Danica Patrick retains pole for Daytona, finishes 17th in Qualifier

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Danica Patrick and crew chief Tony Gibson learned what they needed to learn, then played it safe and finished 17th in their Budweiser Duel qualifying race Thursday at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.

The Budweiser Duel consists of twin qualifying races that set the 43-car field for the season-opening Daytona 500, but Danica Patrick was already locked into the Great American Race. She will start from the pole for the 55th Daytona 500, as she set the fastest lap in qualifying last Sunday, which locked her into the No. 1 starting position.

Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), had nothing to gain in the Budweiser Duel other than experience and information. She got both, starting on the pole and staying up front for the first 10 laps of the 60-lap race around the 2.5-mile superspeedway. After learning how her car performed in the draft, she dropped to the rear of the field to avoid any potential accidents, ensuring that the same GoDaddy.com Chevrolet that set the quickest lap in time trials would start from the pole in the Daytona 500.

“It’s not an exciting mission when you’ve just got to bring it home,” Danica Patrick said. “But, it’s for the Daytona 500, so you’ve got to keep that in mind. I learned that the outside (lane) is strong and it carries a lot of good momentum. And then I learned that you need some friends. I also learned that you can’t be too tight because that outside (lane) is what’s good, but you can’t be too tight, which my car was. It was way too tight at the start. But we wanted to be conservative. We didn’t want to have any issues with the Go Daddy Chevrolet. We wanted to make sure we’ve got it on that front row for Sunday.”

Patrick battled an issue with the tachometer during her one pit stop of the day on lap 42. Drivers use the tachometer to determine their speed down pit road, where they must mind 55 mph speed limit. When Danica Patrick looked down at her dashboard, her tachometer was broken.

“Again, it’s not the most exciting way to race, but something was wrong with the tachometer,” Danica Patrick said. “I didn’t know what speed I was doing, so I just went really slow (down pit lane). I tried to hit the right revs and I realized there are no lights for those revs. So, I knew there was something wrong, and then when I got out there on the track, it showed I was going 10,000 rpm. I’m sure I’d love to have the kind of speed that comes with 10,000 rpm, but it wasn’t right. So, it’s good to get those little bugs out of the way. We’ll fix them and be solid for Sunday with the Go Daddy Chevrolet.”

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, a Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to MSNFox Sports Chicago Now, Walter Football.com, and Yardbarker

A Fulbright scholar, published author and MBA, Banks has appeared on live radio all over the world; he’s also a member of the Football Writers Association of America, U.S. Basketball Writers Association, and Society of Professional Journalists. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too.

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