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Danica Patrick earns first top-10 finish in two years in Dover Cup race

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After a frustrating start to her 2017 season, something finally went right for Danica Patrick on Sunday at Dover International Speedway.

Thanks to pit strategy and late cautions, Patrick placed 10th for her first top-10 finish in more than two years. The last time her No. 10 Ford was in the top quarter of the field was an eighth in the April 2015 race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

“A good day for us,” Patrick said of her fourth lead-lap finish this season. “We got a bit lucky with staying out at the right time and catching the yellow flags. It’s the stuff that hasn’t been happening for us all year, and it’s just nice to catch some breaks today.”

Entering Sunday’s race, Patrick’s best result in the first 12 events was 17th at Atlanta. She’d been plagued by five DNFs, which are more than she earned in each of the previous three seasons.

“We weren’t the fastest car today, not sure we were a top-10 car,” Patrick said. “A lot of times we have been a 10th-place car and weren’t able to get the finish we needed. I’ll take the lucky days anytime I can because there has been plenty of times where it went the other way.”

Patrick started 31st, and her average running spot during the 406-lap event was 22.2. She was responsible for a caution when she spun on Lap 146. Her No. 10 Ford wasn’t damaged in the accident.

Patrick took the wavearound on Lap 197 to get back on the lead lap.

On Lap 331, Patrick and seven drivers pitted after staying out just long enough during a green flag pit sequence before Regan Smith wrecked. It was the same pit sequence in which Ty Dillon took the lead.

“We put scuffs on two or three times on pit stops,” Patrick said. “It was an issue, but we saw that all weekend, a lot of yellows. We survived and caught the right breaks when we did. I’ll take it.”

Patrick now has seven top 10s in her Cup career. Her previous best result at the Monster Mile in 10 starts was 13th in this race last year.

Patrick and her Stewart-Haas Racing team now head to Pocono Raceway ranked 30th in the points standings.

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NASCAR America: Navigating Sonoma means plenty of twists and turns

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You turn left and turn right, what’s the big deal, right?

Actually, wrong.

Sonoma Raceway is an extremely technical racetrack full of winding turns both to the left and right.

On Thursday’s NASCAR America, Parker Kligerman took to the iRacing Simulator to show what drivers might expect on the nearly two-mile roadcourse north of San Francisco this weekend.

NASCAR America: Which NASCAR driver is ready for zombie apocalypse?

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Now there’s something you don’t hear NASCAR drivers talk about every day: how to prepare — and potentially survive — a zombie apocalypse.

Our intrepid reporter, Rutledge Wood, threw a number of NASCAR drivers for a loop when he asked them that very question.

The reactions range from incredulousness to seriousness.  Among those Rut talked with included Martin Truex Jr., Elliott Sadler, Matt Kenseth, Ryan Blaney, Clint Bowyer, Erik Jones and Kyle Larson.

And here’s a few surprises:

  • Brad Keselowski wants to buy a tank for the apocalypse, and supposedly Dale Earnhardt Jr. is waiting to take delivery on his own tank — both to kill zombies, of course!
  • Several drivers also talked about one of their former own who reportedly has already made big plans to take on any zombies that come across his path. As Wood said, that former driver’s name rhymes with Schmarl Schmedwards.

Check out the hysterical video — trust us, it WILL make you laugh — if for nothing else the outlandish responses from some of the drivers.

But it also makes one wonder: what if a zombie is among us and he’s disguised as a zombie? What then — and who might it be?

NASCAR America: John Hunter Nemechek looks to overcome small team, funding

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The good news for John Hunter Nemechek was with his win last weekend at Gateway, he and Nemco Motorports qualified for this season’s Camping World Truck Series playoffs.

But there is potential bad news, as well: because of having one of the smallest teams in the truck series and limited funding, Nemechek and his team are going to need more financial help, lest they potentially can’t afford to race for the championship in the playoffs.

Nemechek talked about that with NASCAR America on Thursday’s show. See the above video.

NASCAR America: Papis teaching next generation of NASCAR champions

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Even though much of his racing career was spent in open-wheel competition, it may surprise some to know Como, Italy native Max Papis has a combined 95 career starts in NASCAR across its three racing series: Cup, Xfinity and Trucks.

Papis’ versatility has proven invaluable in mentoring a number of young drivers with the potential of some day becoming NASCAR champions, including current student William Byron.

Papis spent Thursday on NASCAR America talking about what makes a good young driver and how he enjoys his role as a mentor and teacher.