Danica
Patrick
2012
 

2013 Sprint Cup Series Schedule
2012 Sprint Cup Series Schedule
2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Race Stats
2012 NASCAR Nationwide Race Stats
2012 Snippets
2012 News

30:47 5:55 2:12 2:54 3:57 2:37 1:34

3:31 0:57 0:54 0:54 0:54 0:40 0:40

0:42 1:02 1:29 0:32 0:58 0:47 0:51

Danica Patrick divorcing husband after 7 years of marriage
Danica Patrick voted most popular driver in NASCAR Nationwide series
Danica Patrick, Dale Earnhardt Jr. prove you don't have to win to be NASCAR's most popular driver
Danica Patrick's first full season in NASCAR
Patrick becomes top-finishing female
Danica likes fit with new, old-school crew chief
Gibson likely to be with Patrick in 2013
Danica Patrick Raises Awareness of COPD, the Disease That Killed Her Grandmother
Danica Patrick tries out her new interim crew chief in Kentucky
Danica adjusting to new crew chief
Danica Patrick and Brad Sweet clash again
Patrick, Whitt Score Top-15 Finishes at Chicago
Danica Patrick makes sixth Cup start her best
Patrick still waiting for the other shoe to drop
Danica Patrick's day doomed by shoe thrown on track
Danica Patrick must step up, or she'll face even more scrutiny in 2013
Patrick says car capable of winning Indy 500 vital for return
Stewart, Patrick hope familiarity helps at Indy
JRM future could have Danica guest appearances
Danica Patrick plans partial Nationwide run in 2013
Danica Patrick excited, confident on return to IMS
Kansas race completes Patrick's Cup schedule
Patrick driving in familiar territory
Different careers, mutual respect: Patrick, Decker admire each other's career climb, strength
Patrick eyes return to IMS in 2013 with Doubleheader
Patrick leaves Indianapolis 500 behind -- for now
The Indy 500 is on Danica's mind
Living It Up
Patrick dialing back expectations for 2012
For Patrick, progress to performance leap not easy
Danica Patrick returns to Daytona 500 after early wreck
Patrick wins pole for Nationwide race at Daytona
Danica goes for a wild ride on final lap of Duel
Patrick's biggest impact may be off the track
With starting spot secure, Patrick has pressure-free qualifying day at Daytona
Danica Patrick To Skip Indy 500 In 2012 In Transition To NASCAR
Patrick's 2012 Cup plan begins with Daytona 500
Danica Patrick To Skip Indy 500 In 2012 In Transition To NASCAR
Patrick to make Cup debut in 2012 Daytona 500
Danica Ready for 2012

Snippets


Danica started 14th at Homestead and finished 13 and lead 4 laps in between. She finished the year of 33 races with one pole and 4 top 10s, and enough points to hold on to the 10th spot overall.

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Danica started 14th at Phoenix and finished 10th. She's still 10th overall in the Nationwide series with one more race to go - Homestead. .

She started 37th in the Cup race at Phoenix, worked up to 13th by lap 312 and a red flag> After the restart Jeff Burton got into her and turned her into the wall on the next to the last lap and she made it across the finish line to finish 17th. This is her last scheduled race in the Cup series this year.

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Danica started 8th at Texas and finished 14. She's still 10th overall in the Nationwide series with two more races to go - Phoenix and Homestead. .

She started 32nd in the Cup race at Texas and finished 24th. Her last scheduled race in the Cup series is next weekend in Phoenix.

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Dania finished 11th tonight in Charlotte's Nationwide Race and took over 10th overall of 137 drivers.

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Danica gridded 25th in the Nationwide race at Dover and finished on the lead lap in the 16th spot. She moves one point closer to Nemechek in the over-all rankings and currently stands only 4 points out of the 10th spot.

On Sunday, she was gridded 38th in the Spring Cup race and finished 28th. Only 5 racers were on the leader's lap at the finished. Danica was 7 laps down with Burton, Montoya and Hornish.

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Danica gridded 11th in the Nationwide race at Kentucky and finished 14th, two laps back

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Danica gridded 12th in the Nationwide race at Chicago and finished 12th finishing on the lead lap. In the Cup race, Danica was gridded 41st and worked her way to 25th by the finish.

