Danica
Patrick
2011
 

2011 IRL Race Schedule & Results and Standings
2011 NASCAR Nationwide Race Stats

2011 Snippets
News

 


Patrick sends message to fellow NASCAR drivers. She's done talkin'.

Snippets


Danica Patrick was gridded 9th, the second highest grid all year. The race was red flagged following a horrific crash involveing 15 drivers. Dan Weldon lost his life and Pippa, JR Hildebrand, and Will Power were injured. She ends the year ranked 10th.

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Danica Patrick gridded at Kansas (NASCAR Nationwide Series) and finshed on the lead lap in 15th for 43 cars.

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Danica Patrick gridded 14th at Kentucky. She finshed in 10th and moved into the 10th spot in championship points with one race to go.

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Danica Patrick gridded 23rd at Indy Japan where she won previously. She finshed in 11th.

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Danica Patrick hopes to start Sprint Cup career in Daytona 50

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Patrick gridded 23rd at Baltimore and finished 7th.

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Patrick gridded 25th at Sonoma and finished 21st, one lap down.

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Patrick may do the Indy 500 next year if the NASCAR schedules permit. However, she will be running a full NASCAR Nationwide schedule and probably 8 to 10 Sprint Cup races.

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Earnhardt: Patrick already successful in NASCAR She's gridded 25th at Montreal Nationwide Race. She finished 24th.

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Danica gridded 15th at New Hampshire and finished in 6th.

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Danica gridded 22nd at Edmonton and finished in 9th

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Danica started 21st and after being run into from behind, ended up 19th in Toronto in an accident filled race.

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Danica started on the outside of the pole at Iowa and finished 10th.

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Danica started 15th at the Milwaukee Mile and moved up 10 places to finish 5th.

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Danica started 10th in Race 1 at Texas and finished 16th. She drew the 20th spot in Race 2 and finished 8th.

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Congrats to Danica Patrick who started 16th in the NASCAR Nationwide Race at Chicagoland and finished in the top 10. Racing only 5 of 14 races, she currently ranks number 25 of 96 drivers. 

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Danica qualified 25th for the Indy500 and lead 10 laps of the race. She had to pit late in the race for tires and fuel and finished in the 10th spot.

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Danica was gridded 20th of 27 cars for the Long Beach Grand Prix and finished 7th.

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Danica started 22nd at Alabama. Later in the race she gained 4 positions on a great pit stop to take 3rd but steadily lost positions to finish 17th, next to last of the cars still running. She currently 16th in point standings after 2 races.

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Danica started 19th at St. Pete and finished 12th.

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Danica's been encouraged by preseason test sessions — as well as the confidence boost she's received from leaving the Nationwide Series ninth in points. Now it's back to Indy Cars for a while.

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Danica Patrick makes history with fourth-place finish from a 22nd place start at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the Nationwide Series. She keeps her 4th place position in the standings after three races.

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Danica started 20th and finished 17th in the second race of the season at Phoenix. After two races, she is ranked 4th amoung Nationwide Series competitors.

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Congratulations, Danica. She started 4th, later lead one lap and finished
14th out of 43 in the Nationwide race at Daytona today.
She's 7th in the Standings to start out the year.

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Patrick's 2011 Nationwide schedule finalized

News


Danica Patrick’s Team Penalized Post Phoenix Nationwide Race


NASCAR announced today penalties and fines to the No. 7 team (Danica Patrick’s team) that competes in the NASCAR Nationwide Series as a result of rule infractions at Phoenix International Raceway.

The No. 7 car was found to be in violation of Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing); 12-4-J (any determination by NASCAR officials that the race equipment used in the event does not conform to NASCAR rules); and 20A-2.3A (improperly attached weight) of the 2011 NASCAR Nationwide Series rule book. The infraction occurred during the race on Nov. 12.

As a result of the violations, crew chief Tony Eury Jr. has been fined $10,000 and placed on NASCAR probation until March 28, 2012.

Danica’s INDYCAR career leaves childhood dream unfulfilled


When the checkered flag falls at Las Vegas Motor Speedway this weekend and puts a wrap on the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season, it will also mark the end of an era for INDYCAR that has seen more than its share of ups and downs. When the 300 miles are complete on Sunday, so too will be the full-time INDYCAR career of Danica Patrick. Sadly, what started with a bang in 2005 is going out with more of a whimper in 2011.

When she burst onto the scene in 2005, Patrick had all the looks of a star-to-be. Her Rahal-Letterman Racing team was on top of their game having arrived at Indianapolis in May of that year as the defending 500 champions, and Danica had already begun to penetrate beyond the racing world and into mainstream media markets. When her fourth-place finish began to overshadow the run of 500 champion Dan Wheldon, though, people immediately wondered why she was so deserving of all the hype. More importantly, other media outlets began to ask the reactionary question, “When will Danica try her hand at NASCAR?”

While Danica’s popularity continued to soar outside of the IZOD IndyCar Series, those who followed the Series closely soon began to see a very different side of Danica. Following physical altercations with drivers at California in 2005 and Milwaukee in 2006, in addition to her well-publicized stomp down pit road at Michigan in 2006, many fans began to wonder if Danica was indeed the role model that they had hoped she would be. Frustrations and questions were only further expounded by her continued lack of consistently contending for race victories. More and more, Danica Patrick appeared to become less about INDYCAR racing and more about Danica Patrick. Even her victory at Motegi in 2008 did little to quell her critics, and though the “Anna Kournikova of racing” label was dropped, the feeling among many that she was more interested in exploiting her sex appeal than her racing talents was not.

When Patrick made her stock car debut at Daytona in 2010, most realized that it was no longer a matter of if but only when Danica would make the move to NASCAR full-time. After enduring an entire season of will-she-or-won’t-she in 2009 (in which she ironically finished a career-best fifth in the season points standings), many people grew tired of having so much attention and devotion heaped upon a driver that had only claimed a single victory over the course of five seasons (one that many to this day discount as a fuel-mileage victory). By the time the same antics played out in 2011, most in the INDYCAR Nation just wanted the make-believe saga to be over with so that everyone, particularly the tangent mainstream media, would move on and discuss more pressing matters. In many INDYCAR circles, the news of Danica’s departure was greeting with relief rather than frustration or sadness.

The truly sad part of the Danica Patrick INDYCAR story is that she could have been a really good driver in this Series if she had stayed her course from pre-Indy 2005. She may never have become a truly great driver, but she could have been a very good one who competed for several wins every year. There is little doubt that Danica has the skills to succeed in INDYCAR if put in the right position and truly devoting herself to her craft. Unfortunately, once Danica realized that she had become bigger than the Series itself, she lost her long-term focus and has been treading water now for several years. For the past two seasons, she has done an admirable job of juggling her INDYCAR and NASCAR schedules, but it has become painfully obvious that the fire just hasn’t been there for the open-wheel series. The parallels to Sam Hornish Jr.’s 2007 season are really uncanny. He was accused of having checked out for most of that year, and his disappointing results were used as either justification for or an indication of his desire to seek greener pastures. The Danica Patrick of 2010 and 2011 has been eerily similar.

There should also be no mistake that IZOD IndyCar Series owes Danica Patrick a large debt of gratitude for all she has done for this Series. Through some of its darkest days, Patrick was one of the few pieces of the INDYCAR puzzle that was recognized outside the paddock. Her presence, while becoming somewhat of a lightning rod within the INDYCAR Nation, brought thousands and thousands of new fans into the Series and injected life into a sport that was still reeling from more than a decade of tearing itself apart. Had Danica Patrick not been around in those years to be the public face of INDYCAR, it’s very difficult to imagine who would have stepped up and brought any attention to the sport. Danica did her best to execute these duties as well as her driving duties in the best possible manner, and though some fans mistook her at-track focus as a sign of disconnection from the fans, not many people truly realized the weight that she was bearing on a race-to-race basis. With hundreds of fans mobbing her with every move, it’s little wonder that she sometimes needed a bit of time to herself and for her team.

When Danica looks back on her INDYCAR career in 15 years, I fear that she will see it as being largely incomplete. From the time Danica first began to race go-karts, her dream was to win the Indianapolis 500 -- not just to race at Indianapolis or to be competitive there (and certainly not to drive a stock car around there!). She has had some terrific runs at the 500, and she definitely has the skill set needed to win it someday. However, it will never happen as a one-off NASCAR driver. Unless Danica’s Sprint Cup career is a complete disaster and she quickly returns to INDYCAR racing full-time as Dario Franchitti did, her childhood dream is now destined to go unfulfilled. Can the riches of NASCAR make her feel better about that? Only she can answer that question. Whatever it is that she seeks now, one can only hope that she doesn’t look back and regret her decision to lose focus on her INDYCAR career and ultimately walk away from it. Time will tell.
Source: indycarnation.indycar.com/exclusive-news/2011/10/13/danica-s-indycar-career-leaves-childhood-dream-unfulfilled

Danica Patrick on Achieving Your Dreams


“She’s a pistol,” exclaimed the teamster in the Mets cap. Just as I turned to say thanks I realized it wasn’t me he was referring to. Right then I caught my first in-person glimpse of my Go Daddy Super Bowl spot co-star, Danica Patrick. As she stepped out of her trailer, I felt like I had been inserted into one of those flicks from the 1980s. You know the ones where the girl walks in slow-mo out into a wind tunnel causing every man within a one-mile radius to drop everything and fall to his knees.

The racing prodigy, sex symbol, powerhouse of a half pint (she’s tiny — 5’2” at best) turned and made a beeline right over to me, extended her hand with a smile and said, “Hi. Danica. Nice to meet you.” As I reached back to shake “hello,” I instantly felt like the kid who just became buddies with the most popular girl in school.

That day and in every interaction we’ve shared since, she’s been gracious, motivational, and friendly, offering me everything from relationship counseling to investment advice, to moral support during my transition to daytime television. And of course, she gave me a tour of her No. 7 GoDaddy.com IndyCar, which might have been my highlight of 2011.

So, you can see why I wanted to talk with Danica for my interview series on inspiration and achieving dreams. Her words are honest, straightforward, and passionate. Enjoy.

Jillian Michaels: Hey buddy. The first thing I really want to get is a little history about how you got into the sport. I know you started as a kid right?

Danica Patrick: Yeah, I started racing go-karts when I was 10. They were just little five-horsepower brake engines, like lawn mower engines. So that’s the first kind of car I ended up driving. I started doing it because my dad was into racing. We used to go to a lot of races and watch. Then, my sister really wanted to do it. There was somebody in our neighborhood my sister’s age who raced go-karts, so we went down to check it out and thought it was kind of a fun family thing to do on the weekends. We were going to buy a pontoon boat, but that didn’t happen so then we bought go-karts. It was a pretty life-altering choice and purchase.

JM: Clearly. So now you started racing go-karts at 10 years old, but when you were 15 you went to train in Europe? What prompted that? When did you guys recognize that you had serious skill at this, like “you could be a professional racer” kind of skill? And how did Europe come about?

