A solid top-20 finish was what Danica Patrick and the GoDaddy team were hoping for at Loudon, New Hampshire. Unfortunately, they came up just short.
Patrick and her team ran a great race last weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, but a last race restart bumped her from 17th, to 27st, where she would later finish.
“I’m not sure if I got hit or just got really loose on the last restart,” said Patrick after the race. “The car just went sideways, and I lost a ton of spots. It’s disappointing. It’s something to learn from and put in the notebook for next time. The car just never felt ‘in’ the track today. It wasn’t for a lack of effort by the Tony Gibson and the guys, but it just wasn’t quite were we needed it to be. We took two tires on the last stop, but that last restart hurt us and we lost a lot of spots. It’s disappointing, but we’ll move on.”
After looking back at the replay of Patrick’s in-car camera, she was tapped from behind on the last restart, causing her car to get loose. Patrick’s significant other and fellow Rookie driver, Ricky Stenhouse Jr, finished just two spots ahead of her in 25th.
This weekend, Patrick is going on a date with Miles, the monster that is. Taking on the 1-mile oval track that is Dover International Speedway, Patrick and the rest of the drivers will be competing on concrete for the last time in 2013.
For the most part, concrete treats Patrick pretty well. She was running in the top-20 in her first Bristol Night Race before getting punted into the inside wall with just a handful of laps to go. This weekend will mark her third trip to Dover in the Cup series.
“I look through notes at what the feel was from the time before,” she said in preparing for this weekend. “Every weekend is its own weekend and sometimes I feel like it’s nice almost to come in a little bit fresh, too, and not have any preconceived ideas.”
“I like to make notes from the races because there are so many that are similar; you almost can’t remember what you’re supposed to do,” she said. “There are tiny, little things about a track that are helpful to remember – just where the grip is and bumps and certain things. There’s general feel, like do you drive flat into the corner or do you lift early – just little things that help you get your rhythm quicker. That’s about all I do.”
In general, Patrick likes Dover. It’s a fast track that is similar to Bristol and if you have a good car, it can lead to some great results.
A top-20 finish was just what Danica Patrick and the GoDaddy.com team needed to kick off the final ten races of the season.
After a long, rain delayed race, almost seven hours total, the race finally ended well into the night in Chicago last Sunday. An hour and a half delay at the start of the race due to a misty Chicago left the drivers and teams hoping and praying that they could get the race at least to the halfway point before more rain hit. Unfortunately, they didn’t quite make it there. On lap 108, just shy of the halfway point, the rain hit and hit hard. The teams and drivers, along with the fans in the stands, scattered for shelter. Crewmen were seen napping in the garage and some drivers even made a trip to Sonic for some mid-race food. When the race finally resumed, over five hours later, the cars were suddenly racing under the lights.
Patrick, who started the race in 26th, drove a great race and ran as high as 16th before coming home 20th and on the lead lap.
“We weren’t the fastest car out there, but we were decent and relatively consistent,” Patrick said in a press release, “The cars are getting better, and I’m learning things. It’s going in the right direction. I’d like it to go further, but I’ll take any progress. Overall, it was a good night for the GoDaddy team. The pit crew was great once again, and it was a positive night for us.”
Patrick’s week was full of excitement as she announced that she would be co-hosting an awards show in December. The 4th annual American Country Awards will air on FOX on December 10th and Patrick will join the shows original host, Trace Adkins. Adkins, who stands six and a half feet tall, is excited to be working with Patrick.
“I can’t wait to see if I have what it takes to keep up with this racing superstar,” said Adkins.
Patrick, who, in years past has expressed her dislike for country music, now finds herself listening and singing along to country’s top artists more and more.
“I’m so excited to host the AMERICAN COUNTRY AWARDS with Trace Adkins,” Patrick said. “I have no doubt he’ll be able to keep up with me. I’ve become a huge fan of country music since I came to NASCAR and have been fortunate to be in videos with Miranda Lambert and Colt Ford. This is going to be a really cool experience and I’m excited to be a part of it. It’s going to be a great show!”
As far as her new love for the genre, Patrick has Ricky Stenhouse Jr and NASCAR to thank for that.
“It really started when I got to NASCAR. I started picking up on it,” Patrick said. “I got asked to be in Miranda Lambert’s video, Fastest Girl in Town, and I bought her album and the Pistol Annie album and started listening. Ricky (Stenhouse Jr.) has certainly helped my country music education, as well. I like the music and have had the opportunity to meet a lot of country artists, so it’s been fun. Ricky and I actually shot a video with Colt Ford a couple of weeks ago. I still like Pearl Jam and Alanis (Morissette), but I’m a huge country fan, now.”
Although she will soon add “Awards Show Host” to her long resume, Patrick still has nine more races to go before the end of the season. This weekend, the series takes on New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the second time. In her first Sprint Cup Series start at the track, Patrick’s day ended early when she was involved in a wreck on lap 237.
After qualifying 21st on Friday, Patrick and the team are hoping for another top-20 finish this weekend. Tune in to the Sylvania 300 on Sunday at 2:00PM EST on ESPN.
Despite all of the chaos and controversy that came out of last weekends race at Richmond International Raceway, Patrick and her GoDaddy team would rather forget that race ever took place.
Patrick started 36th and finished 30th in the Federated Auto Parts 400 at RIR on Sunday and struggled to gain positions throughout the race. The team, despite their hard efforts, just couldn’t get the car to handle quite right.
“It just wasn’t our night,” said Patrick, who made her 36th Sprint Cup start and her second at Richmond. “We just didn’t get it right. Tony Gibson (crew chief) and the GoDaddy guys never gave up and worked hard all weekend. There are nights that you just know it’s not going to go your way, and this was one of those nights. We’ve been making gains in recent weeks, but tonight was tough. The important thing is for me and the guys to forget about it and move onto Chicago and look to get better.”
