After months and months of relentless speculation and waiting D-Day finally arrived in Daytona Beach. What was playfully known as “Danica Day” throughout the garage, open-wheel standout Danica Patrick made her long-awaited stock car debut and silenced many of her critics.
After spending the first half of the event receiving a crash course in restrictor-plate racing, her day nearly came to a halt after contact with Nelson Piquet Jr. sent her spinning through the tri-oval grass at 180 mph. In that moment, Patrick wowed even her biggest detractors by displaying the amazing car control needed to compete for wins at both the IndyCar and NASCAR levels.
“I just held to the yellow line because I know you’re not supposed to go below the yellow line to advance your position and I took myself out unfortunately,” she admitted.
As if the spin knocked the training wheels off, Patrick looked like a seasoned vet in the final 25 laps working her way through the field en route to a sixth-place finish.
“I was pretty excited to go from last to the top five,” Patrick said after the 80-lap event. “You can see I was racing by all of the marks on the car.”
The fact remains, however, that Patrick was racing against drivers even less experienced than herself and there is question as to whether she will compete in the Nationwide Series event in Daytona next weekend.
So now, we must wait again – the circus will stay in town for at least a few more days. Patrick showed Saturday that she can drive a stock car; now we wonder if she can do it with the best of the best.