'Gutsy' pit call gives Danica Patrick 16th

Starts from 19th in loose car.

'Gutsy' pit call gives Danica Patrick 16th
Danica Patrick, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
Ty Dillon, Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet and Danica Patrick, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet

 Danica Patrick and the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) left Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn with a 16th-place finish in Sunday’s rain-plagued Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race after crew chief Daniel Knost made a gutsy pit call. 

Patrick started the race from the 19th position and was scored 21st when the caution flag waved for the first time for rain at lap 11. The event was red-flagged and she was able to consult with Knost about adjustments the team needed to make once the race went back to green-flag conditions. 

Over the course of the first 50 laps, the event was delayed on three occasions by rain and then NASCAR’s efforts to dry the track surface. When the race restarted at lap 51, Patrick was scored in the 32nd position. The caution flag was displayed again one lap later, and with the threat of more rain looming in the distance, Knost called Patrick to pit road for a fuel-only stop in an effort to get the team to the halfway point on fuel. The pit call allowed the team to remain on track as the field cycled through green-flag stops. Patrick led laps 95 and 96 before pitting at lap 97 for four tires, fuel and air pressure, wedge and packer adjustments.

One down 

The green-flag stop left Patrick one lap down to the leader, but she was able to race her way up to the 25th position before the field started cycling through green-flag pit stops at lap 116. When the caution flag waved again at lap 124 for debris, Patrick was scored in the 16th position. With reports of rain in the area, Knost called for her to stay out and take the wave-around to put the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS back on the lead lap. 

Knost’s pit strategy yielded dividends as Patrick had enough fuel to continue until the caution flag waved again at lap 138 due to rain. NASCAR brought the field down pit road and red-flagged the event before eventually calling the race official. Patrick was credited with a 16th-place finish. 

“The car was completely sideways early in the race,” Patrick said. “Daniel and I were able to sit down during all of the rain delays and talk through the adjustments we needed to make to help the car handle better. Then he made the call to pit for fuel early in the race, and that put us in a position to stay out and take the wave-around there at the end and get a solid finish out of the day.” 

Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, led the four-car SHR contingent Sunday at Michigan by winning the rain-shortened Michigan 400.

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