DP: I still wonder if I’m going to be a serious racecar driver…

JM: Ha! What are you talking about, dude! You’re kidding right? You have got to be kidding me? REALLY?!

DP: I don’t know if you feel the same, but no matter what you do, whether you try and prove it to someone else or not, I always try to prove to myself.

JM: Prove that you are great at what you do?

DP: Well, you know, if you have a bad day, weekend, or event, and you’re frustrated … You have to prove it to yourself because there are a lot of really talented people out there, and I feel like I’m my own worst critic. So okay, maybe I’ve made it to the big leagues.

JM: MAYBE!?

DP: Ha, okay, okay, I’m in the big leagues. To answer the first part of your question about heading to Europe, at the time I was racing go-karts and went to the Indy 500. I was there with Lyn St. James and I was just hanging out at the racetrack while she was practicing. I obviously was very young — only 14. And I clearly wasn’t on the racetrack but I was up in the suite and there was this British guy there. I was sitting at the bar ordering a kiddy cocktail and I started asking him a lot of questions about what it was like racing in Europe. I guess I asked all the right questions because two years later when I was 16 the people he worked with said they had followed my career for the last couple of years and would really love to talk with me about an opportunity. I remember when I was 14, I was told that I could learn more in England in a year than I could learn in five years in the states.

JM: You went to Europe without your family? Alone?

DP: Yep, I went and lived with these two girls, one of whom I had never met before and the other I had met for all of five minutes. I slept on their couch for a while. It sounds really dramatic! Like, I slept on a couch …

JM: It is, though. Trekking to Europe alone at 16 to figure things out for yourself is pretty dramatic.

DP: Eventually, after a couple of months, I moved into a bedroom that was the size of a shoebox. I was excited to be there, and probably the biggest thing is that my parents let me do it at 16. I was in high school, and I left high school half way through my junior year. That’s a pretty big stretch for a parent, especially [when your kid has] aspirations of becoming a professional athlete, which is not exactly the easiest thing to accomplish. I spent three years there and I learned a lot about racing.

Did I learn more there in one year then I would have learned in five years in the states? No, but I probably did learn about my life and being a responsible person. I learned a lot about people and what we are all capable of and the things to be careful of. I learned who to trust and how much to tell people. I feel lucky to have learned [early] about the kinds of things that would have been much more detrimental had I learned them in my twenties.

JM: Right. Wish I could say the same. I messed up a lot in my youth and my later years. And I’m still making those kinds of mistakes even now. Insert loud sigh here.

JM: So when did you technically “go pro” or join IndyCar or NASCAR? And, by the way, I’m sorry I’m confused. You were in both?

DP: I have not always been in both. I started getting paid when I was 19. That was the first year I would consider myself a professional. I started racing IndyCar in 2005. I did only IndyCar until last year, so 2010. 2010 was the first year I raced both IndyCar and NASCAR. And then this year I also raced IndyCar and NASCAR.

JM: So you started out in IndyCar in ’05 and that first year you were “Rookie of the Year.” How did that make you feel?

DP: It was a cool thing and it was good to achieve but, I don’t know, as a competitor you are always striving for the next thing. I just about won the Indy 500 my first year so I would sure have loved to carry that title as Indy 500 winner, but we live and learn and figure it out along the way. You don’t get it all right at the beginning, I suppose.

JM: When I first met you, I could not believe you were smaller than me, which I find utterly thrilling cause that doesn’t happen often. You are this little teeny person in this macho, male-driven sport. What’s that like for you? And how do you handle it?

DP: I don’t know any different. I have always been one of the only girls or the only girl, so it seems very normal to me. Working with guys is easy, too. They are very straight thinkers. What you think they are thinking, they’re thinking. If a pretty girl walks by they’re like, “Oh, that’s a hot chick,” and that’s what they’re thinking.

JM: I find that occasionally, male egos can be very fragile and when a woman comes in and starts kicking butt and taking names, things can get a little heated and hostile. You’ve kicked some butt, and I’ve seen them make excuses as to why you are better, saying things like, “Oh, well, she’s lighter than me.”

DP: I don’t think men are conditioned to be equal to women, but I think that’s changing. The equality mentality is there and it is slowly evolving over time. But I don’t think guys like being beat by girls. I don’t like being beat by girls!

JM: Dude, you don’t like getting beat, period. I don’t think you discriminate; you are pretty competitive all the way around.

DP: That’s true.

JM: What’s the average speed for NASCAR?

DP: Let’s take the Indy500. The average speed going around the Indianapolis speedway, which is a pretty flat track, is 170 mph.

JM: Have you had a serious accident?

DP: My worst accident was my very first IndyCar race. I was racing at Homestead in Miami in the very south of Florida, and I was running in the top 10. A driver decided he was going to go way up high, got loose and caused an accident. I was going low to avoid it but a car that had broken suspension was slowly coming down the track above. He clipped my right rear tire and sent me straight up into the wall, so I pretty much hit head on and then my car caught fire. I don’t really remember any of it, so I’m pretty sure I lost consciousness. They shut down the track and the footage shows me getting out of the car with the ambulance in front of me. But I turn around and start drunkenly stumbling away from it. So they redirect me, take me into the ambulance, and get me to the medical center at the track. The first thing I remember was waking up, opening my eyes up, and having a bright light above my head. I was freaking out. Then my mom came up and she said, “You had a little accident but you’re going to be okay.” And the next thing I was thinking was, “Um, can I feel my legs?” At the same time, there was a priest over my head as well, so it was a very surreal experience.

JM: I can’t imagine anything being more terrifying. Your first pro race, you’re on the track, and you have an experience like that. That’s insane. You almost die and think you’re paralyzed! I wouldn’t have been able to get back in the car! How on earth did you get back in the car?

DP: I guess the fear is always out there. And the older I get the more worried I get about wellbeing. As you get older, you witness people get sick and you’re not a 15 year old anymore where you feel like you have a million years left to live. You get married, you think about your significant other, you think about your parents, you think about your grandparents that get sick. You think more about the wellbeing part of your life. But I wasn’t thinking about it as much back then.

JM: So, no terror, no PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) getting back in the car?

DP: No, I think that’s just part of it. You can’t drive scared. You won’t take the right chances or push as hard as you could if you’re scared.

JM: What do you do when fear comes up? Or do you have this intrinsic faith in your abilities and an inherent sense that what will be will be? What would you say to someone who is contending with fear? I had a motorcycle accident and haven’t ridden the same since. And I had a bad surfing accident and never got back on the board. So there’s definitely something about you that’s unique which allows you to overcome fear or manage fear in this way.

DP: Yeah, I also became Catholic when I got married and I think that faith of putting your fate in someone else’s hands and hoping and praying for the best is very powerful. You say I’m going to do everything I can and I’m going to be as smart as possible, but the future is not all in my control anymore. Whether I pray for safety or angels, or to be smart, I think that’s something that helps me. However, at the end of the day, I’m sure it’s just something inside of me from a young age that helped me to not be scared. I’m scared of a lot of other things though! I’m scared of heights, bugs, the dark, water — I mean there is a lot of stuff I’m afraid of that is elementary stuff, but for some reason I’m able to get back on the bike, as they say.

JM: It’s interesting that you say that your parents were meant to buy a pontoon boat and then ended up buying go-karts. I’ve noticed with a lot of people like you, people who are top of their game and considered “super achievers,” there’s always an element of fate that comes into play. Do you believe in that at all?

DP: Sure! I definitely do. I think that we all have our own sort of path and plan that’s there and it’s a matter of making good decisions along the way. It’s about responding to the signs. If someone doesn’t call you back about an offer on a pontoon boat, you chose another route. The law of least resistance, you go where it’s making sense and where the opportunities are.

JM: What about dreaming? Obviously you developed a love for racing despite the way you fell into it. Do you believe people should pursue a dream at all costs?

DP: I don’t force anything but once the journey began I always dreamt really big about where I would be and what I would do. When you think big like that it inevitably guides your actions in that direction. The things you do are in your mind, even if it’s subconsciously, so I always kept the big picture in my head.

JM: What would you say to a woman who struggles with feeling ashamed or guilty about thinking big or having dreams or desires? So many feel they need to constantly sacrifice their own needs for everyone else’s — parents, spouse, kids?

DP: I would say that you should be around people who encourage and support big dreams. These are really important things in your life and if somebody is not going to stand behind you on those big ideas and aspirations — things that take some sort of bravery and confidence to have — then maybe you need to rethink that relationship. What are the motives of the people around you? Are they hindering you? Are you communicating accurately what you want and is it really what you want? And do you have the right amount of passion for it?

JM: You must have a ton of passion because when I went around the track with Mario Andretti, he pulled about 160mph, which is 70mph slower than you have driven. I was nauseous and I could barely turn my head from side to side because of the g-force. How in the world do you drive that car for hours at a time, control it, and be aware of your surroundings? How do you physically train for that and how do you do it on the road?

DP: Usually when I’m on the road, for the most part, I’m doing my job. I’m participating in the physical activity that I’m training for. That’s one of the good things about being an athlete — when you travel you are doing what you are training for. But, when I’m not, I try to do a lot of running. I think that’s the easiest cardiovascular activity. All you need is a pair of running shoes.

JM: So you train endurance for racing?

DP: Yes. I also train strength as well. Three days a week, I lift. I’ll do one lower-body day and two upper-body days. I’ll throw that in with cardio, which is everything from long, steady runs to shorter interval runs or a bike ride for a couple of hours. I do all kinds of different cardio activity just to shake it up. I usually take about a month off at the end of the year just to get away from the possibility of over-training, but my body is built for it. I’ve been doing this for 20 years.

JM: Talk to me about the mental discipline. When I was on that track at IndyCar, it had to have been 118 degrees. You are in a car, in a fire suit with a thermal wrapped around your head and you can’t get out for four hours. You can’t use the bathroom. You can’t eat anything. I was in the car for five minutes and I thought I was going to die. The mental discipline that it requires to put your body through that kind of suffering is surreal. How do you prepare for that?

DP: In the summer you have to be aware of dehydration, which is probably the biggest concern. You train for the physical. You train for endurance. But there are not a lot of ways to train for heat exhaustion. Especially in NASCAR, there’s very little air movement in the car because you’re in a closed cockpit. It’s very hard to train for that sort of thing so you just have to prepare your body right by eating or drinking the right amount at the right time.

JM: Where do you go in your head when you are physically miserable? Do you have some sort of way to tune out the pain? I would die in that car sweating and feeling claustrophobic like that.

DP: Well, you’re pretty focused on what you are doing so the heat thing isn’t top of mind. The temperature inside of a stock car can get to be around 140 degrees. You drink as often as possible and you try to relax your body. There’s nothing else that you can do. You deal with it and remind yourself to focus on what you are doing. It’s mind over matter.

JM: That’s truly awesome. I will be watching!

JM: Now, these next questions are real simple and straightforward. What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?

DP: Every time I went out in a go-kart, my dad said to have fun. I think that is really good advice. It reminds you to do something you love to do and have fun at.

