Patrick, racing a part-time schedule in NASCAR’s Nationwide Series this season for JR Motorsports, passed several cars in the closing laps of the ARCA season opener and got as high as fifth with three laps left. But she didn’t have enough to catch winner Bobby Gerhart.
Still, it was an impressive start for Patrick.
She spent much of the race among the top 10, but she bumped fenders with Nelson Piquet Jr. and spun through the infield grass on lap 54 costing her any hope of victory. She dropped to 17th, but worked her way through most of the field.
She has not yet decided if she will make her NASCAR debut next week in the Nationwide opener at Daytona, and her experience on Saturday was going to play a huge factor.
She had not made a decision after the race, but her car owners seemed pleased. Dale Earnhardt Jr. sprinted from the NASCAR drivers meeting to congratulate her, while Rick Hendrick was quick to praise her over the in-car radio.
“You drove the wheels off that thing, girl,” Hendrick told her. “We are proud of you.”
Patrick replied, “Thank you very much.”
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