By: Farrah Kaye
While Ryan Briscoe was taking the pole for the Indianapolis 500, Danica Patrick was busy gearing up for her first appearance at Iowa.
The weekend started off well for Patrick, finishing ninth in the only practice and qualifying ninth in a field that included only one Cup driver (Kurt Busch). The Cup regulars and Truck series drivers were in Charlotte, so many chose not to pull double duty.
Elliott Sadler took the pole for the second time this year with points leader Ricky Stenhouse Jr. starting third. Stenhouse, who is the defending race-winner, quickly took over the race lead and reminded everyone why he’s won the last two races at the track.
Patrick, meanwhile, fell back quickly. She was a lap down but received the “lucky dog” during the first caution on lap 83. But the luck didn’t matter, as tire wear was becoming an issue and her No. 7 GoDaddy machine fell victim. After the right front tire went down, Patrick hit the wall and took the car to the garage on lap 113.
According to Goodyear, the tire went down because of a melted bead, something that was plaguing the field.
Patrick said she had no warning or feeling the incident was coming.
“It just blew,” she said. “We were pretty tight in the first run, that’s why we dropped back. I had a little brake vibration and (they) covered the holes. I think we went too far.”
Patrick felt the change was what caused the wreck, but Goodyear said it was the melted bead.
“The Goodyear guys know more than I do. We were on a good roll,” she said. “We were up to the lead lap cars and it would have been nice to have made one or two more changes. These are things that happen. You have 34 weekends and they’re not always going to go perfect.”
Patrick leaves Iowa 10th in points and has now recorded her second DNF in 2012. She was officially recorded in 30th position, having finished 113 of the 250 laps.
“The most important thing for me is not to get to the end and get results but to be competitive. To run well,” Patrick said. “We couldn’t quite close it out.”
Stenhouse won the race, making it three in a row at Iowa, after leading 209 of the 250 laps. He now has a 28 point lead over Elliott Sadler.
The series next heads to the hub of NASCAR at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where Patrick will pull double duty, driving in both the HISTORY 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race and the Coca-Cola 600.