02/24/2013 08:16 pm ET Updated Feb 24, 2013

Danica Patrick Finishes 8th in Daytona: Good Start, But She Still Has a Lot to Prove

The 55th Daytona 500 is in the history books, and Jimmie Johnson has won his second Daytona 500. The story of all of Speedweeks, Danica Patrick led five laps and finished eighth, the highest finish by a woman in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

In my post about a week ago, I said that Patrick needed to put her money where her mouth is. Patrick really showed what she is made of today. She only led five laps, but she ran in the lead draft the entire day and was in contention for the win on the last lap until she got freight trained back to 8th on the final 1/3 lap. In retrospect, she should have moved in front of Dale Earnhardt, Jr. when he got a push from Mark Martin and had him push her and she could have pulled off a big upset if he could have pushed her.

Part of what it takes to win is being in position at the end of the race, and Danica was there without any fuel strategy or lucky caution to put her there. That is a plus for her. The one Achilles Heel that she had today was her pit selection. She had pit stall number one at the far end of pit road which under yellow was good because she could drive straight out and not have to race anybody off of pit road, but under green, she did not have the momentum under green to help her get going. Also, the overall performance of the new Gen-6 Sprint Cup car made it difficult for anybody to pass, so that added another handicap.

As well as she ran today, it was still a restrictor plate race which any way you look at it is a crapshoot and is a contrast from any other tracks NASCAR runs at. Just because she ran well here is no guarantee that she will run well next week in Phoenix.

I re-emphasize, we will have to wait and see how she does. We won't know until it happens.