Date: Feb. 23, 2014
Event: 56th Daytona 500 (Round 1 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway (2.5-mile oval)
Start/Finish: 27th/40th (Running, completed 145 of 200 laps)
Point Standing: 37th (5 points)
Winner: Dale Earnhardt Jr. of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), finished 40th in the season-opening Daytona 500 after a hard crash ended her night 145 laps into the 200-lap race.
Patrick, who led once for two laps, was running midpack on lap 145 when the cars of Kevin Harvick, Brian Scott and Aric Almirola got together exiting turn four and Almirola’s machine was sent into the SAFER Barrier on the outside retaining wall. Almirola’s No. 43 Ford then shot across the track and hit Patrick’s GoDaddy Chevy in the rear, causing her machine to veer to the right and make hard contact with the concrete retaining wall on the outside of the frontstretch.
Her car came to rest in the infield grass, too heavily damaged for her to continue. She was checked and released from the infield care center.
“I think more than anything I am just upset because the GoDaddy car felt really good and it was the best car that I had all Speedweeks,” Patrick said. “It seemed like we could catch whoever and it seemed like we could move around, make lanes and just move around and move forward at the end of the day. I felt like everything was going pretty well, so it’s just upsetting. It’s a bummer, but you know that is the excitement of speedway racing that anything can happen, and it was unfortunate that I was on the short end of the accident. But that is the kind of thing that happens, and I appreciate everyone sticking around and watching, and we will go get them at Phoenix.”
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, led the way for SHR at Daytona by finishing 13th.
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 21st after leading once for 15 laps.
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 35th after encountering fuel pressure issues midway through the race and completing only 174 of 200 laps. It was Stewart’s 16th start in the season-opening NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race and his first since Aug. 4, 2013, at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, as Stewart missed the last 15 races of the 2013 season while he recovered from a broken right leg sustained in a sprint car crash on Aug. 5.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., won the Daytona 500 to score his 20th career Sprint Cup victory and second Daytona 500 win. He also won in 2004.
Denny Hamlin finished behind Earnhardt in the runner-up spot as the race ended under caution, while Brad Keselowski, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson rounded out the top-five. Matt Kenseth, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Greg Biffle, Austin Dillon and Casey Mears comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were seven caution periods for 39 laps, with 11 drivers failing to finish the 200-lap race, which was stopped for 6 hours, 22 minutes after just 38 laps due to rain.
With round one of 36 complete, Kevin Harvick leads the SHR contingent in the championship point standings. He is 12th, 17 points behind first-place Earnhardt. Busch is 20th, 24 points out of first. Stewart is 32nd, 39 points out of first. Patrick is 37th, 43 points out of first.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is The Profit on CNBC 500k on Sunday, March 2 at Phoenix International Raceway. The race starts at 3 p.m. EST, with live coverage provided by FOX beginning with its prerace show at 2 p.m.