Danica Patrick knows part of Daytona racing is ‘you’ve got to be lucky’

Danica Patrick obviously was pleased with her surprising fourth-place finish in last Saturday night’s Advance Auto Parts Clash exhibition race at Daytona International Speedway.

She’s also smart enough to know it might not translate to much for this Sunday’s 59th running of the Daytona 500 live on FOX at 2 p.m. ET.

“As far as a realistic situation for the Daytona 500, I know we only had 17 cars out there (for the Clash),” Patrick said Tuesday morning at Daytona 500 media day at Daytona International Speedway. “But it was also a good challenge because of so few cars to stay up in the mix. There were no slouches out there, that was for sure. It was an honor to be out there with so many great drivers, but my job is to mix it up with them and beat them.

“So it was good practice for me, because they’re all great at what they do. And so, it was a good day. And you know what? At Daytona and Talladega, the superspeedways, you’ve got to be a little lucky – and I definitely got lucky a couple of times.”

That included when she drove up to fourth at the end of the race in her No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford after leaders Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski wrecked each other on the final lap.

Then again, Patrick said she believes she has developed a pretty good feel about where to go when things start to look a little messy during restrictor-plate races at the 2.5-mile Daytona track. That might just help her both in Thursday’s Can-Am Duels and this Sunday in the 500 as well.

“It’s also somewhat of my nature to be perceptive, too,” Patrick said. “So there were a couple of times when things were looking a little bit crazy out there, and you’ve got to be ready for those moments so you have the best chance of missing them instead of just being up in them.”