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Danica gridded 24th in the Nationwide race at Richmond and finished 29th completing 218 of 250 laps. She dropped out of the Top 10 in the series and is currently in the 11th slot.

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Another double weekend for the NASCAR driver, Danica gridded 17th in the Nationwide race at Atlanta and finished 13th with 193 of 195 laps, keeping her in 10th place in the overall series. On Sunday, she was gridded 23 in the Cup race and finished 29th completing a total of 321 of 337 laps

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Danica started 43rd (last because a rainout in qualifying and the way NASCAR grids in that situation) at the Sprint Cup race at Bristol. On lap 434 she gets turned into the wall while on the lead lap by Regan Smith and ends up 29th.

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Danica started 34th at the Nationwide race at Bristol and finished in 9th, moving her back up to 10th in overall standings in the series. She'll enter her fourth Cup race on Saturday in 43rd.

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Danica started 4th at Montreal, led for some 20+ laps with Canadian Jacques Villeneuve right behind her. She hit a shoe thrown on the track by a spectator, which caused problems with the handling and she lost position and had to get it repaired in the pits. She ended up with a 27th finish. It's unfortunate that the spectators don't let the drivers decide the race without interferance. I hope any Canadian who saw the culprit or hear them brag about how they impacted the race, got a photo of them and broadcasts it on the web.

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Danica started 23rd at the Watkins Glen Nationwide race and finished in last place because she got tangled up in an accident on the 2nd lap of an 80 lap event (43rd). She dropped to 11th place in the over-all standings, 6 points out of 10th.

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Danica started 18th at the Iowa 250 Nationwide race and finished 11th.

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Danica started 20th at the Indiana 250 Nationwide race and finished 35th after an accident on lap 38 of 100.

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Danica Patrick started 13th at Chicagoland and finished 14th. Holds on to 9th place in the series.

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Danica Patrick moved from 18th to finish 14th at Loudon.

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Danica Patrick's Daytona woes continue with hard wreck

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Danica started 10th in the Naitonwide race at Road America and finished on the same lap as the winner in 12th. http://bit.ly/9NIAbO She breaks the tie to take over 10th palce in the season standings.

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Danica started 5th at Michigan International and finished 18. She was on the same lap as the winner.

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Danica started 17th at Dover and was involved in an accident on the 133 lap of a 200 lap race finishing 30th.

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Prelude to the Dream.

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Danica started the Charlotte Nationwide race in 3rd and finished 13th and then got in her Cup car gridded 40th and finished 30th.

*     *     *

The Indy 500 is on Danica's mind.

Patrick eyes return to IMS in 2013 with Doubleheader

*      *      *

Danica Patrick started 9th but ended up behind the wall at Iowa after a blown right-front tire, ending her day on lap 113 of 250. She finished 30th in the race, and holds on to the 10th spot in the over-all series standings.

*      *      *

Danica takes12th in her first Nationwide race at Darlington, moving up to 10th in the series standing. Only two other women have ever raced in the series: Janet Guthrie took a 16th in 1977 and Shawna Robinson a 42nd in 2002.

*     *     *

Danica Patrick knows how to drive a race car. And she knows what to expect at a restrictor plate track. So she's dead set on enjoying all the off-track debauchery in her first 'Dega trip.

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Danica Patrick struggles during long night at Richmond

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Danica started 30th and finished in 21st at Phoenix, 3 laps behind the winner.

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Danica was involved in a Lap 2 accident triggered when Elliott Sadler shoved Jimmie Johnson coming out of the trioval. Kurt Busch, David Ragan and Trevor Bayne were also involved. By lap 66, her crew had her back on the track Danica finished in the 38th spot, 64 laps behind the winner.

*     *     *

Danica started on the pole in the first Nationwide race of 2012. Her first in 26 attempts and the first for a female driver since Shawna Robinson started on the pole at Atlanta in March 1994. Robinson is the only other woman to win a pole in any of NASCAR's top three national series. On lap 49, Danica was knocked out by her teammate Cole Whitt but came back 48 laps later, after major repairs, to finished 38th. She is currently ranked 22nd.

That's the way I love to see a NASCAR round-d-round race end with a major pileup with the leaders at the front of the pack and lots of money down the drain to repair all those cars. It's the new form of the good ole Demolition Derby.  