JM: What are you most proud of?

DP: The funny thing is it’s probably what I think about least, but when I look back, the coolest thing I can think of is setting records. A record is a record. There’s a first time for everything. Records like being the first woman to win an IndyCar race, or in Las Vegas in the Nationwide Series, becoming the highest finishing a female in a NASCAR race [4th place]. I’ve only done a few races and haven’t competed in a full NASCAR season yet, but to have had the highest finish for a female in history [the record was previously set in 1940 for 5th place] — those are cool statistics to have. I have no idea what the records are until I break them. Then, after, I think to myself, “What?” Being the highest finishing female in Indy and NASCAR! You are looking back on the whole history of something and you have done it better than anyone else. That’s pretty cool!

JM: Who is your hero and why?

DP: I don’t really have a hero. I feel like I learn from everyone I’m around, whether it’s my dad or my husband, my mom or my sister, you or anybody else. I like to hear their stories, get to know them, and ask questions. That’s how you learn. I don’t ever want to be like one person. I like to take away the best parts of everyone I meet.

JM: That’s a great answer. What’s your biggest regret?

DP: Probably a really generic answer, but I’m a really fortunate, lucky person. I’m successful and I have a great family. I think that if I were to go back and change something it would change the course of all of that, so I wouldn’t change anything. But perhaps I might have changed one thing. At my first Indy500, I was a little short on fuel and I saved fuel so I could finish the race, but looking back I would have taken that chance at greatness. I would have much rather run out of fuel in the lead and had that chance to win then given it up.

JM: You would have risked it all?

DP: Yeah, I would have risked it all for sure. It’s the biggest race in the world and worth taking the risk.

JM: Okay, last two, what’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to overcome?

DP: Getting people around me to see that I had talent and getting them to invest in me. Especially being a girl in racing, which is such a male-dominated sport, it took time to get people to believe in me and give me the faith, support, crew, equipment… the right everything. We know it takes the right “everything” to make it work. It’s about making everyone around you believe that you can do it. That was probably one of the hardest things.

JM: Last question. What would you say to the female reader in general, what’s your parting shot to her about living her healthiest, happiest life?

DP: I feel it’s very important to find what you love to do. I think that’s one of the hardest things probably to figure it out. Gosh, I mean how often is a girl going to get out there, drive a go-kart, and figure out that’s what she has a passion for? You have to be open-minded and try a lot of things. It’s about finding that thing and believing that you can do anything with that. Anything is possible, and most of the time I feel we are the ones who hold ourselves back, so just go for it!
Source: www.everydayhealth.com/healthy-living/jillian-michaels-interviews-danica-patrick-on-achieving-your-dreams.aspx?xid=aol_eh-gen_3_200111010&aolcat=HLT&icid=maing-grid10%7Chtmlws-main-bb%7Cdl15%7Csec1_lnk3%7C104274

Danica Patrick ready for full-time rigors of Nationwide Series


Danica Patrick says she’s ready for change.

Yes, there will be some emotional moments when she makes her final start as a full-time IndyCar Series driver next weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, but Patrick says she’s ready for the demands of a full Nationwide Series schedule—not to mention a handful of Sprint Cup appearances.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” Patrick said Friday at Kansas Speedway, where she was competing in the Kansas Lottery 300. “I’m excited. I’m ready for change. There will be definitely things and people that I miss about IndyCar. I’m sure that, especially on frustrating weekends, I’ll think that, up here in IndyCar, maybe it’s this much easier.

“But I’m excited about the change, and I’m not afraid of change.”

Patrick won’t decide on her Sprint Cup schedule until after the release of the Nationwide schedule, expected next week.

“If there’s no schedule out, I can’t make a decision,” Patrick said. “I’m obviously going to try to work on companion weekends—or maybe a stand-alone weekend will be easier for me to not confuse things. But I don’t know which ones they’re going to be yet.”

Nevertheless, it’s a good bet that Patrick will make her Cup debut in the Daytona 500 at a track where she led 13 laps and finished 10th in her last Nationwide outing. Patrick will drive for Stewart-Haas Racing in the Cup Series and for JR Motorsports in Nationwide.

A start at newly repaved Phoenix International Raceway, Patrick’s hometown track, isn’t out of the question either. JR Motorsports driver Aric Almirola tested a Hendrick Motorsports Cup car at Phoenix on Tuesday and Wednesday, as Hendrick brought an electronic fuel injection car to the test of the reconfigured track, in addition to the Chevrolets driven by Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Mark Martin.

The Cup series is expected to debut fuel-injected engines in the Daytona 500, according to NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton.
Source: aol.sportingnews.com/nascar/story/2011-10-08/danica-patrick-ready-for-full-time-rigors-of-nationwide-series?icid=maing-grid10%7Chtmlws-main-bb%7Cdl4%7Csec3_lnk1%7C102788

Danica's new chapter begins sooner than later


For most of her career she has been synonymous with cars outfitted with side pods and nose cones, vehicles that emit an insectile buzz rather than a throaty, animalistic roar. Danica Patrick long has been the queen of the IndyCar circuit, its top draw and most popular driver, as much a part of that racing discipline as brick start/finish lines, Brazilian winners, or victorious swigs of milk. Next weekend, though, that chapter comes to an end when Patrick competes in her last open-wheel race -- for now -- and her full-time NASCAR career begins at last.

Technically, her first full-time NASCAR campaign kicks off next year, when she takes over JR Motorsports' No. 7 car for the entire Nationwide Series schedule, with a handful of Sprint Cup starts thrown in. But make no mistake about it -- once the IndyCar season finale next weekend at Las Vegas is complete, Patrick is all stock car, all the time. Mentally, she already may be there; prior to her Nationwide start Saturday at Kansas Speedway, she sounded as if the shift to NASCAR couldn't come soon enough. But Patrick's next three starts are the last three of the season, and that triumvirate of Texas, Phoenix and Homestead serve as a crucial jumping-off point toward next year.

"Texas is the starting point," crew chief Tony Eury Jr. said. "We've got to go hard at Texas, got to go hard at Homestead. Phoenix is going to be different for everybody. But that's it. Got to go. I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be fun. Her attitude, she's a whole lot smarter than she was when she got here two years ago. To get in there week in and week out, we'll get better."

Daytona next season certainly will get all the attention, particularly if Patrick attempts the Daytona 500 in a Stewart-Haas car. But Texas, really, is where it all begins. Texas will mark the first time Patrick comes to a NASCAR track without any intention of switching cars in the near future, the first time JR Motorsports will be able to prepare the No. 7 for just one driver rather than the seven who have shared it this year. Yes, the Indianapolis 500 is out there, and everyone expects Patrick to try to find room in her NASCAR schedule to make a run at the one race she still wants to win most. But for all practical purposes, once Patrick arrives in Fort Worth, all the distractions are left behind.

Those last three races will be a time to fine-tune for what Patrick hopes is a run at the Nationwide championship in 2012. Eury said the No. 7 team will focus on small things, like getting on and off pit road under a green flag, which they plan to have videotaped so they can study them during the winter.

"We have three weeks building into next year, so we're going to try to learn as much as we can, as hard as we can to just build momentum going into next year," Eury said. "We feel really good about what we've got going to Daytona, but we really want to be focused in on like [Fontana] and Phoenix. The first 10 races are everything for her. Her goal is going to be trying to run for the championship, so I've told her the first 10 races are going to be everything. We've got to come out of the gate [with] top-fives, top-10s. She's got to have enough confidence in the cars so we can make that happen."

Patrick has made 115 career starts on the IndyCar circuit since her debut in 2005, winning once in Japan, and twice coming tantalizingly close to victory in the Indianapolis 500. Given how much of her racing life has been dedicated to that discipline, it would seem only natural for her to be a little wistful at this point, with her final event as a full-time member of the series only days away. She's not. Asked at Kansas if she had thought at all about next week's looming IndyCar farewell, Patrick sounded like someone who mentally already had shifted gears.

"Not really," she said. "I think I've had a nice transition over these two years to adapt and to really feel good about my decision and transitioning over to NASCAR. And it really has been a transition. It hasn't been one to the next, it's been a transition. I think that's helped it, and I'm really looking forward to it. I'm ready for change. There will be definitely things and people that I miss about IndyCar. I'm sure especially on frustrating weekends I'll think, well, when I came here in IndyCar it was much easier. I'm excited about the change, and I'm not afraid of change. I think it's going to be fun."

Translation: Are we there yet? That sense of anticipation has to be heightened by the improvement Patrick had made in the Nationwide car this season, and her progression from a driver who struggled to stay on the lead lap to someone who finished fourth at Las Vegas -- best ever for a female driver in NASCAR's national divisions -- and recorded 10th-place results at Chicagoland and Daytona (2011 results). Just imagine what the might be capable of once she sheds the burden of her part-time schedule, and that car-switching hopscotch that's likely held her back more than anything else. After next weekend, that tactic becomes a thing of the past.

"It's going to make it a lot easier," Eury concedes. There are also the intangibles, like a level of camaraderie in the NASCAR garage area with which Patrick seems completely enamored. And limited as they are, she even likes the NASCAR testing rules better, important because she's likely to do a lot of it in a stock car in the coming months.

"What are the rules for testing in these cars? Can't go to tracks that you race at, but pretty much it's open, right? Which is much better than IndyCars, so I have a feeling it will help me prepare a little bit more," she said. "In IndyCar we have so many strict rules with mileage and tire allotments. There are many times we go to a test, and you get 100 miles and two sets of tires, and you went all that way for two sets of tires, and God forbid you flat-spot one. I think that will be better. I think the testing rules are better for me in NASCAR, and they'll allow me to test a little bit more often. But there obviously will be a lot of tracks I haven't been to before, so that will be a challenge."

No question, the challenges will still be there, even once Patrick becomes so ensconced in NASCAR that the terminology and pit-road procedures become second nature. But for now, it's time for one chapter in her racing career to end, and a new one to begin -- sooner than most think.

"I think she's ready to move on," Eury said. "Definitely [the Indianapolis 500] was her big deal over there. She really wanted to win that race, and still does, if she can make things happen. She's ready to come over here. She knows this is part of her future. She's eager to get over here and get going on it."
Source: nationwide.nascar.com/nationwide-series/news/111008/dcaraviello-dpatrick-new-chapter/index.html

Patrick takes stock in her career move to NASCAR


2012 plans: Full-time move to Nationwide for JRM; limited Cup slate with SHR

NASCAR full time in 2012, had Brooke Patrick not stepped away from the family go-kart nearly 20 years ago.

On Thursday, Patrick confirmed plans to take the next step in her career -- one which began in the Midwest, then to England as a teenager, and then a triumphant return to racing's heartland and the Indianapolis 500.

And now, her focus turns to NASCAR. Sitting alongside Bob Parsons, CEO and founder of GoDaddy, Patrick made it official Thursday: She will run the entire Nationwide Series schedule next season for JR Motorsports. In addition, she'll compete in between eight and 10 Sprint Cup Series races for Stewart-Haas Racing.

