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Danica Patrick Finishes Strong in Martinsville

When preseason experts and fans predicted where Danica Patrick would have the most successful, Martinsville Speedway certainly wasn’t at the top of the list. However, Patrick silenced her critics by finishing in the 12th position, her best finish at any non-restrictor plate track. With this being her first time at paper clip shaped racetrack, expectations were low and the nerves were high.

However, as the laps wound down and the Virginia sun set, Patrick was battling for a top 10 spot with Brian Vickers and Kevin Harvick. Though she would eventually finish in 12th, there was no doubt that this was a success for Patrick and her No. 10 team.

“I feel that is one of the things that I am most proud about is coming back from two laps down and being on the last lap,” said Patrick. “Then grabbing a 12th-place finish in the end was good and I think it was the right call to stay out because I don’t think tires were quite worth enough to pit, so it was a good run today.”

Vickers and Harvick Tangle in Closing Laps

While Patrick was busy securing a solid finish, Brian Vickers and Kevin Harvick were busy securing a rivalry. While racing for position back in tenth, Vickers forced Harvick to maintain his line while Vickers and Patrick raced. In the process, Vickers routinely cut Harvick off. Not taking too kindly to the hard racing, Harvick hooked Vickers’ left rear on the cool down lap of the race.

As the cars headed down pit lane, Harvick again expressed his anger by leaning his car against Vickers’. While Harvick declined comment, Vickers had his own theories about what played into Harvick’s temper tantrum.

“We haven’t really raced that much all day and then he (Harvick) just wrecked us after the checkered flag,” said Vickers. “It was a blatant, pretty blatant — he just turned right into us. The 10 (Danica Patrick) and I were racing pretty hard. I got to her and got under her several times and she ran me down in the marbles, ran me across the curb, was blocking pretty bad so I put the bumper to her a little bit. If you’re going to block — if you’re going to run me across the curb then you have to expect to get the same in return. We raced hard all day and we raced clean with a lot of people. I would say I did the same with Danica — I didn’t try to wreck her. If you’re going to run me through the marbles then what am I going to do?”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Loses Points Lead, Jimmie Johnson To The Top

Following an incident with Danica Patrick earlier in Sunday’s race at Martinsville, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. limped home to a 24th-place finish. A chain reaction involving Aric Almirola, Brian Vickers, and Patrick with 34 laps remaining was to blame for Earnhardt’s sub-par finish and eventual loss of the Sprint Cup Series points lead.

Meanwhile, Jimmie Johnson’s second wind of the season vaulted him to the top of the standings. He now holds a six-point advantage over last year’s champion Brad Keselowski. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. fell to third, while Kyle Busch and Kasey Kahne round out the top 5.

However, there is no need to panic or celebrate for either driver. With only six races complete out of s 36 race season, there is more than enough of a season left to go before either driver reaches any conclusions.

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