Danica Patrick now at a crossroads, as fourth fiddle at SHR in 2014

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Stewart-Haas Racing’s newest driver for 2013 entered the NASCAR world as its media darling, its most discussed and highly scrutinized driver, and one of its most marketable stars.

A year later, and Danica Patrick will be reduced to a near afterthought in the SHR stable in 2014.

It’s been a fascinating evolution because for the first time in her career, she’s not the story, and that’s purely down to the results she and the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet team are or are not producing on the track.

Objectively speaking, she’s getting the right amount of attention now as the rest of her male counterparts who are consistently finishing races in the 25th to 30th place range on average – little at best.

That’s no knock on her. It was always going to be an uphill struggle in her first year and the results have been understandably difficult to procure in such a competitive field and with Patrick at a several-year disadvantage to her peers in this level of stock car racing. She has only five top-20 finishes in 24 starts this year, and six top-25 starts.

Patrick was brought into SHR as much as for her marketing ability as her driving ability, which is no secret to any casual or serious observer of the sport.

But for 2014, SHR has went out and acquired Kevin Harvick, a consistent champion-in-waiting who’s usually good for two or three wins a year and a Chase berth, and now, Kurt Busch, the 2004 champ who in his two years of “lower team purgatory” has outperformed his equipment and reminded everyone of his serious ability level.

Patrick’s name is rarely brought up on teleconferences, and there’s been a bunch of them in the last few weeks following Tony Stewart’s injuries. SHR competition director Greg Zipadelli and subsequent replacement drivers Max Papis, Austin Dillon and Mark Martin have been the focus, not Danica.

It seems that for the first time in her career, the Danica “brand” has not been able to overpower the Danica results. That will be even tougher next year; she’ll likely be able to improve in her second full year of Cup, but she’ll be measured against three of the best ever in her discipline. And that’s no easy task.

Kyle Larson wins Chili Bowl Night 2 over a field of champions

TeeJay Crawford
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Tuesday has traditionally been the start of racing at the Chili Bowl Nationals for the past 32 years, but with more than 300 cars entered in the 2019 edition, two drivers were already locked in from Monday’s action at the River Spirit Expo Center.

On Monday, Logan Seavey led flag to flag to win and lock into Saturday night’s finale. USAC Sprint car standout Brady Bacon finished second.

Tuesday night featured several drivers with a connection to NASCAR and it was Kyle Larson who took top honors over Zach Daum in the 25-lap A Main.

Tuesday was also a night filled with dirt car championships. Daum is a three-time POWRi National Midget Champion. Former ASCS Sprint car champion Sam Hafertepe Jr. also finished in the top five. The 2018 USAC Sprint Car champion Tyler Courtney finished sixth.

Daum led the field to green after racing from sixth to second in his qualifier. That made him the High Point Man for the evening. Daum kept Larson at bay for five laps before the NASCAR star hooked the highside and grabbed the lead going down the backstretch on Lap 6. Larson maintained his advantage during the final 20 laps – surviving two restarts in the process.

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This was Larson’s fifth preliminary night win in the Chili Bowl. Larson joins Seavey as two drivers locked into Saturday’s show.

Jonathan Beason took the final spot on the podium after starting 10th with Michael Faccinto and Hafertepe rounding out the top five.

“That might be the second time I got Zach in a prelim night,” said Larson at ChiliBowl.com. “They worked the track before the feature so as the leader you just run the bottom until you hear somebody or see somebody. I was just able to get around him….It was just nice to get to the lead there and run a good pace, but I was hoping I would get a caution before I got close to traffic.”

Alex Bowman finished ninth with Tanner Berryhill 10th

Tuesday also featured the invitation only Vacuworx Invitational Race of Champion that included any Chili Bowl winning driver or driver that raced for a past Chili Bowl winning team. Past winners included Christopher Bell, Rico Abreu, Sammy Swindell, Tim McCreadie, John Heydenreich, and Damion Gardner.

Tanner Thorson passed Bernal on the start and led every lap to claim his second ROC victory, crossing under the checkers 1.710 ahead of the rest of the field.

Larson and Bell slipped around Bernal to stand on the podium. NASCAR driver JJ Yeley rounded out the top five.

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Tuesday’s Results

1. Kyle Larson
2. Zach Daum
3. Jonathan Beason
4. Michael Faccinto
5. Sam Hafertepe Jr.
6. Tyler Courtney
7. Dillon Welch
8. Jesse Colwell
9. Alex Bowman
10. Tanner Berryhill
11. Andrew Layser
12. Adam Pierson
13. Brody Roa
14. Tim Buckwalter
15. Kyle Jones
16. Blake Edwards
17. Tony Bruce Jr.
18. Frank Flud
19. Derek Hagar
20. Alex DeCamp
21. Brian Shirley
22. Tye Mihocko
23. Larry Wight
24. Jake Bubak