Patrick said climbing out of the ARCA car at Daytona in 2010 was "the most fun I had ever had in a race car." So making the transition to stock cars was the next natural evolution in her career.

"The experience was something I've really, really enjoyed," Patrick said. "The time is now. The opportunity is now. Bob and GoDaddy have made that possible. I want to do it.

"I don't want to wait years. I want to do it now. And I'm lucky enough to have a sponsor that will stand behind me and allow me to go."

NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France welcomed Thursday's announcement.

"We are pleased Danica Patrick has chosen to race full time in NASCAR in 2012," France stated. "She has demonstrated a strong desire to compete and NASCAR provides the best opportunity to race against the top drivers in the world with the largest and most loyal fan base in motorsports on a week-to-week basis.

"Danica has shown solid improvement in NASCAR and we believe her decision to run full time in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, with additional races in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, will be exciting for our fans and a great challenge for her."

As to whether she'll make her Cup debut in the 2012 Daytona 500, Patrick left the door open.

"We're definitely considering that, but the schedule right now for the Sprint Cup races next year is not set," Patrick said. "It'll probably be about eight to 10 races. But the actual races themselves have not been chosen yet."

Whatever those races turn out to be, it appears it won't be long before she is running all of them on NASCAR's premier stage.

"We're very excited to have Danica Patrick and Go Daddy join Stewart-Haas Racing in 2012 for a limited NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule with the intention of us running her full time in Sprint Cup in 2013," team co-owner Tony Stewart stated. "We're proud of the fact she wants to come and be a part of Stewart-Haas Racing and what we've built with Ryan Newman and myself and all of our partners. Having Danica and Go Daddy as a combination at SHR is something we're really looking forward to."

In 1992, 8-year-old Brooke decided she'd like to try racing go-karts. It was a short-lived adventure, as she crashed four times in one race. So Danica climbed in as her replacement -- and has been hooked on racing ever since.

Patrick was anything but an immediate success at it. In fact, she admits she wasn't much better than her sister.

"In my first race in go-karts, I was lapped within six laps by the competition," Patrick said in a 2002 interview. "I knew I would have to concentrate, improve and be determined. But racing is something I wanted to do once I drove that kart for the first time."

However, Patrick stuck with it, improved as the season went on and finished second in her age group. The following year, Patrick finished second in her region and was fourth in the national Yamaha Sportsman class. And in 1994, Patrick won her first World Karting Association national championship.

She moved up in class and by 1996, was winning with regularity. As a 14-year-old, she dominated the Yamaha Junior and Restricted Junior classes, winning 39 of 49 feature races. Patrick also attended a driving school run by Lyn St. James -- the second woman to drive in the Indy 500 -- who invited her to the Brickyard in 1997 to watch the race and meet other influential people in the sport.

The advice Patrick received? One, make the switch from go-karts to open-wheeled cars. Two, go to England. And at 16, Patrick left her family and began competing in the Formula Vauxhall Winter Series.

Running the entire series in 1999, Patrick finished ninth. That gave her the confidence to advance to the British Zetek Formula Ford Series the following season, where she finished second at Brands Hatch -- the best performance by an American in the history of the event.

She also caught the eye of Indy 500 winner Bobby Rahal, who was scouting young drivers for the Jaguar Formula 1 team he was managing. He was impressed enough that when she returned to the U.S., he signed her to a development deal with his Rahal Letterman Racing Indy-car team.

In 2002, Patrick got her first taste of what was to come when she tested a Busch Series car for ppc Racing. The following season, she raced in the Toyota Atlantic Series, finishing third in the points. Patrick matched that result in 2004, scoring 10 top-five finishes in 12 races.

At the end of the season, Rahal decided to promote her to a full-time ride in the Indy Racing League. And in 2005, Patrick made her IRL debut at Homestead, finishing 15th. Three races later, she scored her first top-five finish with a fourth at Motegi, Japan. And she became the first woman to lead a lap in the Indianapolis 500 when she nearly made a late-race fuel strategy gamble pay off, eventually settling for fourth and rookie of the year honors.

Patrick moved to Andretti Green Racing beginning in 2007 and one year later, became the first female driver to win an IRL race when she captured the Indy Japan 300 at Motegi, topping off her tank during the final caution and then conserving enough fuel to make it to the checkered flag.

She accepted her newest challenge in 2010 when she made her stock-car debut in the ARCA race at Daytona, then competed in 13 Nationwide Series races.

"The thing you see in Danica right away is how determined she is to be good at what she does. She's very dedicated to taking the time and effort to make the transition from Indy cars to stock cars," Stewart stated. "She has talent, she has the right mindset and she has the proper drive and determination. It doesn't matter who it is you're looking for, those are the key attributes that you look for in a driver, and Danica's got them."

So far in 2011, Patrick has one top-five and three top-10 finishes in seven Nationwide starts.

"We're thrilled with Danica Patrick's decision to join us for the 2012 season and looking forward to seeing her behind the wheel of a NASCAR Nationwide Series car on a consistent basis," stated Matt Jauchius, chief marketing and strategy officer for series sponsor Nationwide Insurance. "Her presence will continue to make our series stronger and more competitive. She has proven to raise awareness levels of our sport, sponsors and competitors, and that's good for everyone involved."

NASCAR's gain is IndyCar's loss.

"Danica has always been a great ambassador for IndyCar, and there is no doubt she has left a positive impression on our sport," IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard stated. "She has touched millions of fans and many that were new to motorsports. Danica attracted a fan base that every athlete and sports property in the world would love to have.

"We should give her a great farewell the rest of this season as she opens a new page in her career and wish her continued success with her new direction. "

Rahal put it best when he was asked if Patrick should be considered as just another pretty face.

"Danica shakes your hand and, crunch, it's like a truck driver," Rahal said. "That's the yin and yang of Danica. The exterior is nice and pretty -- and underneath she is as tough as steel."
Source: nationwide.nascar.com/nationwide-series/news/110825/dpatrick-full-time-nascar-2012/index.htm

Eury looks forward to full-time season with Patrick


Danica is equally pleased with 'good ol' southern boy,' says he understands her

But this weekend at Bristol, he's got a double reason to grin. Friday he was working on the No. 7 Chevrolet with promising newcomer Josh Wise, one day after Danica Patrick and sponsor GoDaddy.com announced a 2012 full-season Nationwide Series program in that car.

Eury, who focuses all of his attention on the competition side of the business, hasn't hesitated to praise Wise, an open-wheel graduate whose stock-car future is undetermined.

But he's almost inside-out in anticipation of having a shot at a NASCAR championship with Patrick, who will finish her 2011 IndyCar Series schedule before embarking on a stock-car career.

"I think it'll be a blast," Eury said of the deal. "I'm glad it all worked out and that's kinda what I told them from the beginning. I didn't want to know much about [the negotiations]. I just let it go."

Eury said he sent Patrick a message Thursday "telling her I was tickled to death, happy about it."

"We've just got to make sure that me and this race team are up to the task," Eury said. "And let's go do it."

Patrick is equally pleased with the only stock car crew chief she's ever known

"He's been really great -- a really talented guy," Patrick said. "He's just like a good ol' southern boy. He gets really serious when you're in the moment, but he's a heckuva lot of fun out of that.

"He gets everyone to work really hard around him, and I think he's understood me really well. I feel really lucky to have had such experience on my side for those first times that I've driven in a stock car."

The No. 7 has run full Nationwide schedules with a cornucopia of drivers the past two seasons, including 20 races by Patrick.

Eury's looking forward to the stability of working with just one driver.

"We've had different drivers in and out, so to go with some consistency, it'll be easier to come up with setups and tune on them," Eury said. "That's the thing about having the same driver, all year. When you do have [different] drivers you do learn other ways that people look at things, how other drivers are manipulating set-ups and stuff.

"That's interesting in itself, because you're not stuck in one [mode]. It'll be neat to have a little bit more consistency."

In addition to running full-time in Nationwide, Patrick said Thursday that she plans to compete next season in eight to 10 Cup Series races for Stewart-Haas Racing. Eury said there have been no discussions about him being the crew chief for Patrick's Cup races -- though he also said he'd be willing to try anything.

Eury also had plenty to say about the balance of 2011 -- in which Patrick has five more stock-car races scheduled. She'll race on the weekend of the Chase for the Sprint Cup cutoff at Richmond, then prepare for Kansas, Texas, Phoenix and Homestead.

"It makes those races more important [now that we know we have a full schedule in 2012], but I wouldn't say it puts a different spin on them," Eury said. "They're important because, now you're really focused on making sure you come out of the box with her strong, in 2012, like we did this year."

At the beginning of 2011, when Patrick ran the first four races before going back to Indy cars, she was ninth in the championship when she took her first break.

"We've got to have another good start like that, so we're going to make damned sure that we take full advantage of everything we do," Eury said. "We'll try to get some more testing in before the end of the year at some different tracks -- kinda like we took baby steps this year."

Eury said there's a rumored Nationwide race in 2012 at Rockingham Speedway, "so we might schedule a test there, and we're going to be going to some new tracks for her, like Darlington, so we need to be prepared for that."

NASCAR confirmed Friday, that under current rules, no testing is allowed during the year at tracks where the three national series compete. If Rockingham was put on the schedule, probably no testing would be allowed there, either. However, the Nationwide Series typically runs open practice days before new venues, or new surfaces are used -- such as an open practice scheduled in November on Phoenix International Raceway's new surface.

On Thursday, Patrick said she was still uncertain about the 2012 Indy 500.

Eury thought a moment about NASCAR's typical schedule during the month of May and instantly bought into the idea of Patrick attempting the one open-wheel race that means the most to her.

"I think it would go pretty easy," Eury said. "The biggest thing you'd be looking at would be qualifying [for Indy] the week before, when we're in Iowa. I know it's a dream of hers -- that's where she grew up.

"It'd be the same thing as Dale Earnhardt Jr. being here, having never won the Daytona 500 and deciding he wanted to go run Indy cars. [Winning the Daytona 500] would always be something he wanted to do. It's the same thing [for Patrick] -- just backwards.

"That's where she come from, it's the biggest race of the year and it's always something she wanted to do. So if she wants to do it, it's all in the [hands of] the powers that be wanting to make it happen."
Source: nationwide.nascar.com/nationwide-series/news/110826/tony-eury-jr-dpatrick-nationwide-full-time/index.html

IndyCar says Danica Patrick's departure 'doesn't hurt us'


She insists her popularity isn't the only thing putting eyes on the Izod IndyCar Series, but there's no denying Danica Patrick has boosted attendance and television ratings in a series desperate for both.

Danica Patrick, pictured at a Chicago Bears game in late September, doesn't think her departure from IndyCar will diminish the series and she hopes to return to run "multiple" Indy 500s.

Now that Patrick has one race left in her seven-year IndyCar run before joining NASCAR full time in 2012, officials and drivers wonder about her significance on a series stressed by low ratings and ticket sales.

