Danica Patrick held her own in her Darlington Raceway debut with a 12th-place finish in Friday night's NASCAR Nationwide Series race.
As Patrick rolled off 15th on the warm-up laps, her crew chief Tony Eury Jr. offered the sage advice, "Race the racetrack." Eury and spotter T.J. Majors were joined by another familiar voice offering tips throughout the evening -- Patrick's Sprint Cup owner and three-time champion Tony Stewart.
"I had a lot of voices in my head," Patrick joked after the race. "The ones that said, 'try harder, be braver, no, be smarter, be patient,' but overall it was a decent night."
Patrick maintained her position throughout the event as she acclimated to the nuances of the 1.366-mile egg-shaped oval.
Although she dropped to 17th as the car developed a push in the first 25 laps, with a chassis adjustment and fresh tires on the first pit stop on Lap 37, Patrick found a better feel in her car.
"You're doing a good job racing the track," Majors told Patrick.
"I had a technique that wouldn't slide the tires," Patrick said. "I'm keeping it underneath me."
"It's the most it's turned for me this weekend at the track."
Majors complimented Patrick's improved performance through Turns 3 and 4, "You were a lot better there."
Patrick, who restarted 17th on Lap 51, replied, "I had the momentum down the straightaway, so I used it."
After Lap 65, she said, "I need to be careful on the right rear."
"You'll be fine," Eury replied. "Just work on 1 and 2 down there; that's where you're getting beat."
The No. 7 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet pitted on Lap 93 during green-flag racing but dropped off the lead lap despite holding on to the 15th spot. Majors told Patrick her entry into the corners was improving, but by Lap 100, she had fallen to 16th. Two laps later, the driver appeared surprised that there were 45 laps remaining.