Ricky Vs. Danica: Who's On Top After Atlanta?
So much of racing is about perspective.
On first blush, Sunday night's AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway was yet another race where Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finished ahead of his GF and rival NASCAR Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year contender Danica Patrick.
Ricky ended the race 16th and Danica 21st, the 21st time in 25 points races that Ricky has finished ahead of his heartthrob.
Advantage, Ricky, right?
Not so fast.
While it's true that Ricky had the better finish, Danica had the better race. Ricky started from the pole and fell like a rock through the field, never leading even a single lap. So on his night, he lost 15 positions from where he started, prompting his spotter, Mike Calinoff to Tweet, "Well, that sucked. Glad to get outta here."
Danica, on the other hand, finished exactly where she qualified and had her best result since running 20th at Watkins Glen three weeks ago. In fact, this was her sixth-best finish of the entire season, a small but tangible step forward.
"Obviously, you always want to do better than you finish, but it's like we've said all year, it's about making little gains and getting better as we go along," said Patrick.
So on this sweltering Sunday night at Hot 'Lanta, we're going to say Danica came out on top. Which means Ricky will be buying the steaks and Cabernet Sauvignon next weekend in Richmond.
Scoreboard after 25 races:
Ricky - 21st in points, 0 top fives or top 10s, best finish of 11th.
Danica - 27th in points, 0 top fives, 1 top 10, best finish of 8th.
Better race finish - Ricky 21-4 over Danica.