They also wonder who, if anyone, will replace her.

The TV rating for the 2005 Indianapolis 500 was a 6.5 when Patrick, then a rookie, took the lead late in the race. The ratings in the series' premier race have steadily declined to a low of 3.6 in 2010, a year after her best 500 finish, possible evidence that Patrick's influence on ratings and attendance wasn't as substantial as once thought.

Patrick supports that theory, saying her departure won't hurt IndyCar, nor will her move to NASCAR dramatically boost its ratings or attendance.

"The IndyCar Series is not just me running around," she says. "If it was, it would be extremely boring. It takes personalities and story lines to maintain interest. NASCAR has been very successful without me. Just because I'm going there now doesn't mean it's going to succeed or fail because of me. The same goes for the IndyCar Series."

IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard acknowledges Patrick's presence "was able to bring a different demographic, different than your purist or traditionalist," but thinks the series will survive without the driver who has one win in 115 races entering the Oct. 16 finale in Las Vegas.

"It helps NASCAR," Bernard says, "but it doesn't hurt us." (Editors's note: What an arrogant man. Shades of Formula 1.)

In fact, it might help some of the IndyCar's most successful drivers gain recognition.

"There was always that kind of disconnect with having Danica in the series," says two-time defending series champion Dario Franchitti, who is married to actress Ashley Judd and is best-positioned to replace Patrick as IndyCar's most marketable driver. "We had a bit of the same thing that NASCAR has with Dale Earnhardt Jr., in that the most popular driver in the series doesn't necessarily win races."

Most of IndyCar's races are shown on Versus, where race ratings hover around 0.5. The series has long been criticized for having a disjointed and incoherent marketing plan, relying on Patrick's fame to hold up sales and ratings.

Three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves disagrees, saying. "The marketing side of IndyCar is well-planned, and we have enough drivers with personality to attract people. We won't be losing anything in terms of the number of people who watch our races."

Bernard thinks IndyCar needs to rely on its established stars to attract fans in the future.

"With one more win, Dario goes right alongside A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti, Rick Mears, Bobby Unser, Al Unser Sr. and Al Unser Jr as one of the greatest IndyCar racers of all-time," Bernard says. "At some point people are going to pay attention to how great this guy is."

As for Patrick's future? She says she would like to return to compete in "multiple" Indy 500s if her NASCAR schedule allows it and "if it's with a strong team."

"I feel like I've done well at Indy and have great memories from there," she says. "I'd like to continue that if possible."
Source: www.usatoday.com/sports/motor/indycar/story/2011-10-05/IndyCar-says-Danica-departure-will-not-affect-series/50671394/1

Danica's New Ride


Danica Patrick is a girly-girl, but that doesn’t stop her from kicking butt on the racetrack at 200 miles an hour. The IndyCar driver, whose racing career started with go-karts when she was a child, has parlayed a successful career in auto racing into a multifaceted business résumé, one that includes swimsuit model for Sports Illustrated, Tissot watch ambassador and GoDaddy.com spokeswoman.

“There are two pretty different sides to me,” Patrick says while getting ready for a recent Glamour magazine event at Barnard College.“I love to get clothes from stylists and get my hair and makeup done. I really enjoy both parts and I’m lucky to be able to drive race cars and still get made up. It’s a win-win.”

Patrick was in New York a few days after her sixth-place finish at the inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix race, where she managed to battle her way up from 23rd place. It won’t be long, however, before she moves beyond the IndyCar circuit and races NASCAR full-time. For the past two years, she’s been racing in about a dozen NASCAR events as well as the Indy series. But after seven years focusing on Indy, she’s ready for a change.

“It’s like starting over again,” she says, excited about the challenges of racing in the NASCAR Nationwide Series full time in 2012.

Patrick has had success in a sport where few women venture, but she says the men she races against never say anything about her photo shoots or swimsuit glam shots. “I don’t know, maybe they feel awkward.”

She also speculates that other women don’t gravitate toward race car driving because they aren’t exposed to it at a young age, as she was.

“They grow up playing basketball, baseball and football in gym class, but if they want to do something beyond that, it’s hard,” she says. “They need to buy a go-kart and find a track — that’s something that tends to be in your family.”

Her father raced snowmobiles, midgets and motocross, she says, so racing is in her blood.

But so is fashion. Though Patrick is intent on racing for at least the next several years, fashion design could be in her future. Right now, she has deals with Tissot for watches and William Rast for sunglasses, but has decided against an apparel sponsor. She says fashion firms have approached her about lending her name to apparel, but the timing hasn’t been right.

“I would like to either do a joint line with a designer, or —my favorite idea — do my own line,” she says. “But that’s down the road. I would have to give it the right amount of effort, choose the materials, the cuts, that’s what will make it a success.”

So for now, she’ll stick with other designer’s wares. When she’s not in the public eye, she leans toward jeans, T-shirts and ballet flats or flip-flops, or BCBG dresses. For more formal occasions, she prefers outfits with “unique lines and odd angles.” Most recently, she’s gravitated toward Alexander McQueen and Gucci.

“I like a unique look,” she says.
Source: www.wwd.com/eye/people/danicas-new-ride-5258165

IndyCar set to race with no Danica


For seven years, Danica Patrick has reigned as the most popular driver in the IndyCar Series and one of the most marketable drivers in all of motorsports.

She's appeared in Super Bowl ads for sponsor Go Daddy. She's posed for photo spreads in Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue and FHM magazine. Time magazine named Patrick to its list of the world's 100 most influential people, and People deemed her among the world's most beautiful.

Patrick will be taking her driving abilities and star power to NASCAR full-time in 2012, meaning the Kentucky Indy 300 on Sunday will be Patrick's last IndyCar race at Kentucky Speedway.

"Most people probably think of it as a negative for IndyCar," IndyCar chief executive officer Randy Bernard said this week. "I don't look at it as much as a negative for IndyCar as a positive for NASCAR.

"She does bring a different demographic. But if you've been to our events, she has a nice appeal with the fan base, but it's not our only fan there."

Patrick has been an asset for the IndyCar brand since she arrived in 2005. But the sanctioning body has been wise not to build the IndyCar Series around her alone, a motorsports marketing executive said.

"You've got drivers like Helio (Castroneves). Dario Franchitti. Will Power. These are guys with personalities and recognition," said Mike Mooney, vice president of motorsports for The Marketing Arm. "The league is smart in building upon multiple personalities because they know a driver may (leave) through injury, through attrition, through sponsorship, through a switch like Danica's just decided to make. That will happen."

Castroneves is a three-time Indianapolis 500 winner who in 2007 achieved broad mainstream appeal when he won ABC's Dancing with the Stars. The 36-year-old Brazilian would seem poised to become IndyCar's most popular and marketable driver.

He thinks Patrick's departure is an opportunity for IndyCar to promote even more of its drivers.

"You have great cars, great drivers and teams now. Everything is merged together," Castroneves said. "I do believe you have a variety of drivers, and each one of them has their own personality. A lot of people might not know that.

"Maybe Danica leaving might be a good thing because they're going to have to become creative. Having her, it was more, we know she's going to draw a crowd and let's take advantage of it. Everybody is going to have to roll their sleeves up and go to work. Certainly, there is room for a lot of drivers, and that might be a great opportunity for everyone."

Castroneves ranks 10th in the IndyCar Series standings this season, two spots ahead of Patrick, but he trails the Andretti Autosport driver across the board in The Marketing Arm's Celebrity Davie Brown Index.

The DBI measures a celebrity's ability to influence consumers and is used by brands and their agencies to help identify celebrity spokespersons for marketing purposes. Castroneves and Patrick are among the nearly 2,900 celebrities in the index.

"A guy like Helio, he's ... definitely on the radar in terms of getting it done on the track," Mooney said. "But also if they're looking to broaden their appeal and use someone like him, I think they're still going to be OK."

"I think Verizon has done a remarkable job with Will Power, putting him in ads and on billboards," Bernard said. "I would hope Target would do the same thing one day with Dario (Franchitti) because I think that's where you build the stardom for your drivers - through the activation of your sponsors."

Patrick's marketing team has branded her as a determined and talented driver with celebrity sex appeal. But she hasn't been just a pretty face.

Patrick was the first woman to lead the Indianapolis 500 and made history by becoming the first woman to win a major, closed-course motorsports event. She hasn't won in IndyCar since 2008 at Twin Ring Motegi - a drought of 64 races entering Sunday's race at Kentucky Speedway - but earlier this year finished fourth in a NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

"The fans who have been following her in both series (IndyCar and NASCAR) as well as marketers in this sport, I think we're beyond that fascination and curiosity," Mooney said. "It's really about what she's doing on track and she is a performer on track. She's a competitor."

One of Patrick's three career IndyCar pole positions came at the 1.5-mile track in Sparta. The speedway will get a dose of Danica next year. She will be driving a full Nationwide Series schedule for JR Motorsports and limited Sprint Cup Series race with Stewart-Haas Racing.

Meanwhile, her IndyCar team owner is confident the series will be fine after she moves to NASCAR.

"Is our series going to die without Danica? Absolutely not," said Michael Andretti, who owns the No. 7 car driven by Patrick in the IndyCar Series. "As she leaves, I think there are still going to be people that are going to watch our sport because it is the best, I think, the best auto racing series in the world. I mean, it's so exciting. Every race is exciting ... It's not going to be as big of a deal as everybody thinks."
Source: news.cincinnati.com/article/20110929/SPT0601/109300368/IndyCar-set-race-no-Danica?odyssey=tab%7Ctopnews%7Ctext%7CSports

Danica Patrick hopes to start Sprint Cup career in Daytona 500


Danica Patrick thinks it would be nice if she got her NASCAR Sprint Cup career started at the Daytona 500.

The IndyCar star, who is moving to NASCAR full time next season, will run a limited Cup schedule in a car owned by Tony Stewart next year. She will mostly race at tracks where Stewart expects her to struggle, which makes Daytona even more attractive to her.

"I think it would be a good start," she told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday. "It would be nice if the Sprint Cup debut was at a track where I have the opportunity to finish well, especially given the idea that we're going to go to tracks that are going to be challenging and probably ones that I'll do the worst at, but I don't know yet."

Stewart, who was at an appearance with sponsor Office Depot in Richmond, said in a telephone interview that he has looked at having her run the sport's biggest race of the season, but hasn't decided yet if she will. He said he worked with Patrick in a two-car draft during a Nationwide series race at Daytona in July, and said "she ran really, really well all day there."

Stewart has said that Patrick, who also will race full time in the Nationwide series in a car owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr. next year, will drive in eight to 10 Cup races with an emphasis on learning. The complete schedule for the 2012 season has yet to be released.

"I think it's hard for anybody coming into this Cup series," he said. "I was intimidated the first time I raced in the Daytona 500. I went into that race just thinking about running laps."

As an owner, he said, "it's my job to make sure we keep her goals attainable."

Patrick sounds ready to do the same, especially since the plan is to have her race full time in the Cup series in 2013.

