Disappointing? Sure, but she did earn a top-10 finish in NASCAR’s biggest race, becoming the 13th driver to lead laps at the Indy and Daytona 500s.
Unlike 2005, when she struggled with everything that came after Indy, Patrick left Daytona at ease, ready to race at Phoenix and beyond.
“I kind of feel like it is another weekend now,” she said. “Last weekend was what it was. But we’re moving on and maybe in 2005 it was kind of a little bit of ongoing excitement level, and hope for me. I think I’m a little more mature now to know that these come, they go.”
Perhaps due to her lack of experience, Patrick was passed by five cars as the field turned toward the checkered flag, leaving her feeling like she let a chance get away in Florida.
Team owner Tony Stewart told Patrick after the race that there was nothing she could have done, that trying a big move might have made things worse. Race winner Jimmie Johnson told her something similar, echoing the sentiments of drivers across the circuit.
“I thought she handled herself well,” Jeff Gordon said. “She ran a good race.”