Patrick leads female competitors in ARCA season-opener

2009 Mooresville Dec JR Motorsports Danica Patrick with black sign horizontal A record-setting six women competed in the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200, the ARCA season-opener at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday, but the driver with the least experience in stock cars had the highest finish.

IndyCar racer Danica Patrick finished sixth in her stockcar debut, driving the No. 7 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports in the 80-lap, crash-filled race. Patrick was running in the top 11 when she and former Formula One driver Nelsen Piquet Jr. made contact on lap 54, spinning Patrick across the infield grass and back onto the track. Patrick saved the car using a "no-hands" maneuver, made a pair of pit stops and restarted the race in 24th. She worked her way up to fifth place, passing off cars and bump drafting with others, before finishing in the sixth spot.

Jennifer Jo Cobb, competing for Bowsher-Mooi Motorsports, finished 17th. Cobb has more than 18 years of racing experience. She has three top 10s in nine ARCA starts. As an owner/driver, Cobb will attempt to run a full schedule in the Camping World Truck Series in 2010 and plans to contend for Rookie of the Year.

Venturini Motorsports driver Alli Owens ran as high as third for most of the race before mechanical problems and a crash in the closing laps contributed to a 23rd-place finish. The up-and-coming driver has two top-10 and seven top-20 place finishes in 22 ARCA starts.

In addition to Patrick, three female racers made their ARCA debut in Saturday's race. Jill George, racing in a car fielded by NASCAR veteran James Hylton, hit the wall hard on lap 25, leading to a nearly 22-minute red flag as workers repaired the fencing and wall. George was credited with a 21st-place finish.

Leilani Munter and Milka Duno were eliminated from race contention when they were caught up in a 10-car wreck on lap 7.

Munter has run in IndyCar's developmental series and has tested previously for ARCA. She was credited with 39th place in a ride fielded by Mark Gibson Racing.

Duno has raced in IndyCar and is the highest-finishing woman to have competed in the Rolex 24 at Daytona. She was driving for Braun Racing in Saturday's race and finished 43rd.
Patrick leads female competitors in ARCA season-opener Patrick leads female competitors in ARCA season-opener Reviewed by Rebecca Kivak on Monday, February 08, 2010 Rating: 5