Her second attempt at the famed Bristol Night Race ended slightly better than the first. After starting 22nd in the race, Patrick battled a loose handling car and just 100 laps into the race, she slapped the wall going in to turn three. After the incident, her night was anything but glorious.
The wall cause significant damage to the right side of her car and bent the splinter down. Patrick, under caution, had to make multiple trips down pit road for repairs and battled the car the rest of the night.
“Overall, I would honestly say we are still on a good streak of running strong,” said Patrick in a press release after the race. “There is nothing you can do about getting into the wall and having damage. We came back as best as we could and made the car as good as it was at the end. That is a positive. My goal, honestly, in my mind is like, ‘Man, if we can come away with a top-30 with having these problems, then that is all right,’ and we finished 26th through attrition and staying out of trouble. We will take it and move on.”
Her crew chief Tony Gibson thought the lessons Patrick learned on the track were impressive despite her finish.
“I think we were a solid top-20 car before the accident happened,” Gibson said. “Danica was doing the right thing on the track, and as far as I’m concerned, we had a good weekend here. We have to focus on the positives on a night like this. I appreciate her and the team not giving up and hanging in there together tonight.”
At the end of the night, Patrick finished 26th and multiple laps down.
Picking herself up after a tough week at Bristol, Patrick and her team head to Atlanta to tackle the quad-oval. Patrick made her Atlanta debut last season in the Sprint Cup Series race where she finished 29th.
“The first time I raced there was last year and I did both Nationwide and Cup,” she said. “That seems like a long time ago and that was only my fifth Cup start, so I feel a little more confident and knowledgeable than I did a year ago. It’s a fast place. The tires definitely go off with the surface and the line moves around a lot.”
Earlier in the week, Patrick and the team tested at Richmond in preparation for next weekends race. All of Stewart-Haas Racing was there at the test, including veteran driver Mark Martin, who hopped in to Patrick’s car to help her and the team set it up.
“The test went really well. And I’ve always been happy to have other drivers in my car at a test, especially someone like Mark with all his experience,” she said. “For me, as a rookie, I think it’s important to get a different perspective and get someone else’s thoughts. Mark has so much experience and he’s been so helpful to me, even before we were teammates, so I was happy to have him in the car. Anything that will make me better and SHR better as a whole, I’m all for.”
There are just 12 races left in the season and Patrick continues to improve and grow as a Sprint Cup Series driver. With new teammates Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch joining her and Tony Stewart in 2014, SHR is going to be the organization to watch.
After her first trip to Michigan resulted in an impressive 13th place finish for Danica Patrick, her return to the two-mile track was hoping to garnish similar results. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.
Patrick finished 23rd in her 33rd career Sprint Cup Series start last Sunday in the Pure Michigan 400. She went down a lap early in the race as she battled with an ill-handling car but after a long series of changes to the car, she was able to get her lap back and stay on the lead lap the remainder of the race.
This weekend, Patrick and the rest of the Sprint Cup Series crews head to Bristol Motor Speedway for the Irwin Tools 500 under the Tennessee lights. The Bristol Night Race is one of the few races on the schedule that drivers and teams look forward to all season long and for Patrick, she too, feels the same.
“I’ve liked Bristol since I went there the first time,” she said in a press release on her website. “I remember when I set foot onto that track, it was the day before, it was load-in day and I looked out there and you’re standing on the straightaway, but it sure seems like a corner.”
Patrick’s first start in the No.10 at Bristol came in 2012 when owner and teammate Tony Stewart scheduled what is known as the Bristol Night Race as one of Patrick’s 10 Cup Series starts. During the race, Patrick battled her way into the top-20 only to be taken out by a fellow driver with 66-laps remaining. She went on to finish 29th. This year, she hopes for a different story.
There has been one main man missing from the Stewart-Haas Racing organization these last two weeks as Stewart as been at home recovering from a severely broken leg. Two weeks ago, Max Papis drove the No.14 through the winding roads at Watkins Glen and last weekend, Nationwide Series Driver Austin Dillon drove the No.14 to a 14th place finish at Michigan. This weekend, and for the remainder of the season, veteran driver Mark Martin will be behind the wheel of Stewart’s ride with Dillon filling in once more at Talladega.
