Ricky Carmichael and David Starr get together to touch off a big wreck that brings out the red flag.
Ricky Carmichael spins out of Turn 4 and collects Johanna Long.
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Patrick optimistic, believes team can string together top-15s MORE: Danica pours out her purse for Us Weekly RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today For one of NASCAR's highest-profile drivers who is much more accustomed to making headlines and shining in the spotlight, Danica Patrick 's sophomore year in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series has been relatively quiet and workmanlike. At times encouraging, at times frustrating. Consistently inconsistent. Yet Patrick remains enthusiastic and optimistic -- partly because her Stewart-Haas Racing team has proven to be among the best in the garage and partly because she is absolutely certain her stock car education has greatly advanced. Even if the scoring pylon doesn't always reflect the effort. "In general we've been running so much better, qualifying better, running better and just generally being much faster than last year … and I'd say in general, not having the results to show for it,'' Patrick said. "I feel like it's been a much better year, but in terms of getting the most points as possible, we haven't really done that. "We've had a lot of mechanical issues and it seems to happen when we're running well. There've been mistakes, whether it be while running on track or making calls or sometimes the pit stops are slow. I think if we can fire on all cylinders and not make mistakes and have clean weekends, I feel like we're a real solid top-15 car." Patrick spoke to NASCAR.com between practice sessions at Watkins Glen International , a day that started out with a blown engine in the opening practice and would culminate with a crash during the afternoon session due to a mechanical issue (shock failure) -- an extreme example of the rough luck her No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet has suffered this year. But at 32, Patrick is experienced enough to know the hard knocks are inevitable, if tough to swallow -- especially when you are under the microscope as she so often is. Her transition to stock cars from IndyCar has naturally come with great interest and great scrutiny. But this is a no-excuses, highly driven racer who nearly won the Indianapolis 500 as a rookie in 2005, and earned worldwide accolades again in NASCAR when she won the Daytona 500 Coors Light Pole Award as a rookie in 2013 -- the first woman in the sport's history to do so. Patrick, however, is not the kind of person to rest on past accomplishment and has methodically worked toward a realistic set of goals: top-20s as a rookie, top-15s this season. But the patient approach aside, Patrick is at heart a competitor and says it's "go time." "I think you get more frustrated for sure, because you're waiting for it to turn and if it hasn't, you're getting frustrated that things aren't going your way," Patrick said. "But the positive side is that the hope is there and the speed is there when everything meets in the middle. "I think the team (has) … great drivers, so more help. I feel like I'm learning for that reason. It doesn't feel like I'm treated any different from the outside, but I really always thought people were relatively fair from the beginning anyway. Yes, people are watching a lot and everybody has opinions for sure, but I expect that I suppose." And Patrick has given them reason to believe in her. She led laps at both Daytona and Talladega. And with a third of the season still to go, Patrick has two top-10s -- twice that of last year. Her eighth-place finish in July's Coke Zero 400 equaled her career best finish at Daytona International Speedway. Her seventh-place at Kansas in May is what she considers her best race weekend from roll-out to load-up. "I think the cars themselves have been just better when they arrive at the track from beginning of the year but especially since the middle of the year,'' Patrick explained. "That's what happened at Kansas, that was the first full new car we got and I finished seventh and we had great night, great weekend. That was the start of those better cars and we've been running and qualifying much better since then. "From the end of last year, we learned that working more methodically through the weekend versus making huge and many changes throughout the practices has also helped us make what we have the best it can be. "That's a challenge in and of itself. I don't think you're going to move mountains with a spring change, so what you've got to do is maximize what you've got … it's more about just optimizing the car itself." Outside the car, Patrick says she couldn't be happier. That's evident to her NASCAR-best million-plus Twitter followers who regularly see photos of her life with boyfriend -- fellow Sprint Cup driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. -- and their puppy, Dallas. She won the Food Network reality competition show "Chopped" one year ago and earned USA Today's "Best Dressed" award as a presenter at the recent ESPY Awards. Beyond that, Patrick says she is also still committed to working on her fledging golf game, something introduced to her by Stenhouse. "I feel like golf might be a little bit like racing where you spend a lot of the time mad and frustrated and say, 'I love it, let's do it again,'" Patrick said with a laugh. "I'd like to see the results come through for the speed of the car and for me. It would be nice to qualify well and run well, to have good pit stops, good restarts and just a solid string of top-15 finishes. "And I believe we can." