Talladega was supposed to be Danica Patrick’s change to shine after weeks of less than stellar finishes. What was looking to be another possible top-10 finish was flushed down the drain after a miscommunication over the radio left her one lap down and in 33rd position.
Patrick started the race mid-pack after qualifying was rained out. Jumping in behind Dale Earnhardt Jr., Patrick quickly made her way towards her plate track comfort zone, the front of the pack. With few caution flags, the race had multiple green-flag pit stops and at a track like Talladega, green-flag stops means that the lead pack has to all pit together.
Green-flag pit stops means that the crew chiefs and spotters need to coordinate with each other as to when to pit in order to all stay with the lead draft. On lap 161, Patrick was in the middle of the draft on the high side of the racetrack when several of the lead cars began to slow and head to pit road exiting turn four. From the high side of the racetrack, Patrick attempted to get down to the bottom lane and slow to the 55-mph pit road speed mandated by NASCAR.
Just moments before, Patrick’s spotter had relayed that they would be pitting with the leaders on two laps, misinformation that cost Patrick a strong run. Patrick overshot pit road, slid through the grass and missed her pit stall. The error forced her to make another lap before pitting, and then Patrick had to serve a drive-through penalty as her initial entry onto pit road was faster than 55 mph.
“We just didn’t communicate well on that final pit stop,” Patrick said in a comment on DanicaRacing.com. “We were on the high side and couldn’t get down to where we needed to be to pit. We were trying to pit with the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) and the 88 (Dale Earnhardt Jr.). I know it’s a challenge for the spotters – you’re trying to work with other spotters on when to pit and obviously keep track of the on-track stuff. It’s a lot, and it’s happening fast. You have a split-second to make a decision, and we should have made another lap. We weren’t where we needed to be. You need to be on the bottom when you’re pitting, and we didn’t do that. We’ll discuss it and learn from it and make sure it doesn’t happen again. It’s disappointing, and none of us feel good about it. You win as a team and lose as a team. It’s tough for everybody. The GoDaddy guys gave me a great car.”
This weekend, the series kicks off the final 4-week stretch of the season at Martinsville Speedway. Patrick shocked the racing world earlier this season when she rallied back from two laps down in the spring race to finish 12th in her first start at the track. Going from the biggest track on the circuit to the smallest could pose a problem.
“Two extremes going from Talladega to the short track. I had a great car in the spring at Martinsville…” Patrick said. “It’s a short track and those leaders are on you very quickly if you don’t have a good qualifying run. Qualify better and let it play out from there. Having never been at Martinsville before, I didn’t know what to expect. All I knew was that it was going to be a little bit crazy. I think you take what the car gives you. Tony Gibson (crew chief) has a really good track record there. People talk about the race result but a lot of the time forget that we spun early and were two laps down at one point in time. So, I feel like that’s almost one of the things I’m most proud of is coming back from two laps down to being on the lead lap and then grabbing a 12th place at the end.”
During first practice Friday at Martinsville, Patrick wheel-hopped her pink No.10 GoDaddy Chevy and crushed her left-rear quarter panel. The team brought out the backup car and got her back on track before the end of practice.
Danica Patrick with representatives from Aspen Dental unavailing her new 2014 paint scheme for Las Vegas and Atlanta 2014; Photo Credit: Alan Covanna
The Bank of America 500 wasn’t the most exciting race of the season. With long green flag runs and no carnage, it made for a long race with an exciting finish.
For Danica Patrick, the race started off with pit road issues when Paul Menard collided with her left rear, spinning her backwards into her pit box. Her team changed her right side tires before turning her around and sending her back onto the track to then pit for left sides. Besides the debacle on pit road, Patrick’s day was spent working her way up though the field.
Although she had a fast racecar, the long green-flag runs and lack of cautions made it impossible to make up track position but Patrick finished a respectable 20th.
“We didn’t have a great starting spot with our GoDaddy Chevy, and as always at these mile-and-a-halfs, track position is really important…”Patrick said. “All we needed really was track position and more yellows so we could get back on the lead lap. The team did a really great job of working through practices, and my pit crew did an awesome job of getting me out in record time. I’m just really proud of this team because we made improvements all night, and I’m glad that we were able to have a solid run with this pink car and help GoDaddy and .ORG promote breast cancer awareness this month. I think in the end, we just needed track position.”
This weekend, the series heads to the Super Speedway known as Talladega and its no secret that Danica Patrick is excited for this race. In the first race of the season, Patrick rewrote history when she became the first woman to sit on the pole for the Daytona 500. Talladega, Daytona’s sister track, is just as fast and plays well into Patrick’s skill-set.
“I feel more comfortable,” she said in a press release. “I felt really comfortable at Daytona, in general, but I think I’m realizing how important it is throughout the race to try things and practice taking runs and things like that and being a little bit more brave without worrying about what happens as a result, And knowing that, as long as you don’t lose the draft, you can be set up for the end of the race.”
