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.