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From the Marbles

Danica Patrick bounces back to finish 12th after early spin at Martinsville

Nick Bromberg
From The Marbles

The pieces were in place for Danica Patrick to struggle on Sunday at Martinsville.

It was her first race at the tricky half-mile oval, she hadn't finished in the top 25 since finishing 8th at Daytona and she was starting 32nd at a track where drivers start to get lapped before fans have time to finish their first hot dog of the day.

Plus, she spun 17 laps into the 500 lap race and lost a lap. At that point, you could have gotten astronomically high odds that she would have wound up the highest finishing Stewart-Haas Racing driver, let alone grab a top 15 finish.

If you did make that bet, you would have cashed in big time.

After staying out on the track before the race's final restart with eight laps to go, Patrick restarted in 11th place and ended up 12th after being passed by Brian Vickers on the final lap.

Before Patrick got back on to the lead lap, she fell two laps down after she was lapped again after her spin. But in the middle of the race, she took the wavearound on consecutive cautions to put her even with the leaders, and she stayed there the rest of the day.

"I felt like I made a lot of passes," Patrick said. "I wonder if I made the most -- I feel like I just passed all day. I'm sure a lot of people do that at a short track."

Her statement may not be much of an exaggeration. Patrick did more than just hang on to the tail end of the lead lap in the final half of the race. Though one of those passes came via a spin. As she was to the inside of Dale Earnhardt Jr. on lap 467, she got bumped by Vickers and that contact sent her into the left side of Junior's car and Junior into a spin.

Through six races, Patrick is 26th in the points standings, though her two teammates Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman aren't much better. Stewart, who finished 17th, is in 22nd and Newman, who was penalized three laps for intentionally stopping on the track to bring out a caution flag because of a flat tire, is 23rd.

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