Danica Patrick is in the midst a mid-summer heat wave, and Pocono Raceway is the latest sight of her consistent runs.
The No. 10 car crossed the finish line in 15th, earning the team’s fourth straight top-15 result. This is her longest top-15 streak in her Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career after making her series debut in 2012.
She never finished in the top 15 in back-to-back races prior to this current streak. In 2015, Patrick finished in the top 16 in three straight contests, including two top 10s at Martinsville Speedway and at Bristol Motor Speedway.
“That’s what I should be doing, so I guess at the end of the day, it’s the cycle of luck coming back around because at the beginning of the year, we had lots of races where we were running better,” Patrick said post-race. “Really silly things were happening, like people blowing rotors and taking me out while I was just near the top 10. Things like that were happening a lot.”
The No. 10 car ran as high as third during the Overton’s 400. During a lap 1 incident when Matt Kenseth spun out to create a multi-car melee, Patrick had a light spin, but was able to work her way into the top five at the end of stage 2.
Patrick’s luck has significantly improved over the past month. With seven DNFs through the first 17 contests, she never had the opportunity to show she had a car to compete with her Stewart-Haas Racing teammates.
— Joseph Wolkin (@JosephNASCAR) July 30, 2017
From a blown engine at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to being caught up in wrecks at Daytona (twice), Bristol, Talladega, Kansas and Michigan, she feels that she hasn’t caught a break.
“I think we would have had a whole lot more top 15s if not for that,” she said. “It’s kind of been the ebb and the flow of the season. Sometimes, it comes a little more here and there. But it seems like it came all at once earlier this year. I think is what we would have been doing at the start of the year.”
With Stewart-Haas Racing’s move to Ford this year, the organization has entered Victory Lane twice, with Kevin Harvick taking home the trophy after a dominant run at Sonoma Raceway and Kurt Busch’s win in the season-opening Daytona 500.
Patrick is now able to run on-par with her SHR teammates. The momentum she built after her first top 10 in over two years, which she earned at Dover International Speedway in June, is picking up.
Finally, she said, the No. 10 car is running like it should. With rumors of her possibly parting ways with the organization at season’s end, continuing this top-15 streak cannot hurt the Illinois native moving forward.