With racing's best clawing for a spot in the Contender Round, Danica Patrick charged to the lead late at Talladega and -- though she fell back -- earned trust and respect in the process.
By leading six of the first 12 laps, Danica Patrick became the first woman to pace the field at Talladega. Her 22nd-place finish also was the best for a woman.
Danica Patrick has shown an affinity for restrictor-plate races -- remember Daytona? -- and in the last one of the season was in good position again until a disastrous final pit stop.
On a superspeedway for the first time since Daytona, the results were decidedly different for Danica Patrick: two races, two crashes, two opportunities spoiled.
In a race in which Danica Patrick led for a lap, she couldn't find a drafting partner at the end. An incident with Sam Hornish Jr. on the cool-down lap marred a strong effort.