Short track ace?

MARTINSVILLE, VA - MARCH 28: Danica Patrick, driver of the #10 GoDaddy.com - Get Found Chevrolet, sits in her car in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on March 28, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
MARTINSVILLE, VA - MARCH 28:  Danica Patrick, driver of the #10 GoDaddy.com - Get Found Chevrolet, sits in her car in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on March 28, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
MARTINSVILLE, VA – MARCH 28: Danica Patrick, driver of the #10 GoDaddy.com – Get Found Chevrolet, sits in her car in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on March 28, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

MARTINSVILLE, Va.—Restrictor-plate superspeedways aside, Martinsville is arguably Danica Patrick’s best race track.

In fact, the argument, if you can call it that, is short and sweet. Last spring at Martinsville, Patrick posted her best finish at a non-restritor-plate track, 12th.

On Friday at the .526-mile paper-clip-shaped short track, she posted a personal-best in non-restrictor plate qualifying: 10th. Patrick’s previous best “open-motor” qualifying effort was 21st at Atlanta and New Hampshire, both in 2013.

Patrick’s strong performance in time trials was unexpected, given that she had been 29th-fastest in opening practice.

“Just got to expect the unexpected, I guess,” Patrick said after the session in which she advanced to the final 12 in knockout qualifying for the first time. “I think that our practice started off a little bit rough, because you go out with all those cars on the track, I was following another car, and he was not coming up to speed and I ended up getting passed by 15 cars, it felt like, in the first five laps.

“You’re just not really getting up to speed and in a rhythm, so we didn’t really put a lap in at the beginning, and then, in our qualifying runs, I feel like we improved a lot, but we still needed something. That something [crew chief] Tony [Gibson] gave me for qualifying. That’s the difference — then just nailing that lap. I mean, that is qualifying. I just have to get better at it.”

About Greg Engle 7420 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for Examiner.com and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.