"I think the idea is to pick tracks that'll be really hard and that I'll need the most practice at, which is going to be really exciting as I'm lapped for the fifth time out there," she said.

"But it will make it better for the next time I come back."

Patrick, who was in town a day before the Nationwide series race to promote DRIVE4COPD.com , an awareness campaign for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, said she also does not know yet whether she will attempt to drive in the Indianapolis 500 next year.

"My world is quite complicated with sponsors, and sponsor conflicts and what colors and what people are on the sides of my car, and where I'm at and what I'm doing, and what engine manufacturers," she said. "That's all really complicated, and you know, there's a lot of things to look at and think about before we can know for sure if that's going to happen next year."
Source: aol.sportingnews.com/nascar/story/2011-09-08/danica-patrick-hopes-to-start-sprint-cup-career-in-daytona-500?icid=maing-grid10%7Chtmlws-main-bb%7Cdl11%7Csec3_lnk3%7C93964

Patrick's NASCAR plans prompt more criticism


Danica Patrick lost her 85th consecutive IndyCar race Sunday at Sonoma, and if you didn't already know her record is now 1-for-180, there's an entire website that obsessively tracks her lack of progress and touts her as "OVER-HYPED And UNDER-DESERVING!"

It's not a new site, but since announcing last week that she'll move full-time to NASCAR next season, the haters have been out in full force with scathing commentary and scrutiny that seems downright sexist.

It's doubtful anyone has ever paid attention to what five-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson has worn to a press conference, but one publication noted that Patrick wore "orange hooker heels" to last Thursday's announcement. She's been referred to by her married name, Mrs. Paul Hospenthal, called "Mrs. Arrogant," and had her underwhelming IndyCar statistics repeated again and again as fans debate whether she deserves a NASCAR ride.

It's been mean-spirited, unfair, and worst of all, off the mark.

In auto racing, talent and performance are not the most important job requirements, unlike any other professional sport. It's money, especially in heavily marketed NASCAR.

Nobody gets a job driving race cars at the top level without sponsorship, and those who successfully find a corporate partner will always get the rides. Every single week, in a series somewhere, there's a driver on the track only after finding enough sponsorship to buy the seat for that particular race.

Eight months ago, Kevin Conway was on the stage in Las Vegas collecting his reward as the Sprint Cup Series rookie of the year. Nevermind that nobody had ever heard of Conway before he overnight became a driver in NASCAR's top division, or that his resume probably wouldn't have warranted a tryout.

Conway, it turned out, is a skilled marketer and put together a sponsorship package that landed him on the same race track as some of the best drivers in the world. He didn't win a race, didn't notch a single top-20 finish, and in 28 starts, he finished higher than 30th only four times.

Yet there he was, rookie of the year, and as such, eligible to run the All-Star Race this past May.

There was some snickering, but nothing close to the venom that's routinely spewed at Patrick.

Patrick and her marketing team have mastered the auto racing business model, creating a lucrative and long-term relationship with GoDaddy.com. Now, GoDaddy.com chairman Bob Parsons is willing to move that money to NASCAR, where she'll race a full-time Nationwide schedule with JR Motorsports, plus eight-to-10 Cup races with Stewart-Haas Racing.

We're supposed to believe teams shouldn't cash the checks because Patrick's statistics don't stack up?

Or do they?

Through 20 career Nationwide races with JRM, Patrick has three top-10 finishes, a career-best finish of fourth at Las Vegas and led 13 laps at Daytona.

Her top-10s have come this season, in seven starts, giving her an average of 43 percent. Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne has nine top-10 finishes in 20 Nationwide starts — an average of 45 percent.

Patrick's first top-10 came in her 15th career start. By comparison, IndyCar star Sam Hornish Jr. had no top-10s in 11 Nationwide starts before he went to Cup, and Dario Franchitti had no top-20s in four Nationwide starts before he moved up. Although there were skeptics as to how they would perform at NASCAR's top level, neither Franchitti nor Hornish were accused of not deserving a Cup ride.

Then again, neither has ever attracted as much attention as Patrick.

She has done a remarkable job of building her brand, and with it comes a public interest that reaches far beyond the die-hard race fan. Her six top-10s in seven career Indianapolis 500 starts pumped life into that race and is proof enough that she can handle high speeds and race on ovals on the biggest of stages.

With each of those runs came more eyeballs, whether it's to televised races, newspaper articles or Web hits, and when someone drives traffic that way, they will always get attention.

Maybe that's unfair to the Justin Allgaiers of the world, the kind of drivers who fight and claw for a shot and consistently fall short of that one big break because of a lack of sponsorship. There's always going to be that obscure driver who guts out a gritty career-best finish, only to be overshadowed by a juicer story.

But it's the system that's the problem, not Patrick. She played it perfectly, regardless of what she has or has not done on the race track.

On Sunday night, three days after making her NASCAR plans official and opening herself to a fresh round of attacks, she closed the week with a 21st-place run on the road course at Sonoma. Disappointed, Patrick quickly focused on the future, promising to return and do better — next time as a NASCAR driver.

"It's tough days like today that I am extra appreciative of my fans," she posted on her Twitter page. "I will be back to redeem myself....but it will have a roof."

Patrick's impact on sport hinges on performance


Experts agree Patrick on the track isn't enough, she needs to succeed

It's understandable why so many people in NASCAR are so giddy about the prospect of Danica Patrick competing full-time in the Nationwide Series next season. She is one of the more recognizable and marketable race car drivers on the planet, a figure whose athletic potential, commercial viability and sex appeal have traditionally outshined even her exploits on the track. She commands attention simply by walking onto pit road in a firesuit, something very few other drivers -- even those much more accomplished -- can do.

We've already seen the results of that, even in Patrick's relatively short time in NASCAR. Her Nationwide debut last February in Daytona was the most-watched event from that series ever on cable television, drawing more than 4 million viewers and a rating that tripled what Nationwide races typically get. Executives at Daytona International Speedway are crossing fingers over a potential Daytona 500 attempt as part of a limited Sprint Cup campaign. Clearly, she can move the needle.

And yet, there's still something of a novelty factor at work here, given that Patrick has competed in all of 20 NASCAR national-division races, and everyone is still wondering what she's capable of in a vehicle with fenders. We should begin to get some of those answers now that Patrick has announced plans to move into the Nationwide tour full-time in 2012. The more seat time, the better. Throughout this two-year dalliance with stock-car racing, Patrick's largest drawback has been a piecemeal schedule that forces her out of her No. 7 JR Motorsports car just as she seems to be getting the feel for it.

No more. Next season Patrick becomes a regular just like everyone else, a fact that should accelerate her growth curve, and extend those too-brief flashes of promise we've seen from a driver whose mentality and temperament seem so much better suited to stock cars than dainty open-wheel machines. From the standpoint of her personal development as a NASCAR driver, she'll finally be able to build on efforts week to week, and perhaps attain that level of consistency that has thus far evaded her.

And yet, this is all much bigger than Danica Patrick. No question, she is an individual driver with individual aspirations and her own individual reasons for making the commitment to NASCAR. But at the same time she enters a Nationwide Series that has issues of its own, from its constant search for an identity to the fact that championship leader Ricky Stenhouse Jr. still drives a blank white race car too many weekends of the year. No question, Patrick's galvanizing effect has the potential to change that to a certain degree, to be the rising tide that lifts all boats. She brings with her attention and ratings, two things sponsors want to see, and it's not unrealistic to hope that the entire series may benefit from the brighter spotlight that follows Patrick wherever she goes.

"I think she will raise the overall awareness of the series and bring in some new fans. That's good for everybody," said Zak Brown, founder and chairman of Just Marketing International, an Indianapolis agency that specializes in motorsports. "I think she'll be successful commercially, and I think it will have a knock-on effect on the series itself, because people will be tuning into it. I'm sure she'll bring in new viewers, and that will be good for everybody."

For that to happen, though, one key thing has to occur -- Patrick has to eventually win, or at least get close. NASCAR fans are a savvy bunch, and are well-versed in the differences between real accomplishment and hype. New fans aren't as likely to be drawn in by somebody running 25th. Put Patrick up front, consistently, and the whole equation changes; there's a reason why the 2005 Indianapolis 500, where Danica led until almost the very end, enjoyed its highest TV rating in eight years. Drop her to the back, and it's the status quo. NASCAR is a results-oriented business, something not even Patrick's immense magnetism can change. Like everyone else, her impact on the Nationwide Series will ultimately come down to performance.

Danica Patrick ended months of speculation after announcing that she will be competing full time in the Nationwide Series for JR Motorsports in 2012.

"She has a unique ability to raise the stature of the Nationwide Series," said David Carter, executive director of the University of Southern California's Sports Business Institute. "Even though it's the case that many of the top-tier drivers also participate in these races, you don't see the same level of notoriety, of media coverage or fan attention in that series. She's going to retrain the eye of a lot of racing fans to keep an eye on that series. That's obviously going to be good for the overall series."

There's a catch, though. "If she's competitive consistently, which is always vital, if she's always in the thick of it, then that will drive the TV ratings," Carter added. "It should help those cars that are not presently sponsored, no matter how well they're racing. If they still don't have sponsorship, then her ability to lift all the boats will be there. But once you get past the initial infatuation and interest in how she's going to compete, you just really need to know that she has to settle in to a steady state of being at or near the top of the pack, or it's just essentially going to be more of the same for the Nationwide Series."

In a series full of moonlighting Cup drivers with bigger names, sponsorship can sometimes be a tough sell. Not even the top teams are immune -- Roush Fenway Racing has availability on the vehicles of Nationwide points leader Stenhouse and Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne, full-time competitors who both drive blank white race cars more often than they'd like. Those cars are white to try and generate attention, something that could be made easier with a contending Patrick in the field.

"We've gotten phone calls from people the Monday morning after a guy runs a race [saying], 'Hey, I had no idea that there was availability. I had no idea you guys didn't have a sponsor. How can I get involved?' That's certainly our philosophy when we run the white cars," said Kevin Thomas, Roush Fenway's vice president of strategic marketing. "With Danica, if people begin to watch Nationwide races who haven't historically, and we have a bigger audience, and someone else can see, hey, one of our guys is available -- then sure, that would be terrific. Could it happen? Absolutely. Will it? I have no idea."

Although she has yet to complete her second partial season on the Nationwide tour, Patrick is fast becoming a familiar face. She's been accepted by NASCAR, and clearly her full-time plans for next season indicate that she accepts the sport. These are both good things. The by-product, though, is that one day the novelty will erode, and her mere presence won't be enough to generate the attention it once did. That's why winning plays such a pivotal role.

"She's been around long enough, and been in enough NASCAR races that it's not like she's completely new to NASCAR," Brown said. "She's going to have get some results -- ideally win races, certainly run at the front. Because she's been around long enough now that there is a novelty factor, but it's got to be backed up with results."

