finished 29th in the Toyota Owners 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Saturday night at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.
Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), dealt with a car that was loose on entry, tight in the center and loose on exit in the corners of the .75-mile oval.
While crew chief Tony Gibson tried a series of chassis and tire pressure adjustments, nothing brought the GoDaddy.com machine to life. Patrick finished four laps down in her first Sprint Cup Series start at Richmond.
“We were just so tight in the center of the corner,” Patrick said. “We just couldn’t loosen the car up enough to make the center work the way we needed to. Tony Gibson and the Go Daddy guys threw a lot at it, but we just couldn’t get the center quite right. We were loose in, tight center, loose off, but as much as we tried to loosen up the center, we never really affected the entry either.”
Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Outback Steakhouse Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 15th, while Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS, finished 18th.
Kevin Harvick won the Toyota Owners 400 to score his 20th career Sprint Cup victory, his first of the season and his third at Richmond.
Clint Bowyer finished .343 of a second behind Harvick in the runner-up spot, while Joey Logano, Juan Pablo Montoya and Jeff Burton rounded out the top-five. Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth, Aric Almirola, Kurt Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr. comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were 11 caution periods for 75 laps, with six drivers failing to finish the 406-lap race, which was extended six laps by a green-white-checkered finish.
With round nine of 36 complete, Newman continues to lead the SHR contingent in the championship point standings. He moved up one spot to 16th and has 229 points, 114 back of series leader Jimmie Johnson and 42 points behind 10th-place Paul Menard. Stewart fell one spot to 22nd place in the standings and has 207 points, 136 out of first and 64 behind Menard. Patrick dropped one spot to 26th place in the standings and has 169 points, 174 behind Johnson and 102 away from Menard.
Seventeen races remain before the 12-driver, 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup begins Sept. 15 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. Only the top-10 in points are locked into the Chase. Positions 11 and 12 in the Chase are wild cards, awarded to the two drivers between 11th and 20th in points with the most wins. If multiple drivers have the same number of wins, a driver’s point standing serves as the tiebreaker.
Patrick, who is competing for Rookie of the Year honors against Ricky Stenhouse Jr., finished 13 spots behind Stenhouse, who placed 16th.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Aaron’s 499 Sunday, May 5 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. The race starts at 1 p.m. EDT, with live coverage provided by FOX beginning with its pre-race show at noon.