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Danica Patrick glad to reach goals in Darlington Cup race

Patrick glad to reach goals in Cup raceDanica Patrick said she accomplished the goals she set for her second NASCAR Sprint Cup outing, her first at Darlington, finishing 31st in Saturday night's 500-miler.

The Stewart-Haas driver had an uneventful race at one of NASCAR's toughest venues, having started the weekend 1.5 seconds off the pace in Friday's opening practice, where she also had a first brush with the wall.

However, she showed improved pace throughout the weekend despite a slow start to her race, soon falling a lap down as the event unusually ran caution-free for the first 171 laps.

On lap 282, when she was already three laps down, Patrick had her only incident of the day when she was penalised for a hitting the cone that marks the end of the commitment line at pit entry, dropping another three laps behind eventual winner Jimmie Johnson.

Despite her result, Patrick seemed satisfied to have crossed the finish line with her car in one piece, taking some valuable lessons out of her first Cup race at Darlington.

"I think I held my own alright," Patrick said. "And, the other one was to finish, and both of those things happened. So, overall, good night. I will be much less worried coming back to this place.

"My goals were to run respectable, at times even passing and having decent speed and to finish. We did both of those things, so I think overall it was a really successful weekend at a track that could have been a disaster.

"This is a step in the right direction. I can finally thank Tony [Stewart] for putting this one of the schedule."

Patrick will be back in a Cup car in two weeks' time to face the longest NASCAR race of the season at Charlotte.

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