What looked to be a promising day for the GoDaddy team turned in to a premature trip to the garage and eventually, the top of the hauler for a sad ride back to North Carolina.
As the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series took to the Tricky Triangle known as Pocono Raceway for the second time this season, the No.10 GoDaddy.com team comprised of Rookie Driver Danica Patrick and Crew Chief Tony Gibson were optimistic about their chances at a top-20 finish. Everything seemed to be going pretty smoothly, until everything came crashing down, literally.
Patrick was 18th and continuing to improve her position when she was involved in the multi-car accident just 50 laps shy of the finish. Travis Kvapil was on the outside of Patrick as they drove into turn two and while the two cars didn’t touch, it appeared the close racing between the two cars resulted in the air being taken off of the No. 10 Chevy, causing it to spin up the racetrack. The incident collected Patrick, Kvapil and a third driver, Jeff Burton that resulted in heavy damage to all three cars.
Patrick was running as high as fourth throughout the race thanks to various pit strategies throughout the field. With a great handling racecar, Patrick’s demeanor on the radio during the race was optimistic and energetic.
“We had freed the GoDaddy car up just a little bit, but not drastically, just a little bit because we were tight,” she said in a press release after the race. “I don’t know if that was enough to just tip it over the edge from where it was. It’s never as much rear grip when someone is outside of you. I feel bad for the team because we were having a good day, and I know it’s nice to finish those days off and it would have been nice to finish in the top 20. That is just my goal.”
“It’s simple,” she continues, “it’s nothing crazy, but it’s been a challenge this year. It would have been nice to do that, and we were just having a steady race and a good race, and (then) it’s over. We were way better than we were last time. We were competitive, and we were making good calls in the pits. Everything was going; it just happens.”
As the team shakes off a disappointing run at Pocono, they also have something else on their minds. Team Owner and teammate Tony Stewart will no longer be behind the wheel of his No.14 Chevy after a Sprint Car accident in Iowa on Monday Night left him with a severely broken right leg that will require multiple surgeries. Max Papis will be piloting the car this weekend.
“I’m obviously thinking about him and hope he gets better very soon,” Patrick said in regards to the news about Tony Stewart. “It’s hard to hear that news no matter who it is, but when it’s your teammate and friend, it’s obviously tougher. He’s been a huge help throughout my rookie year in Sprint Cup and it’s going to be strange not seeing him drive at Watkins Glen. We’re all just wishing a speedy recovery for him and we know, when he comes back, he’ll be as good as ever.”
And what are Patrick’s thoughts on having Max Papis for a teammate this weekend?
“Max is a great guy and a great road racer. It’ll be fun to have him as a teammate this weekend,” she exclaimed! “I wish it were under different circumstances, but it will be nice to work with him. We tested together last week at Road Atlanta and he was really good to work with. I’ve known him for a few years and I’m sure he’s excited for this opportunity.”
Although the team has Stewart on their minds, they are focused on the next race, a road course race. Watkins Glen will host the next round in Sprint Cup competition this weekend.
For Patrick, Watkins Glen is one of the few tracks where her previous experience may come in handy. With seven previous starts at The Glen, Patrick is more than familiar with the track. Unfortunately, the circuit used for IndyCar is quite a bit longer than the one the NASCAR Series will use this weekend.
One of Patrick’s previous starts at The Glen came in a stock car last season in the Nationwide Series although, she didn’t learn much from that experience. Patrick was caught in an unfortunate wreck on lap 1 of the race last season after Ryan Truex spun through the grass and came back on track in front of Patrick’s car, leaving her with no where to go.
Patrick’s luck at road courses hasn’t been good since coming into NASCAR but she hopes to change that this weekend. The team tested at Road Atlanta just a few weeks ago and the results of the test have left the team and their driver optimistic about this weekend.
“The GoDaddy car felt really good when we went and tested,” she said, referring to their test at Road Atlanta. “It is about as good as it’s unloaded off the truck at any point this year, anywhere we’ve gone.If you had asked me when I was at Sonoma or anywhere around then, I would have said I don’t feel very good. But our test at Road Atlanta was very good and, in general, I feel very comfortable on road courses. So, it will be nice because the road courses are a real opportunity for me to get the GoDaddy car further up where some of these tracks are a little bit more challenging for me.”
Make sure you tune in this weekend to see Patrick and the rest of your favorite drivers do something they aren’t all too familiar with: turning right. Who will come out on top at The Glen, well, we will have to wait and see.