This weekend, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Chicagoland Speedway for the first race in the Chase and for Patrick, it’s sort of a homecoming for her. She grew up just a few hours from the city in a town called Roscoe where she attended high school with another familiar name in motorsports, Nicole Briscoe. Two years her senior, Briscoe and Patrick were never great friends, but having the two of them cross paths years later in NASCAR makes for a pretty interesting story.
“I’ve always loved going to Chicago. I love the city – it’s just a great place,” Patrick said in a press release on her website. “There’s so much to do and the restaurants, the shopping – it’s just a world-class city. I think the race will be good. It’s a busy week for us testing out in Phoenix for Goodyear on Tuesday and Wednesday and then heading to Chicagoland. I’ve always liked the track and we’ve been getting better at the intermediate tracks in recent weeks, especially in qualifying. So, I’m looking forward to it.”
Qualifying has always been a struggle for Patrick in stock cars with her average starting spot being 30.5. The cars too the track on Friday for qualifying and she put the GoDaddy.com Chevrolet mid-pack, starting 23rd.
With Chicagoland Speedway being one of Patrick’s home tracks (she also calls Phoenix home), she will also have some family and friends there this weekend to see her race.
“It will be nice to have family and friends out. It’s a little different because I rarely have people at the races with me. It’s nice to see everyone and have their support and hopefully we put on a good show for them,” Patrick said.
Earlier this week, Patrick was in Phoenix as one of the teams selected to participate in a tire test as the track. With no air conditioning in her house in Scottsdale, Patrick is glad to be staying at her home in Chicago, which does indeed have AC.
“This was ‘old friends week’ back in Arizona,” she said during her press conference yesterday. “It was nice. I saw a lot of people an A/C unit was out, which was very uncomfortable to sleep in a hot house. I think it was about 80 – 88 degrees throughout the house. But that’s okay; I can get everything fixed before we go back in November. It actually rained three days in a row out there. It was terrible. I tried to play golf. It’s really hard to play golf when it’s pouring rain. But I came back to Chicago on Wednesday night and Ricky’s dad came into town and had dinner. So that was nice; got some friends and family coming to the race this weekend. So I definitely make the most of the times when I get back to my home bases.”
As the Chase rolls off this weekend, Patrick is looking forward to returning to tracks on the circuit for the second and third time. Besides Homestead, Patrick has made at least one Cup start at each of the final ten tracks and hopes to use past race notes and experience to improve on her qualifying and race finishes.
Tune in tomorrow afternoon to catch the first race in the Chase and see how Patrick and the GoDaddy team fairs at her home track.
The GoDaddy team finished where they started last weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Patrick started 21st in the field, one of her better qualifying efforts this season, and after running a clean race, finished in the same spot.
Improving eight spots from last season, Patrick and the team made major improvements to the car for the race after a series of bad practice times left her running in the mid-30s before the race.
“I’m proud of the GoDaddy guys,” said Patrick, “we weren’t good in the first practice (on Friday). Tony Gibson and the guys worked really hard, and we qualified well and then continued to get better throughout the weekend. It was a good race for us. It was a little tight at the end, but overall, we improved, and I think we’ve gotten better the last few races. The pit crew was really good, and they were quick on each stop. I’m happy with how we ran. Obviously, you always want to do better than you finish, but it’s like we’ve said all year, it’s about making little gains and getting better as we go along.”
Before heading to Richmond, Patrick had a little fun during the week. Earlier in the year, Patrick filmed an episode of the Food Network’s hit show, “Chopped.” Featuring four sports stars, Patrick went up against former NFL running back Tiki Barber, celebrity bodyguard and Hells Angel Chuck Zito and 12-time Olympic medalist swimmer Natalie Coughlin.
On the show, each contestant is given the same basket of mystery ingredients and has to prepare a meal using the chosen ingredients. With three rounds consisting of an appetizer, entrée and dessert, one contestant is eliminated after each round. Coming down to the dessert round, it was Patrick and Coughlin going head to head.
In the end, Patrick’s 3-course meal was superior and she walked away the Chopped Champion and her charity, the COPD Foundation, was awarded $10,000. Her reaction was that of a little kid receiving the puppy they’ve been asking for.
You can find more about what Patrick prepared in the kitchen here and find the full episode, titled “Sports Stars” on iTunes.
Also this week, Patrick and fellow Rookie Ricky Stenhouse Jr were a part of a new music video by country artist Colt Ford. The video, shot near the Charlotte area, will be released at a later date.
After her fun this week, its back to business as Patrick heads to Richmond for the second time. Back in April, Patrick started 30th in the race and finished 29th. Testing at the track just a few weeks ago with Mark Martin, the team hopes that the extra time on the .75-mile oval will lead to a better result on Saturday night.
“The test went really well,” Patrick said in a press release, “I’ve always been happy to have other drivers in my car at a test, especially someone like Mark with all his experience. 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.”
“I’ve always enjoyed coming to Richmond. I had fun racing Indy cars here,” she continued. “I liked driving the Nationwide car
here. We didn’t have the greatest result but it was still fun. Having done the Cup race in the spring and then a test last week, I feel more confident going in. As I’ve said, it’s nice to go to these tracks a second or third time. The comfort level is obviously much higher.”
After a bobble in qualifying, Patrick will be starting the Federated Auto Parts 400 in 36th place. The team will need some strategy to get through the field but Patrick has shown promise on short tracks this season. With one previous start and a test session at Richmond, the team is ready to tackle the track. Tony Stewart will also be at the race this weekend so look for him to offer his “little sister” some much needed advise on race day.