Danica Patrick took the highest time in Friday’s practice run ahead of the Coke Zero 400 after a wreck led some drivers to sit out.
Patrick topped 198 mph during the practice, leading Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick, Tony Stewart, and Kasey Kahne to round out the top five. A huge wreck at the beginning of the hour-long run involved 11 cars and shook up some of the drivers, who either opted out of the last practice before Sunday’s race or chose to do single-car runs.
Patrick has had a good season after being on the receiving end of some harsh criticism from fellow drivers, including veteran Richard Petty, who has spoken out more than once about Danica. Petty said last year that Patrick gets attention because she’s good at marketing herself, but at the end of the day, she’s not a race car driver.
“That’s where I have a problem. Where fans have bought into the hype of the marketing, to think she’s a race car driver. She can go fast, and I’ve seen her go fast. She drives the wheels off it when she goes fast…she’s not a race car driver. There’s a difference. The King always had that stupid saying, but it’s true, ‘Lots of drivers can drive fast, but very few drivers can race.’ Danica has been the perfect example of somebody who can qualify better than what she runs. She can go fast, but she can’t race,” Petty said.
Friday was the final practice before Sunday’s race, but Danica Patrick will join her fellow drivers on Saturday for qualifying.