Carter agreed. "Years ago, people might say, 'Hey, let's see what this woman is all about.' Now, that intrigue is kind of gone," he said. "Now it just boils down to winning. It's not like she's in her rookie season anymore. She's had arguably more ink than any other driver over the last so many years .... She is by no means an unknown quantity at this point, so I think it's going to revert to her need to win even earlier."

From the limited returns gathered so far, she seems completely capable of it. Patrick catches a lot of grief for having won only once in major-league auto racing, that on fuel mileage in an IndyCar event in Japan. Much like her NASCAR boss Dale Earnhardt Jr., she's often knocked for receiving a level of attention disproportionate to her achievements. And yet, to see how well Patrick raced at Las Vegas in March and at Daytona in July, to see the progress she's made between this year and last, to see how her feistiness meshes so perfectly with the beating and banging nature of stock cars, to know how good her Hendrick-made cars are -- anything seems possible.

Even the sight of that No. 7 up front, contending for race wins. That's the kind of thing that could stop casual sports fans in their tracks as they flip past ESPN, or lead potential sponsors to give the Nationwide Series a second look. "I think she has the ability to do that, but only if she's on the lead lap," Carter said. "Very few sports fans in America, whether they're casual fans or diehard fans, are willing to tune in to watch someone who's out of contention. Just look at the golf ratings when Tiger [Woods] isn't there. Look at what happens to some of these major-market franchises when their team is out of contention for the playoffs during the dog days of summer. It still boils down to the quality of the product."

Brown sets the bar high. "She's got to be running top-10 now on a regular basis," he said. "And if she wins ... she could be as big as any name in NASCAR."
Source: www.nascar.com/news/110824/dcaraviello-dpatrick-nationwide-impact/index.html

Earnhardt: Patrick already successful in NASCAR


Dale Earnhardt Jr. was noncommittal on reports that Danica Patrick will race full time for his JR Motorsports Nationwide Series team next year, but he has been impressed with Patrick's performance on the track.

According to reports by various news outlets, an announcement of Patrick's plans for 2012 is expected for next week in Phoenix.

"There ain't been no announcement yet, so I don't know why you would go report that," Earnhardt said Friday at Michigan. "We've enjoyed working with her and would love to keep working with her. When there's something to announce, they'll announce it, and we'll just wait until that happens, I guess."

Though Patrick has but one top-five (fourth at Las Vegas in March) and three top-10 finishes in 19 Nationwide starts during the past two seasons, Earnhardt said she has made significant progress since her debut at Daytona in February 2010.

"I think what she's accomplished already has been success, in my opinion," Earnhardt said. "She obviously would want to continue to improve and compete for wins and win races. It's tough to learn new cars, to learn a new vehicle and be able to drive it well and do well in it and adapt to it. I think she's done that.

"She's awesome about it, and she's really done a great job. She seems like she's fun to work with, and no matter whether you're a man or woman, people have to be able to get along with you, and you have to be able to be a people person and manage people and manage relationships. She seems to do a great job of that."

Jimmie Johnson has a perspective on Bristol Motor Speedway that only a driver can have.

Although races at Bristol aren't as wild as they used to be when the bottom groove was the only way around the .533-mile short track, races there remain a challenge. Drivers complete a lap in less than 16 seconds and often don't have time to react to an accident in front of them.

Limited visibility can be an issue, too.

"When you go into a corner at Bristol, the radius of the turn is so sharp that you would literally need a sun roof to see the exit of the corner, because you go in the corner and the exit is over here," Johnson said, pointing to the left. "So not only are you going really fast in a small area, you can't see much. You only see, as you are going into the corner, you can maybe only see five car lengths in front of you -- six car lengths.

"When something happens, you see it late and then you are going fast and you can't stop and there's no room, and it just compounds from there and puts on exciting races -- exciting stuff. It puts us in a position where we just have to build a lot of trust in spotters and assume things are OK in front of you and just hope for the best."

The Sprint Cup Series shifts to Bristol after Sunday's Pure Michigan 400.
Source: www.nascar.com/news/110819/notebook-michigan-dearnhardtjr-dpatrick-jjohnson/index.html

IndyCar's Danica Patrick still learning road-course nuances


Danica Patrick is off to another slow start, bogged down by an IndyCar schedule front-loaded with road and street courses.

Frustrated? Certainly. Patrick wants to win every race she enters, whether it's on the ovals she prefers or those tougher-to-handle winding courses.

But is she discouraged yet? Not quite. If anything, Patrick is heartened by the first two races, even if they have left her 16th in the standings. She is, despite the so-so results, making progress.

"I actually think this year has been really good," Patrick said. "The results just haven't been there."

Coming from an oval background, Patrick has never particularly liked road and street courses. She has had some successes here and there, including a second at Belle Isle in Detroit in 2007, fourth at Long Beach in 2009 and fifth at Infineon the year before. She just hasn't been consistent.

This season, Patrick has been much better in practice, regularly pulling in among the top 15 cars. She has struggled in qualifying, though, which is much more important on street and road courses than ovals.

Forced to fight her way through a bottled-up field, Patrick has shown plenty of speed through the first two races, posting fastest lap times in both, and driving into the top 10 for a while at Alabama last week after starting 22nd.

She just hasn't had much luck during the races.

At the series opener in St. Petersburg, Fla., Patrick damaged the nose of her car after running into the back of Justin Wilson near the midpoint of the race and wasn't able to make up ground, finishing 12th after being penalized a spot for making avoidable contact on the final lap.

Patrick overcame another struggle in qualifying at Barber Motorsports Park, moving up to seventh, then third after the team decided to not take tires. The pit strategy backfired and Patrick ended up 17th.

"Ultimately, when you don't qualify well, you're forced to take risks, and sometimes those risks don't pay off," said Patrick, in her second year juggling an IndyCar season and a part-time run in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. "So it's good to be up the grid."

Patrick's improvement, though gradual, has been as expected for a driver who grew up on ovals trying to tackle courses that have right turns, too.

It seems so easy; if you're a race-car driver, you can race anywhere. But making the switch from ovals to road courses takes a completely different set of skills, not to mention mind-set.

In oval racing, drivers get the car into gear and cruise along -- albeit at over 200 mph -- working with the engineers along the way to get the setup just right.

Road racing requires so much more from the drivers, from all the shifting to picking lines for a multitude of corners to the physical toll of jostling back and forth.

"There's a lot more going on the road course," said Jimmy Vasser, a co-owner of KV Racing Technology and a former driver. "You're upshifting, downshifting, turning left, turning right -- it's a lot more violent of a ride, your head's moving around, just violent. In ovals, it's just serene and kind of quiet, really dealing with just the subtleties."

The mentality is a little different, too.

On ovals, drivers look to go flat out all the time, and the slightest imbalance in the car, whether a tire or a spoiler, can throw a wrench into the whole thing.

Road courses allow drivers to be a little more aggressive, maybe try to overcome imperfections in handling by muscling the car around the track.

The circuit's best drivers, like Dario Franchitti and Helio Castroneves, find a balance between the two styles of racing. Most of the others need time to figure it out, if they ever do.

"It takes a few years. The car has to do the work because if something's not right with the car, you have to come in and fix it," Vasser said of ovals. "You can't just say, 'I'm going to go a little faster and deal with it,' because then you'll be in the fence. But you can have that mentality on a street circuit, you can carry a car and throw it around a little bit, be more aggressive."
Source: www.indystar.com/article/20110417/SPORTS0107/104170382/IndyCar-s-Danica-Patrick-still-learning-road-course-nuances?odyssey=obinsite

Patrick Trying to Live Up to Racing's High Expectations


Danica Patrick is getting used to swapping back and forth between NASCAR and IndyCar.

She makes smooth transitions between the different terminology and technology. She has no trouble adjusting to the diverse feel between the peppy and sophisticated open-wheel cars and the bulky and often testy stock cars. She even balances questions about the challenges both cars provide, trying hard not to offend anyone in either series.

She's also well versed in one, all-important aspect: Expectations.

As Patrick makes the move from NASCAR's Nationwide Series to the IndyCar season opener for the second time in as many years, she welcomes the high aspirations that come with returning to her primary racing career.

"That is what I expect, to run up front every weekend," Patrick said Friday on her 29th birthday, two days before the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. "With that kind of goal, maybe perhaps you're a little more disappointed more often. If the goal is to win every weekend, there's not that many people that win every weekend. It's just that hard."

Patrick has one victory in 98 career IndyCar starts, and with Chip Ganassi's powerhouse team doubling to four cars in 2011 and Penske Racing's three-car team eager to reclaim the championship after a four-year drought, she could face even more competition in her seventh season.

Nonetheless, she's been encouraged by preseason test sessions — as well as the confidence boost she's received from leaving the Nationwide Series ninth in points.

Now, it's back to IndyCars.
Source: www.theledger.com/article/20110326/NEWS/110329620/0/ZNYT03?Title=Patrick-Trying-to-Live-Up-to-Racing-s-High-Expectations

Patrick Ready for Jump to NASCAR


There are no stars in Danica Patrick's eyes. Since she has been a little girl, she has understood the demands of a racing career. She gets it. This is not a woman trying to be a race car driver. This is a race car driver who happens to be a woman.

Attractive and personable, she has a race car driver's personality. She can be edgy. When it comes to her career, she carefully calibrates everything. She makes no moves that are not well thought out. Emotion does not enter into it, one of the reasons she has no much potential on the track.

And right now, Patrick is exploring the biggest move of her life, a switch from open wheel racing, which is the way she came up, to NASCAR, the NFL of motorsports.

It could happen. Her Indy car contract with Andretti Autosport expires after 2012, and things are not going well there. There was friction on the team last year, and Patrick, who has the pressure of enormous expectations after becoming the first woman to lead the Indy 500 as a rookie in 2005 and the first woman ever to win a race in a major series with her 2008 victory at Motegi, Japan, might be up for a change.

Then again, maybe not. The biggest problem with NASCAR is the demands on her time. Patrick wants a life outside of racing, and NASCAR drivers pretty much forfeit that. But she is also driven to succeed, and if she feels that opportunity doesn't exist in Indy cars, she may be willling to sacrifice.

"Anytime something opens up, you have to be open to it," she said at Daytona, where she will begin her second year of dabbling in NASCAR ranks Saturday in the Nationwide Series race. Under terms of her Indy car contract, she essentially runs NASCAR before and after the Indy car season.

She races Nationwide for JR Motorsports, potentially a powerhouse team owned jointly by Dale Earnhardt Jr., Rick Hendrick and Tony Eury Jr. Her crew chief is Tony Eury Sr. Over the years, the Eurys and the Earnhardts have been a formidable combination at all levels of the sport.

Patrick ran 13 races last year and will do 13 more this season, when her contract expires. Then, a decision will have to be made. Her reviews were mixed, although again, because of who she is, the expectations were probably out of line. The fact is that the only way she can find out how good she is in race cars with fenders is to jump in with both feet, not just stick her toe in the water.

"I have a lot of the same goals I had last year," she said. "I want to run laps, finish races. Last year, things got to me a little bit. I was pretty optimistic after the preseason test, then reality set it. It's OK if you don't set the world on fire. That's not realistic.

