Danica Patrick scored another good finish on her return to the NASCAR Nationwide Series at Chicagoland Speedway, claiming 10th in Saturday's race.
Patrick started the race from 16th on the grid having run in a similar position during Friday's practice sessions at a track she was visiting for the second time in a stock car, having already raced there last year.
The JR Motorsports driver spent most of the first half of the race in the top 15 and was able to get as high as 11th at one point, before dropping a few positions in the order and then a lap down during a long green-flag run. Her break came on lap 140 out of 200 when she was able to get back on the lead lap under the fourth caution of the race through the free-pass rule that allows the first driver a lap down to be waved around when the yellow flag comes out.
The closing stages of the race turned into a fuel-saving game at the front of the field, while many running behind elected to pit for a splash of gasoline to make sure they would make it to the checkered flag. Many of those gambling on staying on the track would eventually run out of fuel, including race winner and second-place finishers Justin Allgaier and Carl Edwards, who still managed to get across the line ahead even as they ran dry.
Patrick's strategy allowed a 10th-place finish as the first car a lap down. It was only her second top-10 finish in NASCAR and a result only bettered by a fourth place she claimed earlier this year at Las Vegas.
Next week Patrick will race again in the IZOD IndyCar Series at Texas and she will only return to the Nationwide Series in July at Daytona.