The Danistar had her best race since Daytona this past weekend at Fontana and headed into the off weekend on a high note but finishing 26th in the Auto Club 400 was probably not the highlight of Danica Patrick’s weekend.
Saturday night, Patrick and boyfriend Ricky Stenhouse Jr made the trip to Los Angeles to attend the Kid’s Choice Awards. Patrick was up for the Favorite Female Athlete Award against tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams and Olympic Gymnast Gaby Douglas. Patrick won the award two previous times and walked away with the Neon Orange Nickelodeon Blimp again on Saturday.
“This is a huge award for me,” Patrick said on stage. “Kids mean so much. When I meet you, when I see you at the racetrack and you cheer for me, it means more than anything else. It’s a huge honor next to obviously all the other girls in this category. They all kick butt.”
Dressed in a strapless turquoise dress, heels and a sleek ponytail, Patrick looked stunning next to Stenhouse’s jeans and cowboy boots. Very different then the neon green firesuit you can catch her in every Sunday.
When Sunday’s race rolled around, Patrick was back in focus. She started 40th in the Auto Club 400 after a shaky qualifying lap but that didn’t discourage her. Almost losing a lap early, a caution saved her and allowed the GoDaddy crew to make significant changes to her car. She gave valuable and useful feedback throughout the duration of the race giving Crew Chief Tony Gibson the information he needed to give her a car she loved.
Midway through the race, her car was almost golden. She, along with a few other drivers, were on a different pit sequence than most of the leaders and often lost a lap during stops but battled to keep her car in the mix. By the end of the race, her lap times were in the ranges of the top-10 to top-15 drivers. Ending P26 and one lap down wasn’t exactly what the GoDaddy.com team was hoping for, but it was still a positive day.
“The car started off a little bit loose, but once we dialed that in, it was decent,” Patrick said in a press release after the race. “At the end of the race, I really thought it was pretty good. So I felt better at the end of the race than I did in qualifying. We made big improvements. We all want better than 26th and that’s what we had today, and it will be better next time.”
With no race this weekend due to Easter, the Series heads to Martinsville April 7th. Patrick has never raced at the famed short track before and her start in next Sunday’s race will mark the first Cup start for a woman at The Paperclip. Other women have taken to the track in the lower series, the most recent being current Nationwide Series driver Johanna Long in the Truck Series just a few years ago.
Although this weekend doesn’t involve driving a racecar, Danica Patrick doesn’t get to spend the entire weekend off. She is one of the guest readers at the White House Easter Egg Roll on Monday April 1st. The Easter Egg Roll takes place on the South Lawn of the White House and promotes health and wellness, especially for kids. Seeing as Patrick tried to make time for the kids at the racetrack, being a part of the Easter Egg Roll seems quite fitting for this 31 year old.
There may not be a race this weekend, but that just means all of the excitement from Fontana will just be stronger at Martinsville, so tune in April 7th to see Danica Patrick and 42 other drivers take on one of the toughest short tracks on the circuit.