Patrick and Martin have a good relationship and she spoke highly of him earlier this week.
“I think he’s a great choice as a replacement for Tony,” she said. “His knowledge and experience is probably second to none in the garage. It gives the team some stability throughout the final few months knowing Mark’s in the car for all the races, except for Talladega. And obviously we’ve got Austin (Dillon) in there for that race. I think it just allows us to get back to a little sense of normalcy and, hopefully, get into a routine as an organization. It’s still tough not to see Tony at the racetrack, but we know we’ve got a good plan for the rest of the year. Selfishly, it will be a huge benefit to work with Mark and learn from him. He’s so respected in the garage. I’m excited to get the chance to work with him.”
So as Patrick, Newman and Martin all prepare for Bristol, thoughts always bounce back to their missing teammate. All focus will be on the task at hand as soon as the tires hit the track and for Patrick, she hopes her strong Nationwide Series run (9th in 2012) plus her experience from last season will transition into a good finish for the GoDaddy.com team.
When Danica Patrick took to the track in upstate New York last weekend in her No.10 GoDaddy.com Chevy, there was a little more on her mind than just turning right.
Just a few days before the Sprint Cup Series hit the track for their final road course race of the season, Patrick’s teammate and owner Tony Stewart broke both bones in his lower right leg. The injury, which required immediate surgery, will keep Stewart out of the car indefinitely and left Patrick and fellow Stewart-Haas Racing driver Ryan Newman with a new teammate and at Watkins Glen, that was Max Papis.
With Stewart no doubt in the back of her and her teams mind, Patrick drove an impressive race on Sunday. With as many as three spotters guiding her around the racetrack, Patrick dodged two late-race wrecks to finish a respectable 20th.
“I think at the end of the day, there was a lot going on, especially at the end,” Patrick said. “So I just tried to stay calm and stay focused on not making any mistakes. It was really easy to make mistakes out there, and we worked on the car, and I feel like we have a direction for next time.”
If it weren’t for her eyes above the track, Patrick would have likely been caught up in the carnage that came in the last 20 laps of the race.
“The spotters did a great job today,” Patrick said. “It’s so tough sometimes to see what’s going on ahead of you on a road course, but they kept me aware and kept me out of trouble, especially at the end. I’m proud of the entire GoDaddy team. We didn’t nail it today…but I think we made gains, for sure, from the beginning of practice until the end of the race.”
After the race, Crew Chief Tony Gibson came over the radio and promised the spotters a 6-pack, and a well deserved one at that.
This weekend, the team heads to Michigan, a place where Patrick excelled just a few months ago. Patrick earned herself a top-15 finish at Michigan back in June and Gibson and Patrick hope to improve the second time around.
Patrick’s overall thoughts on Michigan can be summed up in one word, Momentum. “I think it’s a momentum track and I feel like I come from a background of carrying a lot of momentum and using a lot of throttle,” she said in a press release on her website. “I think we caught some breaks (in June). Yellows definitely helped us be able to get track position as far as closing up the gaps and being able to pit a few times. It was nice to just get a decent finish for the team and for GoDaddy.”
Patrick and Ricky Stenhouse Jr hit the links in New York before hitting the track last weekend. Stenhouse, an avid golfer, was able to get tickets for the PGA Golf Championship last Thursday and although it wasn’t racing related, there were still plenty of young girls there who know who Patrick was.
“There was a little girl at the PGA Championship last Thursday. She wasn’t little, she was maybe 10 (years old) and her dad was telling her who I was as I was walking by,” she said. “I could hear it all happening – you know, it’s right behind me. He had said, ‘Hello,’ and so as I kind of turned off to walk another way, I looked over just to wave at her. It would be easy enough for me to just keep walking and they didn’t say anything to me. They didn’t try and say hello again or take a picture or anything, but I could tell she figured out who I was and she thought that was cool. So I just turned around to wave at her. She will have that story, now, as opposed to me walking away. Just little stuff like that.”
