CONCORD, N.C. -- Danica Patrick got her best Nationwide Series finish Friday night, 21st, but wasn't happy about it.
"I feel like all the times that we have the opportunity to have a real result, something in the top 10 or 15, we have an accident," she said after completing all 200 laps of the Dollar General 300, won by Brad Keselowski. "And every time we have an average sort of night, we seem to come home with a finish.
"That's disappointing, because I feel like we're better than this, and I feel like I've had better weekends than finishing 21st or 24th [her previous best in Nationwide, at Joliet, Ill., in July]."
She'd been running well in practice sessions, when "I could keep up with Carl [Edwards] and Kevin [Harvick], and I was pleased with that."
She started the race 17th, but an overheating problem quickly dampened engine performance.
"We were running really, really hot in the first run," she said. "We had to take tape off [the grille]. And then we took too much off, and the Hendrick engine guy was saying it wasn't even running at optimum.
"That doesn't help, taking tape off. It takes downforce off the car and takes the front nose off it."
But all in all, "I managed what I had," she said of the consistent run.
"I've definitely had worse outings on the first time at a track," she said. "So I'll take this and we'll learn from it and we'll be ready the next time we come to Charlotte."
Ed Hinton is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.