Friday, April 20, 2018
Sports

Danica has look of a contender: 7th

Danica Patrick added another May moment to cherish.

"Chicks rule, huh?" crew chief Tony Gibson playfully told her at Kansas.

She may not have totally ruled, but she put on a performance that recalled her better ones at the Indianapolis 500. Patrick showed that she can be a serious driver who can craft a complete weekend and contend for a top-five finish.

Jeff Gordon, the Sprint Cup points leader, took the lead with eight laps to go and held off pole-sitter Kevin Harvick, who led much of the race, to win Saturday night's 5-Hour Energy 400 at Kansas Speedway.

But Patrick was the surprise of Saturday night with her seventh-place finish, the best of her Cup career.

Stewart-Haas Racing boss and teammate Tony Stewart, Gibson, and her parents were among the throng of well-wishers in the garage that made it a celebratory scene straight out of her dazzling Daytona 500 to kick off 2013.

"I've always believed in myself and with the right situation, a good car, that I can do it," she said.

She easily had her best weekend of the season, spending most of the race inside the top 10, and brought a needed jolt of electricity in a race during which the lights went out on the backstretch, passing teammate Stewart and Dale Earnhardt Jr. to move into third with 95 laps left.

She also passed six-time champion Jimmie Johnson on a late restart, adding him to the collection of heavy hitters left in the rearview mirror.

"The most rewarding part of my night was probably when I drove around the outside of the No. 48 on a restart," he said. "That was probably my most rewarding thing of the night. I say that with all the respect in the world. It's a big deal because he is Jimmie Johnson."

Patrick hadn't finished better this season than 14th at Fontana and her lone top-10 in the Cup series was eighth in the 2013 Daytona 500. She won a pole at Kansas in IndyCar in 2005.

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