Daytona 500 notebook: Patrick makes run at Daytona before finishing 8th
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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Danica Patrick proved Sunday her winning the pole for the 55th Daytona 500 wasn't a fluke. The Sprint Cup rookie ran in the top 10 for much of the 200-lap race before finishing eighth.
Patrick led twice for five laps. More impressive, she had the second-best driver's rating with 113.4, bested only by winner Jimmie Johnson's 125.7.
Patrick's performance was good enough that Red Bull offered her to audition for a Formula One ride. “I'm not a car geek. I don't feel like I have to drive a Formula One car to make my life complete,” she said.
Patrick was the real deal as she dueled with Hendrick Motorsports drivers — including Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. (second) and Jeff Gordon (20th). And she out-performed her Stewart-Haas teammate and owner Tony Stewart (41st). Ryan Newman, the other Stewart-Haas driver, finished fifth.
“I'm on a quest to be the best driver, run up front and get to Victory Lane,” Patrick said. “These things happen and I'm proud, but they're not the ultimate goal.”
Patient Montoya finds trouble
Juan Pablo Montoya was working hard to get his 42 Chevrolet back on the racetrack at Daytona International Speedway even though his chance of winning the Daytona 500 was lost when he was involved in a 9-car crash on Lap 33.
Montoya was driving conservatively, looking to hold the inside line and patiently searching for a draft partner. Instead, he was gathered up by Kasey Kahne, whose car slid into Montoya's 42 Chevrolet.
“For me, we were just counting laps,” said Montoya, driving for Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing. “We felt we had really good speed. We worked with (Stewart) earlier.”
Stuggles continue at Daytona for Edwards, Stewart
It was a rough Speedweek for Carl Edwards. And the Daytona 500 remains Stewart's albatross.
Edwards crashed for the fifth time in 10 days on the 2.5-mile tri-oval. He was involved in a 9-car crash on Lap 138 after Brad Keselowski spun out.
“I shouldn't have gotten out of line in the first place,” Edwards said. “This has not been fun. No matter how many cars we wreck, we're not giving in.”
It was another bitter 500 for Stewart, the all-time leading winner at Daytona International Speedway with 19 wins. He won the crash-filled Nationwide Series race on Saturday, but he again faltered in the main event for the 15th year in a row.
Ravens' Lewis honorary starter
Retiring Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis was the honorary starter. Lewis, who helped lead the Ravens to a Super Bowl victory earlier this month, was nervous about his role as starter.
“Actually, Brad (Keselowski) texted me on the way in and told me the one rule is don't drop the flag,” Lewis said. “Being here today is an awesome experience for all of us. We get to see a totally different world.”
Ralph N. Paulk is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @RalphPaulk_Trib.
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