*     *     *

Patrick wins pole for Nationwide race at Daytona

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Danica Patrick takes to the track and becomes the third female to qualify for the Daytona 500.

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Danica Patrick To Skip Indy 500 In 2012 In Transition To NASCAR  

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Patrick to make Cup debut in 2012 Daytona 500

News


Danica Patrick divorcing husband after 7 years of marriage


A rough season on the track apparently was accompanied by a rough season off the track for Danica Patrick, who announced Tuesday that she is splitting from her husband, Paul Hospenthal, after seven years of marriage.

Hospenthal, who is 17 years older than the 30-year-old Patrick, is a physical therapist and met Patrick while treating her for an injury.

They married in November 2005 in Arizona, where they still live. They have no children. Hospenthal typically keeps a low profile but has been to the races several times this year.

“I am sad to inform my fans that after 7 years, Paul and I have decided to amicably end our marriage,” Patrick said in a post on her Facebook page.

“This isn't easy for either of us, but mutually it has come to this. He has been an important person and friend in my life and that's how we will remain moving forward."

Patrick, the highest-finishing woman ever in the Indianapolis 500 with a third in 2009, became the first woman to finish in the top-10 in a NASCAR national series as she placed 10th in the Nationwide Series this year driving for JR Motorsports.

She will drive for Stewart-Haas Racing next year in the Sprint Cup Series.

While she is making the move to Cup, she had hoped for better results in 2012, when she finished with just four top-10 finishes in 33 events.

Despite the struggles on the track, she was voted by fans through online voting as the Nationwide Series Most Popular Driver.

In addition to her racing, Patrick is one of the biggest sports celebrities through a second career as a model and spokesperson.

She has appeared in more Super Bowl commercials than any other celebrity, having been featured in 10 spots for internet domain hosting company Go Daddy. She will appear in two commercials for the company once again in 2013.

The 5-foot-1 driver has appeared in scantily clad outfits and bikinis in several magazines. While criticized by some, she said she has never done a shoot that she has felt went over the line and won’t apologize for using her sex appeal to help boost her brand.

“I’m a girl, and to say that I can’t use being a girl doesn’t make any sense,” Patrick said earlier this year. “In this world, there is so much competition out there and you have to use of everything that you have to make sponsors happy, to attract them and to be unique and be different.”
Source:  aol.sportingnews.com/nascar/story/2012-11-20/danica-patrick-divorce-husband-marriage-split-paul-hospenthal-facebook-years?icid=maing-grid10%7Chtmlws-sb-bb%7Cdl18%7Csec3_lnk3%26pLid%3D236896

Danica Patrick voted most popular driver in NASCAR Nationwide series


Danica Patrick made NASCAR history with her 10th-place finish in the Nationwide Series standings, the highest finish for a female in any of the stock car racing organization's three national series.

The trophy she received Monday night might be a little more special. Patrick won the most popular driver award for the series in voting conducted online.

In some ways, Patrick should win the award. She has more than 670,000 Twitter followers and drove for the most popular team, JR Motorsports, in the series.

Still, it felt good for Patrick, 30-year-old former IndyCar driver. She spent two years running 10 races in the series—and therefore ineligible for the award—before moving to NASCAR full time in 2012.

Patrick has a strong fan base, but she is a somewhat polarizing figure. Many fans think she does not deserving of her ride. But her legions of fans voted online, as proven with the honor announced Friday night at the postseason awards banquet at the Loews Miami Beach hotel.

"If it would have gone to somebody else, there would have definitely been an element of thought that I need to spend more time here (to be accepted), I need to be here longer and I need to prove to them that this is what I care about," Patrick said.

"I care about it tremendously and it would have just been something I would have needed to prove it to them more (if I didn't win)."

The four other finalists were the top three finishers in the series standings—Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (58,000 Twitter followers), Elliott Sadler (125,000 followers) and Austin Dillon (71,000)—as well as Johanna Long (23,000).

"There are a lot of people in NASCAR that have a lot of fan favorites, and I'm new and so I don't in any way think that this one is a given," said Patrick, who will compete primarily in the Sprint Cup Series next year.
Source: aol.sportingnews.com/nascar/story/2012-11-19/danica-patrick-voted-most-popular-driver-nascar-nationwide-series

Danica Patrick, Dale Earnhardt Jr. prove you don't have to win to be NASCAR's most popular driver


You know you're a NASCAR fan if . . .