Looking ahead to 2014, Stewart-Haas Racing and Danica Patrick have a new primary sponsor for at least two races next season. Aspen Dental, who sponsored Ryan Newman this season, will move over to the No.10 Chevy for the Las Vegas and Atlanta races next season.
“The addition of a new partner to the No. 10 Chevrolet is a big milestone for me, and I feel fortunate to have Aspen Dental join GoDaddy beginning in 2014,” Patrick said in a press conference earlier today. “I was in Syracuse a few weeks ago to meet the Aspen team and was impressed by their commitment to making sure people have access to quality oral health care. I’m proud to team up with Aspen Dental and shine a spotlight on a part of health care that doesn’t get a lot of attention.”
Aspen Dental has been with NASCAR for many years, and is currently sponsoring the No.39 of Ryan Newman. President and CEO of Aspen Dental Bob Fontana is excited to continue with SHR and looking forward to bringing in Patrick as their new spokeswomen.
“We’ve been proud to be a part of the Stewart-Haas Racing family for the past two years and are thrilled to team up with Danica,” said Bob Fontana “As part of our mission to give America a healthy mouth, we’re dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of oral health care, and Danica’s connection with racing fans will help us turn up the volume on that conversation.”
GoDaddy.com will continue to be the primary sponsor for the remaining 36 races in 2014.
When looking at practice speeds and lap times, it looked like Kansas was going to be a much needed top-20 finish for Danica Patrick but instead, it resulted in her worst finish this season.
Patrick took to Kansas Speedway for the third time last weekend and by Saturday afternoon, her lap times were close those in the top-15. The entire tea, was ready and excited for a possible top-20 finish but unfortunately, that didn’t quite happen. On the first turn of lap 1, Patrick went to the middle of the racetrack, her safe spot, but with the drastic drop in temperatures her car didn’t stick. Her back end took off and she slid up into the wall, ending her day.
In an interview after the mandatory ride to the care center, she spoke highly of her team and was disappointed in herself.
“I knew that, going into the race based on practice and everything we’ve seen from practice in Cup to the Nationwide race, losing grip was going to be not that hard to do,” Patrick said. “And I had enough momentum to go to the middle because I got a run on the car in front of me but I had to wait past the start-finish line. I lifted going into turn one and all I can say is that, you know, I didn’t try and do anything. I just found myself sideways in the middle of the corner and that was it.
“It’s just a shame because it always seems to be the case (on) those weekends when things start to be going better and I’ve had lots of people say, ‘You looked good in practice yesterday,’ and felt a lot better and (crew chief, Tony) Gibson did a great job and the crew did a good job. And I have an awesome pit road crew. I knew we were going to have a good day there. Things just go wrong. And days when you’re not fast, it seems like those aren’t the days that you get the bad luck. I don’t know. If I did something wrong, I apologize to everybody on my team and GoDaddy. It’s a shame.”
The series moves on to the fifth Chase race at their home track in Charlotte. Although it isn’t necessarily a home track for Patrick, having her crew close to their families can pay off greatly this weekend.
“I like Charlotte. It’s really nice for the crews because it’s a home race for them. They get to sleep in their own bed and a lot of their family and friends are there. So you want to give them a good performance,” she said.
With all of the festivities that come along with a race at Charlotte, Patrick will have her fair share of extra activities this weekend. With her hot pink car and firesuit for the month of October, it’s pretty easy to spot her out on the track.
Patrick will start 35th for tomorrow night’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
This week, I am taking “Earning Her Stripes” on the road and onto the track at Kansas Speedway!
Last weekend, the Monster Mile surely wasn’t nice to Patrick. After going a lap down after just 30 laps complete, her frustration seemed to get the best of her on the radio and out on the track. Apologizing to her team at the end, Dover is one of those races that Patrick would rather forget.
A few weeks ago, Patrick and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. joined country music artist Colt Ford as he filmed a music video for his latest single, “Drivin’ Around Song.” The video, shot in Mooresville, North Carolina, was released this week. Click here to watch!
This week, Patrick is back at Kansas Speedway for the third time. Sporting some new colors during the month of October, Patrick and GoDaddy are bringing awareness to breast cancer research by trading the neon green for florescent pink. GoDaddy will also donate $50,000 to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
Kicking off the weekend Thursday at Kansas Speedway, Patrick and the rest of the Sprint Cup Series drivers took part in a test session, trying out a new tire for the race weekend.
Friday was filled with practice sessions and qualifying. Finishing practice session 1 in P23, Patrick ran 14 laps with a top speed of 182.97. Qualifying later in the afternoon, Patrick placed the GoDaddy Chevrolet P29 with a speed of 182.039. Patrick’s significant other, and Rookie of the Year competitor will be starting 2nd next to Pole winner Kevin Harvick.