Will Danica continue to improve?
Photo by Kyle Rivas/NASCAR via Getty Images
Danica Patrick turns laps at Kansas Speedway in May. Patrick finished seventh, her career-best.
By David Culpepper
August 16, 2014
Disclaimer: Opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.
It's no surprise that Danica Patrick would carry popularity when she announced she would be jumping ship from IndyCar to NASCAR in 2010, but will the 32-year-old NASCAR star continue to make strides in the right direction?
Patrick’s on-track performance is at her best in 2014, including her qualifying statistics. The driver has made it to the final round of qualifying seven times this season, posting a season best fourth place qualifying run in May’s Coca-Cola 600.
Patrick will start 14th for Sunday’s race.
Patrick made her NASCAR debut in 2010 in the Nationwide Series. She ran a part-time schedule for Dale Earnhardt Jr. and JR Motorsports with GoDaddy backing her in the No. 7 Chevrolet for three seasons.
During her time in the Nationwide Series, Patrick achieved a career best finish of fourth at Las Vegas in March 2011, setting the record for the best finish by a female in NASCAR.
In 2012, her only full-time year in the Nationwide Seires, Patrick gradually improved yet again by contenting week-in-and-week-out for wins, top-five and top-ten finishes.
2013 marked the year Patrick went full-time Cup with Stewart-Haas Racing, running for Rookie of the Year. Patrick earned the pole and finished eighth in the Daytona 500.
Patrick only scored one top-ten finish in 2013, en route to 27th in points.
Currently in 2014, Patrick has shown strength and improvement, especially in one race that deserves and honorable mention: Kansas. Most people remember Kansas as a race where Jeff Gordon edged Kevin Harvick for the win but this writer remembers something more important that night, Danica Patrick.
Danica was running third within the last hundred laps and showed that she'd be a contender for the race win, ending the night in seventh place.
Will Danica continue to improve? This writer says yes, because she has proven that her Kansas run wasn't a fluke, qualifying is become formidable and she the ability to finish on the lead lap more frequent than last year.
Through 22 races, Patrick has finished lead lap ten times, a feat she did 12 times in 2013. Patrick could be compared to fine wine—she’s only going to get better as time passes.