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news WATCH: Latest NASCAR video PLAY: NASCAR Fantasy Live FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Four spots in the Chase Grid remain heading into the 25th race of the season RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today All 12 race winners in 2014 have clinched a spot in the top 30 in driver points and a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, provided they attempt to qualify for the final two races of the regular season. Those drivers, in current Chase Grid order, include: Jeff Gordon , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Brad Keselowski , Joey Logano , Jimmie Johnson , Kevin Harvick , Carl Edwards , Kyle Busch , Denny Hamlin , AJ Allmendinger , Kurt Busch and Aric Almirola . If a winless driver is victorious this weekend, and is 49 or more points ahead of 31st place, he or she will also clinch a spot. If there is a repeat winner, the top 3 winless drivers would clinch if they are at least 45 points ahead of the fourth highest winless driver after the Oral-B USA 500 (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC). Matt Kenseth , Ryan Newman , Clint Bowyer and Greg Biffle are in the provisional grid for now and on the bubble. The first four on the outside looking in include: Kyle Larson, Kasey Kahne , Austin Dillon and Paul Menard . Kahne is a two-time winner at Atlanta (2006, '09). Kenseth controls his own destiny; he needs 32 points Sunday to claim a spot in the Chase. See the full rundown below. 2014 Chase Grid Outlook Pos. Drivers Wins Points Chase Bonus Pts 1 Jeff Gordon 3 845 9 2 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 3 818 9 3 Brad Keselowski 3 776 9 4 Joey Logano 3 761 9 5 Jimmie Johnson 3 726 9 6 Kevin Harvick 2 721 6 7 Carl Edwards 2 716 6 8 Kyle Busch 1 629 3 9 Denny Hamlin 1 594 3 10 AJ Allmendinger 1 586 3 11 Kurt Busch 1 582 3 12 Aric Almirola 1 559 3 13 Matt Kenseth 0 751 0 14 Ryan Newman 0 710 0 15 Clint Bowyer 0 699 0 16 Greg Biffle 0 694 0 Outside Looking In 17 Kyle Larson 0 668 0 18 Kasey Kahne 0 661 0 19 Austin Dillon 0 654 0 20 Paul Menard 0 649 0 21 Jamie McMurray 0 634 0 22 Marcos Ambrose 0 626 0 23 Brian Vickers 0 621 0 24 Casey Mears 0 561 0 25 Martin Truex Jr. 0 540 0 26 Tony Stewart 0 537 0 27 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 0 514 0 28 Danica Patrick 0 462 0 29 Justin Allgaier 0 425 0 30 David Gilliland 0 376 0 Green = Locked into the Chase, provided they attempt to qualify for the remaining four races Orange = No wins, Inside the current Chase Grid's top 16 - Currently in the Chase, not locked in Red = Inside the current top 30 in points, outside of the Chase cutoff MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news WATCH: Latest NASCAR video PLAY: NASCAR Fantasy Live FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
Joey Logano gets turned early, Ricky Carmichael pounds the wall after a cut tire and Eric McClure gets turned into the fence after a push goes awry.
Turner Motorsports announced Wednesday that veteran crew chief Jimmy Elledge has joined the team to lead the efforts of the No. 31 Chevrolet driven by Justin Allgaier. Bringing with him years of experience, Elledge has been a part of several championship-winning organizations and has worked with an impressive mix of veteran and rookie drivers including Turner Motorsports driver, Reed Sorenson, as well as Juan Montoya, Casey Mears, A.J. Allmendinger, Bobby Hamilton and Dale Jarrett. He has one Cup Series win to his credit, leading Hamilton to his final victory at Talladega in 2001. Most recently, Elledge was the crew chief for the No. 83 Red Bull Racing Toyota driven by six drivers including Sorenson, Kasey Kahne and Brian Vickers. Turner Motorsports is in the midst of its inaugural full season of NASCAR competition. Owned by Texas-native Steve Turner, the racing organization is expanding in 2011 from a two-truck operation in the Camping World Truck Series to become the largest stand-alone multi-series team in NASCAR's top-tier touring series. Turner Motorsports operates out of an 110,000 square-foot state-of-the art facility in Mooresville, N.C., and will house three entries in both the Nationwide Series and the Truck Series. The team boasts a driver line-up that includes Allgaier, Kahne, Sorenson, Jason Leffler, Ricky Carmichael , James Buescher and Brad Sweet.
Matthew Dillner explores the Sprint Cup Series garage in Atlanta and talks to Joey Logano, Carl Edwards and others as they prepare for some night racing.