600 grueling miles and over 5 hours of racing left the GoDaddy superstar with a disappointing 29th place finish.
The Coca-Cola 600 runs on Memorial Day weekend and on a day where Danica Patrick used to find herself amongst the Indy 500 festivities, she now finds herself sitting back and watching, for the second year in a row.
Last season marked Patrick’s first season away from the IndyCar Series and her first time missing the race that made her a household name in 2005. This year, it was no different. Although Patrick has said she would love to return to the Indy 500 and pull the “double,” her focus right now is entirely on her NASCAR career.
Sunday was Patrick’s second attempt at NASCAR’s longest race, the Coke 600. Last season, she started 40th and finished 30th. This season, she hoped to improve immensely on that result. After a 24th place qualifying effort left her both pleased and starting ahead of her boss Tony Stewart, the GoDaddy team was optimistic, until it happened.
During practice, Crew Chief Tony Gibson broke the news that there was an oil leak in the engine and they would have to change it which in turn put Patrick at the back of the field for Sunday’s race. Fighting her way up front with a great racecar out together by her team, Patrick was well on her way to her first top-20 finish on a mile and a half track this season.
Things were looking promising, until lap 319. Shortly after a restart, Patrick was in the middle of a three-wide battle when she made contact with Ricky Stenhouse Jr and reigning Sprint Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski. Stenhouse moved up the track at the same time Keselowski came down on Patrick, which sent her nose first into the turn three outside retaining wall and into Keselowski’s No. 2 Ford and ultimately led to extensive damage to her racecar.
With heavy damage to the right front of her racecar, Patrick made multiple trips down pit road for major repairs. The wreck took her out of 21st place and she ended the day 15 laps down in 29th.
“We obviously started from the back, and track position was really important here at Charlotte,” said Patrick in a press release. “We fought our way back to trying to be in a position to be on the lead lap. I felt like we were making real progress and starting to get the car to a place that was really good and had an accident, which is unfortunate because we were moving up. But there’s nothing we can do about it now. We just need some luck.”
Her Crew Chief Tony Gibson agrees. “Our car was really strong all day – probably one of the best cars we had had since Kansas. Pit stops were good. Danica did an awesome job. All we could do was get the car fixed and try to finish the race and go on. We will build on the high stuff from tonight. We had a good car. We’re showing some strength. We’re making our stuff better during the race, and that’s what we’ve got to do.
This weekend, the team moves on to the Monster Mile that is called Dover International Speedway. Patrick made one of her 10 Sprint Cup Series starts here last season, starting 38th and finishing 28th. She has also made three Nationwide Series starts and also a bit of history at Dover. In September 2010, Patrick started 13th and finished 6th in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at Dover leading three laps and becoming the first female in the series to do so.
Stewart-Haas Racing was involved in a teat at Dover earlier in the month which allowed Patrick to get in some precious laps that will help her in this weekend’s race.
Dover is fun. It’s fast and it can make for a really long day of racing,” she said in a press release. “I think that’s part of the appeal of it – how demanding it can be. We definitely want to stay out of trouble, which is easier said than done at these types of tracks.”
Throughout the summer stretch, Patrick will encounter a majority of tracks that she has yet to visit in a Cup car, including the eluding road courses. As the summer months hit in full force, Patrick will be ready with her notebook and pen, absorbing information like she does best.
Listening to Patrick’s radio through the duration of the Coke 600, there is one thing that sticks out in my mind that Gibson said to her after the wreck that I think we can all apply to some aspect of our lives, racing or not, and it goes like this:
“I told Danica that one day we’ll be the windshield and not the bug. We’re making progress. We’re making gains. We just have to be ready for when it’s our turn, and we will be.
The fans spoke loud and clear according to Miss Sprint Cup last Saturday and voted Rookie Danica Patrick into the Sprint All-Star Race.
Patrick attempted to race her way in to the Sprint All-Star Race via the Sprint Showdown but came up short when she finished 9th to race winner Jamie McMurray and runner up Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Although the fan vote winner wasn’t announced until the very end of drivers’ introductions, it was clear Patrick was the winner, and that left many very unhappy.
