Danica Patrick was passed for the lead with two laps to go in Friday's Nationwide race and finished 10th despite being involved in a multi-car crash as she crossed the finish line.
Mike Wallace moved up in front of Patrick as she closed in on the checkered flag and as she moved to avoid him, she got sideways off Almirola's bumper, collecting Steven Wallace, Elliott Sadler, Tony Stewart and others.
Patrick adapted very well to Daytona's tandem draft and was hooked up with her JR Motorsports teammate Aric Almirola and the two were in first and second with three laps to go. However, they got shuffled back as they got passed by Sadler and Tony Stewart and the duo couldn't get back to the front.
"It looked like Mike Wallace, it looked like he was struggling. He was kind of high and started drifting low and all the sudden came up high in front of me and there was just nowhere to go," Patrick told ESPN after the race.
"Kept my foot in it too. I know that's probably not the right thing to do when there's a crash. You know, I was going for broke in the GoDaddy car."
And no, Patrick's presence at the front in the waning laps wasn't a fluke. After qualifying in the top 10, she stayed there during virtually the entire race and led 13 laps, getting pushes from Stewart and Almirola throughout the race's 100 laps. Yes, Stewart -- who has become the self proclaimed arbiter of all things right and wrong in NASCAR -- trusted her enough to draft with her for a majority of the race.
In the February Nationwide race at Daytona, Patrick finished 14th and struggled at times to acclimate herself to the two-car tandem draft that's prevalent at Daytona and Talladega. At NASCAR's two restrictor-plate tracks, the fastest way around the track is for two cars to run nose-to-tail with the trailing car's front bumper glued to the car in front.
The 10th-place finish is Patrick's second NASCAR top 10 of the season after finishing fourth at Las Vegas in March. And does it mean that Patrick -- who said that she had a "hell of a lot of fun" Friday night -- moves to NASCAR full-time in 2012 from the IndyCar Series? Patrick has publicly remained non-committal about her future, despite reports that she's seriously considering moving to stock cars full-time.
- Danica Patrick
- Tony Stewart
- Steven Wallace
- Aric Almirola