"I only ran 13 races last year and they were spread out, and I'm running 13 more this year. That's two-thirds of a season. It's going to take me three years to get a full season in. By the end of the year we were running better, although the results didn't show it. Sometimes you just have a bad weekend. That doesn't make you a bad driver," Patrick said.

"This takes time. I don't know at what point I should espect to be fast every single weekend. I'm starting to understand the car, how it needs to handle at the beginning of a run to make it handle good at the end of a run," she added.

Patrick has solid support from her owners, including Earnhardt Jr., who knows a little bit about what it's like to live under a microscope, about unrealistic expectations. "She brings a new energy to our company," he said. "I think she really came a long way for how much racing she did."

Earnhardt is open to re-signing Patrick after this season and Patrick understands that a team with Hendrick backing is a pretty good place to be. It is not even out of the question that this team could eventually move up to Sprint Cup.

And given the lack of success Earnhardt has had at Hendrick, who knows? Eventually, JR Motorsports could be fielding cars for both of them, and that would be a NASCAR dream come true. Danica Patrick and Dale Earnhardt Jr. competing to win the Daytona 500. NASCAR officials would think they died and went to heaven.
Source: www.theledger.com/article/20110213/NEWS/102135037/?tc=obinsite

Patrick makes history with fourth-place run


As Mark Martin climbed out of his winning race car in Victory Lane on Saturday afternoon, another, smaller celebration was unfolding along pit road at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Danica Patrick exchanged jubilant hugs and handclaps with other drivers and members of her crew, and then turned and waved at the crowd that had witnessed her breakthrough finish in the Nationwide Series.

Pairing fuel strategy with an improving ability to race side-by-side in stock cars, Patrick rallied from two laps down to finish fourth, her best result since the IndyCar regular began her part-time foray into NASCAR last year. Patrick got one lap back via a wave-around, made up another thanks to the free pass, and had enough fuel to run to the end as several other contenders were forced to stop on pit road.

"To be honest, I think we're making some real progress," said Patrick, whose previous best Nationwide finish was 14th, at Daytona two weeks ago. "We make progress every weekend, but it's just a matter of, are you on the lead lap and in position to take advantage by the end of the race?"

Saturday, she was. In the process, she recorded the best finish by a female driver ever in a NASCAR national series, topping the fifth-place result turned in by Sara Christian at Heidelburg Raceway in Pittsburgh in 1949.

"I think it's huge," said Patrick's crew chief, Tony Eury Jr. "I think it's going to help her out tremendously. I think Daytona was a really big step for her. Last week at Phoenix, we know short-track racing is kind of one of her issues. The mile and-a-halfs, I told her by the end of [last] year she was doing great at that, and it was just a matter of putting a whole race weekend together."

Patrick still had her issues at Las Vegas, including a mediocre qualifying effort and a spin on the opening day of Nationwide practice on Thursday. But her improvement as a stock-car racer was evident Saturday, particularly in the way she spent several patient laps dueling with Daytona 500 champion Trevor Bayne. Patrick used some lapped traffic to get by on the low side, then picked off Nationwide regular Brian Scott for the 10th position, and the off-cycle pit stops she had made earlier in the event carried her from there.

"It's nice to race with those guys," Patrick said. "They teach me. They really teach me how I need to run. [Bayne] has been having lots of good experience with Sprint Cup and with Nationwide, and he's been doing really well. He taught me how to prevent somebody from getting by too easily. He was right there tight on my right side, and I'm telling you, man, I was loose as all getup next to him. But that's how you learn how to race."

Patrick's No. 7 team entered the weekend harboring secret hopes of a top-10 finish, based on the lap times she turned at Las Vegas last season and the progress she made on intermediate tracks toward the end of the year. "I didn't want to say that to the media, because then you'd expect me to finish in the top 10," she said. They'll gladly take the top-five instead.

"It's very easy for her to run in the top 15 in this series," Eury said, "and we thought -- hey, Vegas, we ran really good out there last year, we ought to be able to run top 10. Today we had a ninth-place car and fuel strategy kind of gave us a top five, so it's a bonus."

Now Patrick has a week to celebrate, and to think about her next start, at a very different kind of track -- half-mile, high-banked Bristol Motor Speedway, a facility at which she'll be competing for the first time.

"I don't know if it's good to have a top-five going into Bristol," she joked. "But hey, just like any weekend, you'll take a good result. I don't want this to create any sort of false expectations that I'm going to go out and go for a top-five or a top-10 at Bristol. My goal at Bristol is to finish and not be more than 10 laps down, I think, given the size of it. When I tell people that Bristol is my next track, they're like, 'Oh. Oh.' So they're kind of putting me in kind of a scared position."
Source: nationwide.nascar.com/nationwide-series/news/110305/dpatrick-fourth-vegas-nationwide

Clint Bowyer Wins Pole for Nationwide Race at Daytona, Danica Fourth


Up until the final few minutes of Friday's NASCAR Nationwide Series qualifying, it looked as if IndyCar star-turned-NASCAR newbie Danica Patrick may just have landed herself the pole position at stock car's most famous track, Daytona International Speedway.

Midway through the session Patrick laid down the fastest lap of the afternoon bumping veteran Carl Edwards off the top spot and igniting a buzz around the garage area. Had her lap stood, she would have been the first woman to win a Nationwide Series pole since Shawna Robinson did it in March 1994.

Instead, another newcomer, Landon Cassill, knocked Patrick out of the top spot only to have Sprint Cup Series veteran Clint Bowyer come in and better them both. Bowyer's lap of 180.821 mph in the Kevin Harvick-owned No. 33 Rheem Chevrolet earned the former series champ the pole position for Saturday's DRIVE4COPD 300 and stifled the building frenzy around a possible Patrick front row start.

Cassill will start alongside him while another late qualifier Dale Earnhardt Jr,. took the third position. He'll start next to Patrick on the second row; he owns both cars.

This is only Patrick's 13th Nationwide Series start in her highly-publicized racing double as a full-time driver in the IZOD IndyCar Series and a part-timer in NASCAR's second-tier Nationwide circuit.

"It's been a fast car the whole time we've been here,'' Patrick said, as she watched the remaining few cars qualify. "No matter what happens now, it'll be a good starting position. This is a big deal and for it to come at Daytona, it's 10 times a bigger deal.''
Source: motorsports.fanhouse.com/2011/02/18/clint-bowyer-wins-pole-for-nationwide-race-at-daytona-danica-fo/

Patrick's 2011 Nationwide schedule finalized


Danica to race 12 times in second season, and venture to four new tracks

JR Motorsports general manager Kelley Earnhardt announced Wednesday the 2011 Nationwide Series schedule for Danica Patrick.

Patrick's tour will closely resemble her rookie campaign in that she will compete in a cluster of races on the front and back ends of the Nationwide schedule. She will appear in select races during the middle parts of the year while competing full time in the IZOD IndyCar Series. Patrick's 2011 NASCAR plans feature 12 races across 10 markets. Four of those markets will host Patrick for the first time in a stock car.

Necessity, rather than track preference, was the biggest factor in determining Patrick's schedule for 2011.

"The majority of the reasons for going to certain tracks really have to do with the schedule -- the IndyCar schedule," Patrick said. "Once the IndyCar season starts, I'm not allowed to do any [NASCAR] races until after the Indy 500, and then it's only one per month until the IndyCar season's over with."

As of July 9, 2011:


As of July 9, Danica ranks 25th in the Nationwide Series with only 6 races. She has 1 top 5 and 3 top 10s.

Drivers who have completed 17 races:

Danica stands 25th in NASCARs Nationwide series and has more Top 5 and Top 10 finishes than 16 of the top 24 drivers. Most of them have run all 17 races. She's only run 6.

8th place Steve Wallace 1/2

9th Brian Scott 0/3

10th Michael Annett 0/3

11th John Wise 0/2

12th Mike Wallace 1/2

13th Mike Bliss 0/0

16th Jeremy Clements 0/0

19th Eric McClure 0/0

20 Morgan Shepherd 0/0

Then there's

15th Joe Nemecheck with 15 races and 1/1

17th Timmy Hill with 16 races and 0/0

18th Derrike Cope with 16 races and 0/0

21st Blke Koch 15 races 0/0

22nd Ryan Truex 10 races with 0/1

23rd Scott Wimmer with 14 races and 0/0

24th Robert Richardson Jr with 14 races and 0/0

2011 NASCAR Nationwide Race Stats

Date

Track

Start
Finish
Laps
Status

Feb 19

Daytona

4
14
119/120

Running

Feb 26

Phoenix

20
17
197/200

Running

Mar 5

Las Vegas

22
4
200/200

Running

Mar 19

Bristol

29
33
245/300

Accident

Jun 4

Chicagoland

16
10
199/200

Running

July 1

Daytona

7
10
100/100

Running

Aug 20

Montreal

25
24
74/74

Running

Sep 9

Richmond

Oct 8

Kansas

Nov 5

Texas

Nov 12

Phoenix

Nov 19

Homestead-Miami

"This is going to be an exciting year in the No. 7 Chevrolet," said Patrick, who scored a career-best fifth-place start and 19th-place finish in the 2010 finale at Homestead-Miami. "I have a much different perspective heading into this season. I know a little more of what to expect, and I'm not as out of my element. I've had a year to work with my team, and there is a comfort level that comes with returning to some of these tracks. It's obvious experience goes a long way in this sport."

Race tracks that were not on Patrick's 2010 schedule, but are among her 2011 plans, are Bristol, Richmond, Kansas and Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, which is located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Patrick has raced at Richmond and Kansas in the IndyCar Series.

GoDaddy.com will serve as primary sponsor for 11 of the 12 races with Patrick on the No. 7 Chevrolet.

2011 IRL Results (Grid/Finish/Qualifying Speed/Laps Completed/Status)

Date

Track

Start
Finish
Laps
Status

Mar 27

St. Petersburgh

19
12
200
Running

Apr 10

Birmingham

22
17
89/90
Running

Apr 17

Long Beach

20
7
85
Running

May 1

San Paulo, Brazil

23
17
46/55
Running

May 29

Indianapolis

25
10
200
Running

Jun 11

Fort Worth - Race 1

10
16
113/114
Running

Jun 11

Fort Worth - Race 2

20
8
114/114
Running

Jun 19

Milwaukee

15
5
225/225
Running

Jun 25

Iowa

2
10
250/250
Running

Jul 10

Toronto

21
19
83/85
Running

Jul 24

Edmonton

22
9
80/80
Running

Aug 7

Mid-Ohio

23
21
85/85
Running

Aug 14

New Hampshire

15
6
215/215
Running

Aug 28

Sonoma, CA

25
21
74/75
Running

Sep 4

Baltimore

23
7
75/75
Running

Sep 18

Motegi Japan

23
12
63/63
Running

Oct 2

Kentucky

14
10
200/200
Running

Oct 16

Las Vegas

9
NA
NA
Cancelled



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