DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (WISH) - Danica Patrick's first week as a full-time NASCAR driver has been a roller coaster ride. After crashing out on the final lap of her qualifying race on Thursday, she bounced back to win the pole for the Nationwide Series race on Friday. But Saturday, the Go Daddy driver was reminded yet again just how fickle Daytona can be.
"More than anything I'm frustrated because the Go Daddy car was so fast," Patrick said. "It was so fast."
Patrick was caught in a crash on lap 49 when JR Motorsports teammate Cole Whitt bumped her from behind and sent her spinning into the wall, eliminating her from contention.
"It's so frustrating when you have one of those kinds of cars and it's gone, because there are other days when you don't have that kind of a car and nobody seems to manage to find your bumper," Patrick said.
She was able to get back on the track after major repairs were made to her No. 7 Chevrolet. Patrick finished 38th in a chaotic race won by 21-year old James Buescher, who maneuvered his way through a multi-car crash on the final turn of the final lap.
"It's hard to describe the feeling when you make it through the wreck and you're the only guy - you don't see anybody in front of you when you're coming to the checkered flag," Buescher said. "It's pretty incredible and definitely will never forget it."
But for Patrick, there's no time to dwell on this finish, as her highly anticipated Sprint Cup debut awaits.
"Obviously we've got the Daytona 500 tomorrow, my first time. I can't dwell on today. I need to buckle down and focus on the things that I need to get ready for tomorrow for the big day, and hopefully we have a better day," said Patrick.
Previous Daytona 500 winner Ryan Newman knows all eyes will be on his teammate when the flag goes green on Sunday, but he knows she can handle it.
"I think a lot of people have a lot of respect for her because of what she's done. Not because she's a 'she' but because of what she's done in her career," Newman said. "To achieve the things she's done in the short period in the Nationwide [Series] and to come here to Daytona and have the guts in the first place to make her Sprint Cup debut in the Daytona 500 - that says a lot about her."
Patrick will start 29th on Sunday and will be driving her back-up car. Her team owner and defending Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart starts third, and will be looking for his first win in NASCAR's most prestigious race. The green flag flies at 1:29p.m.
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