When Patrick’s name was called and she and her pit crew came up on stage, there was an audible mix of both cheering and boos, enough so to garner quite a few responses from members of the media. The cheers were definitely louder than the boos but they were still very noticeable. The question that was brought up was that has Patrick begun to run her course in the Sprint Cup Series without consistently finishing in the top-15? That is up to the individual asking.
Patrick’s car was near perfect during the Sprint Unlimited race but sometime between the end and then the start of the Sprint All-Star Race, something changed. Patrick ended up fighting a severely tight racecar all night that even had Crew Chief Tony Gibson perplexed.
“We were just too tight,” she said. “The guys did a great job on pit road. That goes without saying. It was just a tough night, but hopefully we are able to figure out what was wrong, and we can come back here next weekend and have a better run.”
“The car was pretty good the first race, and the second race I don’t know what happened,” Gibson said in a press release after the race. “It was plowing tight from the very first lap on, and we couldn’t get it fixed. We slung everything I know to sling at it. Maybe we had a bump stop or a shock give up on it, but I just don’t know right now. Everybody dug all night long and we stayed in the game, and that’s all you can do. It’s frustrating because you don’t know what happened. We’ll try to figure out what we’ve got.
During her press conference after it was announced that she was the fan vote winner, Patrick made it a point to thank her fans. Her crew even surprised her with a special decal for her car that said “Thanks Fans”
“First and very foremost, thank you to all the fans who voted for me or maybe voted so many times for me,” Patrick said. “I’m very fortunate to have the fan base that I do, and I never forget that. It really just makes me feel bad to win the Sprint Fan Vote and run in the back of the race. We just couldn’t get the GoDaddy Cares Chevrolet right.
Patrick took to Twitter after the race thanking her fans again saying, “I am so fortunate to have all you great fans that voted me into the all-star race. Thank you. I really wish I could of made you more proud.” The outpouring of support to Patrick was undeniable; her fans will stick with her no matter what.
Patrick and the GoDaddy Crew got to spend another weekend at home as the series prepares for its longest race of the season, the Coca-Cola 600. Patrick was on hand all week doing various promotions for her sponsors including a Q&A session at Academy Sports, a commercial shoot for GoDaddy and various fan events for Coca-Cola.
As she gears up for her second run in the Coca-Cola 600, there is one other thing on Patrick’s mind; Indy. Patrick made her name in the Indy 500 by becoming the first woman to lead laps and holds the highest finish for a woman at 3rd. This will mark Patrick’s second year watching the Indy 500 from her motorhome instead of being out on the track.
Will she ever pull the double and try both races on the same day? According to Patrick, it isn’t out of the question. In fact, the talk about doing it this season was strong but ultimately, Patrick decided to focus solely on NASCAR and the Coca-Cola 600, but don’t rule it out in the future.
Memorial Day weekend is one of the best of the year. School is out for the summer, two of the best races in the world bring together the best drivers in the world, and most importantly, it’s a time to celebrate all of those who have served or who are serving in out nations military.
So start off your Sunday morning with the Indianapolis 500 then finish your night with the Coca-Cola 600. An entire day dedicated to the best racing in the country, what more could a race fan ask for?
Danica’s second trip to the Lady in Black, otherwise known as Darlington Raceway, didn’t go exactly how she and her team had hoped. This marked Patrick’s second start at NASCAR toughest track after she made her inaugural appearance there last season as one of her 10 scheduled Sprint Cup Series races.
After hitting the wall in the middle of the first practice session that put her in a back-up car, Patrick and her team struggled to find the right set up in time for qualifying. Starting 40th for Saturday’s race, Patrick reported a tight-handling racecar but with only one caution flag in the first 303 laps, it left little time for the team to make adjustments.
“Those long green flag runs just killed us,” Patrick said in a press release after the race. “It’s tough because you get behind, and it’s hard to get caught back up when the pace is that fast and there are so little yellows at the beginning. We had a setback in practice, and that cut into our practice time and because of that we didn’t get to make any qualifying runs, which led us to going out cold in qualifying, which is not a strength of mine anyway. So it was just a tough weekend. Nothing is wasted. No run or no lap is wasted, but sometimes the fruits of your labor aren’t realized until later on.”
Despite her 28th place finish, her Crew Chief Tony Gibson was pleased with her efforts.