If you head to any racetrack where Patrick may be competing, it is abundantly clear to see how much of an impact she has on young girls and women everywhere and for Patrick, she is just honored to be in a position to be a role model.
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.
After a weekend off for various appearances and some relaxation in Chicago, Danica Patrick was back behind the wheel and this time it was at a venue all too familiar to the 31 year old NASCAR Rookie.
As the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series took to the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the 20th running of the Brickyard 400, all eyes were on Patrick as she got behind the wheel of her No.10 GoDaddy Chevy for the first time at the historic track.
Since 2005 where she made history in her first attempt at the Indy 500, Patrick had made a total of eight starts prior to last Sunday’s race. In her first start in IndyCar’s most historic and popular race, Patrick became a household name after starting third, leading laps and ultimately finishing fourth in the Indy 500. Patrick competed in the Indy 500 seven times and garnished several records including being the first female to lead laps and the highest finishing female when she finished third in 2009.
Last season marked the first year since 2005 that Patrick didn’t compete in the Indy 500. Instead, she took to the track in a stock car in the NASCAR Nationwide Series where she completed 36 laps before being involved in a wreck; a first for her at Indy.
As Patrick took to the track last weekend, she was optimistic about her performance and was hoping for a good finish but unfortunately, that wasn’t in the cards.
“I just kind of kept with it and hoped to catch a break somewhere, or that the car would get a lot better, and it just kind of stayed real steady,” Patrick said. “We took two tires on one of the stops and we got track position out of it but, unfortunately, it just didn’t run very well. So, we tried something, it just didn’t work, and that’s that. It just was what it was. When we came into this weekend, I said ‘OK, I’m not going to try to take anything from the car that it doesn’t really have’ and, unfortunately, that’s what we had today. Or, that’s what I had today.
At the end of the day, Patrick brought the GoDaddy.com Chevrolet home in 30th place and in one piece. Patrick’s teammate, Ryan Newman, took his No,39 Chevy to Victory Lane to get his first win of the season and second for Stewart-Haas Racing in 2013.
This weekend, Patrick and the rest of the NASCAR Spring Cup Series head back to the Tricky Triangle, otherwise known as Pocono Raceway, for the 21st race of the season.
This weekend, however, Patrick won’t be the only driver in the garage sporting the GoDaddy.com logo. Teammate and owner Tony Stewart will have GoDaddy.com as his sponsor this weekend at Pocono with a black and orange paint scheme on the No.14 Chevy.
In her first race at Pocono in June, Patrick started 30th and finished one place better in 29th. This weekend, she hopes for more improvement.
“It’s(Pocono) a neat place, definitely a unique track,” she said in a press release on her website.” It was helpful to test there before the last race, especially since Friday practice was rained out during the race weekend. It’s good to go to these places a second and third time. It’s just part of the learning process. I feel more comfortable going there this time than last time and I’m sure I’ll feel even more comfortable next year. Going to these tracks a second and third time helps.”
With the season more than halfway over, Patrick is optimistic about her progress thus far.
“I think it is important to look at how it is going overall with the team,” she said. “I think we’ve had some struggles this year and we are trying to come to grips with the new car. I wish I was better off than I am right now, but we are getting better. You are competing against a lot of experience and good relationships team-wise, driver- and crew chief-wise, and familiarity. It’s just tough.”
As far as where she and her team believe they should finish each weekend, she says small goals are the key to success.
“I think hoping for top-10s and wins all the time is fairly unrealistic. It doesn’t mean it can’t happen. If there is one thing I’ve learned, it’s about baby steps and it’s about making realistic goals you can achieve. Otherwise, it’s just constantly frustrating because, if you had set a goal of top-20 and you finish there, then you have something to be happy about where, if you don’t set that goal at all and you’re 20th, then you are like, ‘I suck, I’m 20th.’ You have to set goals along the way and it’s a process. That is why experience pays off. For the most part in your whole career, you don’t stop learning and you continue to get better. It’s just a little bit more so at the beginning.”
Setting goals and achieving them has been a key component to Patrick’s successes throughout her career and continues to be beneficial as she continues to make progress in the Spring Cup Series.