Danica Patrick made her first start on a road course in the Sprint Cup Series last weekend at Sonoma but it didn’t go exactly as she or her team had hoped. In all seriousness, it was a disappointing weekend for Danica and the entire team.
“It was a long day – a long weekend,” Patrick said in a press release after the race. She finished 29th after running as high as 5th in one point of the race. At the beginning of the race, she was one of many cars to take a spin then on lap 68, she cut a left front tire and rear-ended the tire barrier in turn 10. She made a few trips down pit road for repairs to the GoDaddy Chevy.
Patrick finished 29th and on the lead lap at the end of the race; improving from her 31st place starting spot. “We just couldn’t get the car to the point where I was comfortable with it. It’s disappointing because I know the GoDaddy guys worked really hard all weekend,” Patrick continued. “We just couldn’t get much to go our way this weekend. Having the cut tire and going into the tire barrier was just sort of salt in the wound. Hopefully we have a better weekend next week at Kentucky.”
The team is definitely looking forward to this weekend’s race at Kentucky. In her two starts at the track last season in the Nationwide Series, she started 11th in both and finished 12th and 14th. She also made seven IndyCar starts where she garnished four top-10 finished and one pole.
“It’s one of those tracks where I have experience but, obviously, not in a lot of it in a stock car,” she said in the press release. “I’ve been there a lot, but only the Nationwide Series races from last year will offer any type of experience or help. I ran a lot of IndyCar races at Kentucky but, obviously, those aren’t really going to benefit me this weekend. The track definitely has character to it with the bumps, and we practice during the day on Friday and then race at night on Saturday, so the track conditions can change during the race. When you add all that up, it’s a challenging place.”
Patrick has been chartered all over the country this season; sometimes hitting all four time zones in one week. Her travel the past 10 days or so, starting in California, has been dubbed the “Here, There and Everywhere” tour. When asked about the challenges of traveling so much, she had this to say:
“It’s tough because you never seem to catch your breath. It’s really tough on the guys, too. The GoDaddy crew flew back from Sonoma to Charlotte and then right to New Hampshire and then Kentucky. So it’s really challenging for them, too, and I know they’re working really hard. They’ve got families, too, and being on the West Coast for three days and then up in New Hampshire and then Kentucky isn’t easy on them or their families, so I appreciate their hard work and sacrifice. Hopefully, it will pay off with a good run this weekend.”
Earlier this week, Patrick was named one of the “World’s Most Powerful Celebrities” by Forbes Magazine. She was ranked 91st where she said it feels “pretty incredible to be included” and that it is great for GoDaddy and the rest of her sponsors as well. “It’s a great honor for me and everyone involved. I’m certainly happy to be included,” she concluded.
With the Coke Zero 400 quickly approaching, Patrick and the GoDaddy team will be heading back to the place where they made history happen to kick off the 2013 season. Will Patrick better her 8th place Daytona 500 finish next weekend? She just might. With one of her sponsors being Coke Zero, having a good showing at a track like Daytona, would be a great confidence booster for Danica and the entire team.
The summer stretch is just heating up, literally, and Patrick and the GoDaddy team are starting to hit their stride and making improvements each and every week. Which barrier will she break down next? Stay tuned to find out, she just might surprise you.
Our Lady in Green took on the Tricky Triangle for the first time in her career last weekend at Pocono Raceway. What was first thought to be a great weekend for Patrick started out to be another great learning experience.
Patrick was running near the top-20 in the closing laps of the race but ended the day in 29th after getting shuffled back during the final restarts.
“The guys gave me a good GoDaddy Chevrolet,” Patrick said in a press release. “We just got shuffled back at the end on the restarts. It’s disappointing because we could have had a much better finish. It’s just part of the process, learning how to get better on restarts, especially at the end of races. That’s where you can really gain a lot of spots.”
Patrick’s 29th place finish moved her to 28th in point standing, up two spots from the week before.
This weekend, the series heads to Michigan. Patrick will make her first Sprint Cup Series start at the track, but this is far from her first visit; she has two Nationwide Series starts and three IZOD IndyCar starts at Michigan.
Patrick is hoping that the Irish Hills of Michigan will be kind to her this weekend as she put her GoDaddy Chevrolet tires on the track for the first time on Friday as she continues her pursuit in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
“I think that people have been really understanding of the fact that this is a learning curve and coming from IndyCar is a totally different place. I feel like that’s been actually very publicized by (the media), that there is going to be time needed to see that through,” Patrick said in a press conference last weekend. “There are a lot of times that my crew chief (Tony Gibson) wants to remind me that I am doing a good job and that this is the first year, not only in Cup, but my second full time in stock cars. But I have high expectation levels, so I don’t think it’s a bad quality to have.”