She did a really nice job. Probably about halfway through the race, it kind of clicked, and she started running some really good lap times,” he said. “She picked up on a few things following other guys, so our progress I thought went really good. The goal coming in here was to run all the laps, and if we can’t run them all, run as many as we can. Learn, then go home and digest all that and put it in our notebook and build off that, and that’s exactly what we did. She gave great feedback, and we made the adjustments, and it showed in the lap times. The pit stops were really, really good, and Danica did a good job. We learned a lot, and we’ll build on it for the next one.”
The team is off this weekend as they don’t have to worry about running for points but they still have a race to prepare for. Patrick is scheduled to run in the Sprint Showdown, a race that lets drivers who haven’t qualified for the Sprint All-Star Race a chance to race their way in. If she doesn’t finish in the top two positions, she can still rely on the fan vote as a way to get into the big show.
There are two ways to vote for Danica Patrick to get her into the All-Star Race: Online and by the NASCAR Mobile 13 App. GoDaddy, Patrick’s primary sponsor, is donating money to three notable charities this season through their foundation, GoDaddy Cares, which will be featured on Patrick’s car this weekend. Those three charities are:
Hope for Haiti: Hope for Haiti is a Naples, Fla.-based charitable organization operating in Port-au-Prince and out of Les Cayes in the south of Haiti. Serving in the most remote areas, Hope for Haiti’s mission is to improve the quality of life for the Haitian people, particularly children, through education, nutrition, and health care. For more than 20 years, the organization has been working in partnership with the Haitian people to connect, heal, and empower communities on the path toward sustainability.
National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF): The National Breast Cancer Foundation was founded in 1991 by breast cancer survivor Janelle Hail. NBCF continues to grow every year to help more and more women around the world by educating them about breast cancer and providing free mammograms to women in need.
VEX Robotics / REC Foundation: The Robotics Education & Competition Foundation (REC) seeks to increase student interest and involvement in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by engaging students in hands-on sustainable and affordable curriculum-based robotics engineering programs across the United States and internationally.
If you want to see Danica Patrick in the All-Star Race, then click here to vote online or check out the NASCAR Mobile 13 App where each vote casted counts twice and catch her in the Sprint Showdown Saturday night. The Fan Vote closes at 5pm ET on May 18th.
The Lady in Green known as Danica Patrick will face off against the Lady in Black known as Darlington Raceway for the second time in her Sprint Cup career this Saturday. After a roller coaster ride that is known as Talladega, this short track will definitely give us race fans a good show.
Patrick took to Talladega Super Speedway last weekend and tried to repeat her whirlwind weekend at Daytona. Running in the Nationwide Race with Turner Scott Motorsports with sponsorship from AccuDoc Solutions and GoDaddy, Patrick qualified 4th but unfortunately finished 39th after her tandem draft with teammate Kyle Larson went horribly wrong and sent her spinning through the muddy infield.
“I hate it for everyone at Turner Scott Motorsports, this is the second time they gave me great car this season,” said Patrick in a press release on her website. “We were just riding and trying to make our way back up to the front. I’m just disappointed that I wasn’t able to bring the AccuDoc Solutions/Go Daddy Chevy home with a finish that I felt like we could have gotten.”
Sprint Cup qualifying was rained out on Saturday leaving Patrick starting in the 23rd position. Patrick missed a big accident early in the race that claimed thirteen cars and showed car control that stunned her Crew Chief Tony Gibson.
“We were watching, and we were like, ‘Holy cow,’” Gibson said. “The next thing you know is she came on the radio, and she just aimed for the empty hole. I don’t know how she missed the No. 18 (Kyle Busch) there at the end. How she survived, I have no idea. The GoDaddy.com Chevy did good, and our spotter (Brandon Benesch) did an awesome job.”
Unfortunately, when the race was restarted after a three and a half our rain delay, she wouldn’t get so lucky. Running mid pack, an incident that started between Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and J.J. Yeley cause another big one.
“Ricky was trying to make it four-wide, and the No. 36 (JJ Yeley) came up to block him, and it turned him,” she said in a press release. “Then the No. 78 (Kurt Busch) was spinning; I went high, and somebody came up and clipped me and put me in the wall. I’m not sure which car it was. Honestly, it is just the way it goes. People forcing the issue. It is late in the race; I get it. But that’s what causes these accidents that makes speedway racing speedway racing. It’s just unfortunate for everyone on the Go Daddy team.”
