Danica Patrick sputters at Chicagoland


JOLIET, Ill. -- After finishing 15th or worse in four of the five recent Izod IndyCar Series road races, Danica Patrick hoped returning to oval tracks would kick-start her open-wheel campaign with Andretti Autosport.

But her hopes went unfulfilled at Chicagoland Speedway.

The GoDaddy.com team vaulted Danica from 11th place to sixth during yellow-flag pit stops with 28 laps to go, using the same fuel-only strategy gambit that Chip Ganassi Racing used to put Dario Franchitti into the lead.

But while Franchitti went on to win the Peak Motor Oil and Antifreeze 300, Patrick dropped through the field to a 14th-place finish.

It was another frustrating weekend for the popular female racer, this one coming just 125 miles from her hometown of Roscoe, Ill.

"I'm really disappointed with the race result," she said after the race. "The GoDaddy car was handling well all night; I just didn't have enough speed to stay with the lead pack.

"It's tough to end the event like this because we were really competitive and I thought we'd have more out there tonight."

Patrick was fifth fastest in the only practice session prior to qualifications as all four Andretti entries showed improved performance and recorded speeds in the top seven. She qualified 12th, then ran third quickest in the final practice.

In the race, Patrick said her car had excessive understeer as she dropped to 23rd place in the early laps. She generally ran near the top 10 prior to the failed gas-and-go that briefly gave her legion of home state fans visions of a top-5 finish.

Speaking before the race, Patrick admitted that she and her team were "missing on something" on road courses.

"We just haven't been there," she said.

She expressed pleasure at closing out the IndyCar season with four oval events.

"My engineer Eddie [Jones] and I have been working very hard, and I think we have some good stuff going for the mile-and-a-halfs -- and that's all we've got for the rest of the season," Patrick said.

"The ovals put on a great show. A lot of action, a lot of passing, and that's what the fans want to see, I think."

John Oreovicz covers open-wheel racing for ESPN.com.