DOVER, Del. — Danica Patrick can boast a top-10 finish in NASCAR on her expanding resume.
Patrick finished sixth in the K&N Pro Series East race Friday at Dover International Speedway for her first career top-10 finish in NASCAR.
“I learned a lot. I’m pleased and thankful that the team put a car together to run in that race this weekend,” Patrick said. “I know that was a lot of work.”
Patrick is pulling double-duty for JR Motorsports this weekend and will race in Saturday’s Nationwide Series race. Patrick, an IndyCar Series driver, is running a limited NASCAR schedule this season.
This was her first race in the low-level NASCAR series.
“There was a heck of a lot of laps,” she said. “I learned about closing rates and I learned about how to set people up here, and I learned about just the timing of everything, which is really important with these cars.”
Patrick called her first NASCAR season a “humbling experience” before the race.
She has finished 35th, 31st, 36th, 30th, 24th and 27th in her Nationwide races. She has competed in one ARCA race.
Patrick has one career win in IndyCar. Patrick finished the 2009 IndyCar series a career-best fifth in points on the strength of five top-five finishes. She expected to contend for the championship this season, but has struggled and is 11th in the points standings with two top fives.
Patrick has one more IndyCar race left on Oct. 2 before finishing the season in NASCAR. There are no plans for her to drive in a Sprint Cup race this season.
“It was all a blur,” she said. “Mostly, it’s just been emotional because I’ve had to deal with not having the good results that I’d like. IndyCar has been a bit of a tough season. I’ve had probably some of my best races I’ve ever had, but I’ve also had a lot of mediocre ones.”
Patrick even briefly led Friday’s race, won by Brett Moffitt. Ryan Truex, younger brother of Cup regular Martin Truex Jr., was the series champion.
She gave credit to drivers who regularly compete in Nationwide and Sprint Cup races the same weekend.
“I don’t know how they do both series and keep their heads on straight,” she said.
Patrick is under contract to drive part time in the Nationwide Series through the end of 2011 and has two-plus years left on her IndyCar deal with Andretti Autosports.
Patrick said her immediate goal is a top-20 finish in the Nationwide Series.
Dover gave Patrick top billing in its promotion of the race. Her image was plastered on billboards on I-95 near Philadelphia and she is holding a Q&A for fans before the Nationwide race — “a great opportunity for fans to catch a glimpse of the female phenom,” the release said.
“A lot of those things are not in my control as far as what promotions are done with me,” she said. “I’m a good IndyCar driver coming over to NASCAR and racing some. I’m doing double-duty in a different way. I can’t control what the fans want to see or what they’re interested in or what they pay attention to. I can’t control that. I can just be myself. I’ve been lucky that people want to see me.”