Kyle Busch barely overtook Greg Biffle out of the final turn of a green-white-checker finish to win by .051 seconds in the NASCAR Nationwide race at California on Saturday, with Brad Keselowski right behind them.
It was a heartbreaking loss for Joey Logano, who led 130 laps and was up front when the final caution came out, but finished fifth.
Patrick was 31st, three laps off the pace. But unlike Daytona, where she got caught up in a 12-car crash just past the halfway point, she was racing at the finish on the slick two-mile superspeedway where she was originally scheduled to race for the first time. And she made progress during a trying 300 miles, though she wasn't involved in the exciting finish.
On the final restart, created after Brendan Gaughan spun out on lap 145 to bring out a caution, Biffle quickly pushed by Logano and Busch followed him. Busch then got around Biffle on the final turn and beat him for his 31st Nationwide victory.
Patrick started the day 36th and quickly dropped to the back of the field. She was passed by Logano only 17 laps into the race. Yet, it took another 43 laps before Logano lapped her again.
On her first two stops, Patrick was penalized for speeding on pit row. So was veteran driver Carl Edwards, who finished fourth.
After five laps Saturday, Patrick was 41st of the 41 cars still on the track after two had already parked for the day. Fifteen laps later, she was still last on the track (of 40 cars) and had already been passed by seven cars.
When the 57th lap ended, Patrick had moved to 35th ahead of four other cars on the track and her lap times were improving.
At the halfway point, she was up to 32nd, though two laps down.
Patrick repeatedly said this week that the difficult part for her is
not knowing for sure how things are supposed to feel in a stock car. It
was clear she was trying to figure that out and she accomplished what
she has to do — focus on running laps and gaining experience.
Patrick originally was supposed to make her NASCAR debut at
California, but went a week earlier than planned after finishing sixth
in an ARCA race at Daytona. She also will race next weekend at the 1
1/2-mile Las Vegas track before getting back in Indy cars for a stretch.