Danica Patrick limps to 16th at Sonoma

SONOMA, Calif. -- At a prerace meet-and-greet with fans before the start of the IndyCar Grand Prix of Sonoma at Infineon Raceway, Danica Patrick tried to make light of the fact that she would start 23rd on the 25-car grid at one of the toughest road courses for passing in the IndyCar Series.

"We're obviously going to have to do something radical with the pit strategy," she told several hundred onlookers.

Joking, she added: "If you see me make a pit stop real early, throw something on the track to cause a yellow to help me out."

Patrick made the early stop she alluded to, pitting barely a dozen laps into the 75-lap contest. But she didn't get the full-course caution she was hoping for until Lap 33, rendering the early pit strategy ineffective.

Danica looked set to finish 11th, but with two laps to go, she was the victim of an unsuccessful overtaking move by rookie Takuma Sato.
Driving the final tours with bent suspension and a broken front wing on the Andretti Autosport car after the contact initiated by Sato, Patrick finished 16th.

"That was a frustrating way to end a tough weekend for the GoDaddy car," she said. "I had a solid car throughout the race and really thought that I was going to finish in the top 10, but I got caught up with Sato at the end.

"It's hard when you have a good race but the result doesn't show."

Patrick finished 15th in IndyCar's inaugural road racing championship. Halfway through the eight-race oval racing portion of the schedule, she ranks sixth in those standings, and she is 11th in the overall IndyCar Series championship chase.

John Oreovicz covers open-wheel racing for ESPN.com.