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Danica Patrick admitted before her fourth career Nationwide Series race at Chicagoland Speedway that home games can be taxing. Raised less than two hours away in Roscoe, Ill., Patrick hosted more friends, family and guests than usual this weekend, some even from the just-over-the-border Canadian wing of the clan.
"You want to make time for them for making the effort to support you," she said. "In my situation, which is trying to create realistic expectations, low expectations for the people coming to the track, basically you are not going to see me until after the race.
"Something like that, so they don't get their hope up and think they are going to spend an hour hanging out with me knocking back beers before the race."
After finishing 12th Saturday, Patrick might have been in the mood to knock back a few, if for no other reason than to vent about the last 10 laps. And Brad Sweet likely would not have been invited.
An otherwise satisfactory-enough finish became a source of agitation in the waning laps as Patrick became enraged with the tactics of constant foil Sweet. Patrick was 12th and pursuing 11th-place Justin Allgaier when the lapped, 15th-place car of Sweet began pressing her.
She, on numerous occasions, requested spotter Tab Boyd to ask Sweet through his spotter for some consideration, since they weren't racing for position. But Sweet never relented, passing Patrick with 10 laps left and hunkering down in the line she had been using to catch up with Allgaier, prompting her to growl over team radio, "Find ... his ... spotter."
Patrick had fallen nearly five seconds behind Allgaier and just seven laps remained by the time she was able to pass Sweet again.
Patrick and Sweet have occupied the same space at the same time on several occasions this season, the most cataclysmic their collision late in the race at Dover and at Richmond a few weeks ago when Patrick accidentally drove up into him, sending her into the wall. She quickly admitted her mistake at Richmond.
Patrick's 26th race of her first full-time Nationwide season was statistically unremarkable, as she finished in the same position in which she started, running as high as 11th on Lap 44 of 200.
She battled a No. 7 Chevrolet that skewed loose and was borderline unmanageable for much of the race, according to her diagnosis on team radio. Patrick raced on the lead lap all except during one brief sequence on Lap 123, when leader Austin Dillon passed just before a caution. She was instantly allowed back onto the lead lap as the highest-scored lapped car, however.
Patrick remained 11th in the Nationwide driver points standings, 365 behind leader Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and 16 behind 10th-place Brian Scott.