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.