Patrick has made two starts at Darlington, both coming last season. She started 15th and finished 12th last season in the Nationwide Series and then made her second start in the Sprint Cup Series the very next day and finished 31st.
“Last year, I ran there in the (Sprint) Cup race and it was basically my first Cup race, really. I ran Daytona, but Darlington was like getting thrown into the deep end. That was the purpose of it, to get seat time so I’m not thinking or dreading going there this weekend worrying about what that’s going to look like for me and how it’s going to feel. I have an idea now of how it’s going to feel and what needs to be done.”
So how will the Lady in Green fair against the Lady in Black? Tune in Saturday night to the Southern 500 to see for yourself. And don’t forget to vote for Patrick in the Sprint All-Star Race! Voting is open until 5pm ET on May 18th!
Last weekend’s race in Richmond probably won’t rank high on Danica Patrick’s list of favorite races of 2013. Patrick finished 29th, one place better than where she started, and four laps down from race winner Kevin Harvick.
Patrick was battling a racecar that was loose on entry, tight in the center and loose on exit in the corners. Her team, led by Tony Gibson, made small improvements throughout the race but nothing really brought the car to her.
“We were just so tight in the center of the corner. We just couldn’t loosen the car up enough to make the center work the way we needed to,” Patrick said in in a press release after the race. “Tony Gibson and the Go Daddy guys threw a lot at it, but we just couldn’t get the center quite right. We were loose in, tight center, loose off, but as much as we tried to loosen up the center, we never really affected the entry either.”
In the end, Richmond was another learning experience for the Rookie driver who moves on to Talladega this weekend, the sister track to Daytona. Patrick brought the world of NASCAR into the mainstream media at Daytona when she captured the Pole for the Great American Race and ran in the top-5 all day then dropped to eighth on the last lap. As she heads to Talladega this weekend, she hopes to garnish similar results.
“I feel like I’ve learned some lessons from Daytona about the draft and how that unfolds at the end if you are in the right place at the right time,” she said in her pre-race news release. “I think that, when we talk superspeedway racing, there’s a lot of luck involved. Like I said, right place at the right time … there are a lot of people who have a good chance of winning Talladega, I think. Hopefully, we are one of them at the end of the race. But, we won’t know that until end of the race.”
Gibson and the team are bringing Patrick’s Pole car from Daytona to the race as her primary this weekend so there is no doubt it will be fast. Can Patrick sit on the Pole for the Aaron’s 499 on Sunday? It’s quite possible.
Patrick is pulling double duty this weekend as she gets behind the wheel of the No.34 Turner Scott Motorsports AccuDoc Solutions Chevrolet for the Aaron’s 312 Nationwide Series Race on Saturday. Patrick made her debut in this car at the Drive4COPD 300 in Daytona and was leading laps until what seemed like an engine issue sent her to the garage. She ended the practice sessions yesterday low on the speed charts but was among the fastest running single car laps.
“I really enjoy racing at the superspeedways, and Turner Scott Motorsports has a great superspeedway package,” she said. “We had a great run going in Daytona, and I’m hoping we can pick up where we left off. I have a great crew, and I feel like we have an opportunity to bring home a solid finish for AccuDoc Solutions, Go Daddy and TSM.”
Patrick was busy off the track before heading to Talladega. Earlier this week, she attended the Chicago Blackhawks game as they faced off against the Minnesota Wild in the Stanley Cup playoffs. She participated in the “Shoot the Puck” contest between the 2nd and 3rd periods. Dressed in an oversized Blackhawks jersey with her name and number on the back and white skinny jeans, Patrick made her first shot without any problems but couldn’t quite make the others (Check out the video here).
With two races this weekend and also a contest judging on her hands, Patrick is going to be busy at Talladega. Can she get her first stock car win this weekend? The possibility is not out of the question. Patrick is definitely one of the stronger Super Speedway racers in both series this weekend and although she hasn’t come out victorious quite yet, it is entirely possible.
Want to see Nightline’s piece on Patrick and her crew at Martinsville this season? Click here.