Patrick’s goal this weekend is to improve on her intermediate track performance and is hoping Michigan will be just the place to do that.
“Michigan is a wide, fast track. There’s lots of room to move around and try different lines. The intermediate tracks have been a struggle for us this year, but I think we’re improving as a team overall at SHR and I think I’m improving, as well,” she said. “Our goals are the same as they are every week – to improve on qualifying and to race better. The GoDaddy crew has worked really hard, especially in the last month. We’ve tested a lot, and that means extra days on the road for everyone. I can’t thank the guys enough for their efforts. They’ve really put in a ton of work, and it would be nice to see that work pay off.”
Earlier this week, the racing world lost one of their own, Jason Leffler, when he was killed in a wreck during the heat race at a dirt track in New Jersey. Danica Patrick released a statement regarding the devastating news:
“I was very sad to hear of Jason’s passing. He was a good guy and a good racecar driver. He was a successful driver for a long time. My thoughts and prayers go out to his entire family and friends, especially his son, Charlie.”
After a rough start to the Fed-Ex 400 left Patrick multiple laps down, it turned out not to be such a bad day after all once the checkered flag flew.
Patrick started the race in 39th and after a few laps, was up to 34th and rising. Lap 37 was when everything came to a halt. Racing hard with David Stremme for position, Patrick made contact with his left rear and cut the tire on her GoDaddy machine sending her to the pits early in the race for new tires and repairs to the No. 10.
“It was one of those Martinsville-like deals, where we got all bunched up and I had no option but to keep the steering wheel straight or else we both would’ve gotten taken out,” Patrick said over the radio.
After coming out of the pits 41st and three laps down, Patrick’s day started to look up. She gained 17 spots throughout the final 360 laps and lost only one more lap to the leaders. She left Dover with a 24th place finish.
“I definitely didn’t make our day start off right by getting into the 30 in (turns) three and four and getting a cut tire, we were only 30 or so laps into the run,” she said in a press release after the race. “It made for a long day, but it didn’t mean that the GoDaddy team gave up. We still salvaged points, of course. That’s what we have to keep doing – learning and finishing all of these races so I can get better.”
Patrick’s teammate and car owner Tony Stewart came away with the win at Dover which is a major boost for Stewart-Haas Racing.
The series head to Pocono for a stand-alone event this week and this will mark Patrick’s first race, in any series, at the track. Stewart-Haas Racing was one of the teams scheduled at the test at Pocono a few weeks ago which allowed Patrick to log her first laps at the track.
Pocono is often referred to as the Indy of the East due to its similarities to Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Its turns were made to resemble those at Indy and also those at Daytona, two of Patrick’s best tracks, leaving her excited to race here for the first time.
“It seems like a neat place, definitely a unique track. I’m looking forward to it, and I’m glad that we tested so I was able to get familiar with the place before coming back this week,” she said in a press release. “These official tests are really, really helpful for people like me who still had yet to be to certain tracks. This is the last track that I hadn’t been to, so it’s good that we tested.”
Patrick has been learning a lot from her fellow teammates as well. “I poke my head in the car and ask both of them how it’s going. Questions like, ‘Can you carry the brake in there very deep?’ If they are shifting in all the corners right now – just braking markers and things like that. Having them around is helpful but, to be honest, really having their data to look at and be able to just kind of look at their braking points and their brake pressure, minimum speed through the corner and things like that – that’s the stuff that is the most helpful, she said.
Patrick was seen in Victory Lane giving her boss a well-deserved hug at Dover after his win. With the struggles that SHR has had this season, the Victory may have been with the No.14 team, but it was a victory for the entire organization. “I was happy for him and I was happy for the team. It’s been a struggle for everyone this year,” she said, “but everyone has worked really, really hard. The drivers, the crew chiefs, the engineers, everyone at the shop – everyone on the team is working extra hard to get better. To get a victory is huge for the team. It gets the momentum going in the right direction and I’m sure it will make everyone work even harder. I think it was something that was needed.”
Watch out for Patrick this weekend at Pocono. The team is high on momentum with Stewart’s win last weekend and Pocono has been known to treat Rookie drivers pretty well; especially those who get along with Indianapolis and Daytona.