Please make up your own joke; plenty of people have. I'm not here to join the parade. I merely want to point out a possible reason why non-fans snicker at the sport.

NASCAR fans value image over achievement. You could easily conclude that the worse a driver is, the more fans will like him — or her.

The latest proof came this week when Danica Patrick was named the Nationwide Series most popular driver. We can only presume that Paul Hospenthal did not have a vote.

He's Danica's soon-to-be ex. She announced the pending divorce Wednesday. Hopefully she had a good pre-nup and gets to keep the one career win they had between them.

I don't mean to make light of any breakup, but this development will only increase Patrick's mass appeal. Even more guys will vote for her, thinking it will impress her if they ever meet at a red light.

Good luck with that, Casanova.

There's only one man worthy of being the next Mr. Patrick. That's the winner of the past nine Sprint Cup most popular driver awards, Dale Earnhardt Jr.

He'll probably win again when the award is announced next week. That would be like Chevy Chase winning his 10th consecutive Academy Award for best actor, though Junior merely has to be himself to be rewarded.

That's fine. Popularity is measured a million ways. NASCAR fans are just unique in how checkered flags aren't a measurement.

But isn't the whole point to win? I'm not saying a driver has to lap the field, but shouldn't there be some accountability?

To be fair, Earnhardt actually won a race this season. It broke a 143-race losing streak and gave him four wins in the past eight years.

Four.

Jimmie Johnson has one more Sprint Cup title than that, and NASCAR crowds treat him like warm, stale beer.

Fans often resent teams that win too much. It's the Yankees Syndrome. The difference is that baseball fans aren't also lining up to buy Chone Figgins jerseys.

No, Derek Jeter had the best-selling baseball jersey last year. Derrick Rose took the honor in the NBA, and Aaron Rodgers had the most popular NFL jersey. You can say Jeter's living a little off the past (although he just had a career year), but you can't say the three guys didn't produce.

If a baseball player has one hit in 143 at-bats, he's a lot more likely to have his car egged than be voted Mr. Popularity. Why if you didn't know better, you might even think Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s popularity is based on being named Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Again, that's fine. Popularity is in the eyes of the beholder. But Johnson's a nice guy. He's kind to animals. He looks good in Wrangler's. He must be asking, "What do I have to do get some love?"

Two words:

Sex change.

That assumes Patrick's popularity is based on her looks, and not the fact that she has one win in 183 career NASCAR and IndyCar races. I know what you're saying.

"Noooo way, you chauvinist swine. She won the Nationwide contest based on four top-10 finishes in 33 races and she led 41 out of 5,486 laps."

Who am I to argue with that? What's more, who is Ricky Stenhouse Jr. to argue?

All he did was have 26 top-10 finishes and six wins to capture his second consecutive Nationwide title. That and a bikini wax will get him a token audition as the next Go Daddy model.

When it comes to NASCAR popularity, the simple fact is success doesn't compute. And with Danica's divorce, we can now entertain a match made in marketing heaven.

Junior, meet Danica.

Danica, meet Junior.

Sparks fly. Paint gets traded. They get married. The ceremony is open to the public, so it's held at Daytona International Speedway in front of 200,000 adoring witnesses.

A limo is supposed to whisk the happy couple to victory lane. It gets lost since nobody inside knows how to get there.

In a couple of years, Danica Earnhardt Jr. is born. She is given a toy fire truck for Christmas and is immediately voted NASCAR's most popular driver.

Based on history, only one thing could turn fans against Danica Jr.

She might actually start winning.
Source: aol.sportingnews.com/nascar/story/2012-11-21/danica-patrick-dale-earnhardt-jr-nascar-most-popular-drivers?icid=maing-grid10%7Chtmlws-main-bb%7Cdl17%7Csec1_lnk2%26pLid%3D237199

Patrick becomes top-finishing female


Despite 10th-place showing, driver says she had hoped for more this season.

With her 13th-place finish in Saturday's Ford EcoBoost 300, the Nationwide Series season finale, Danica Patrick secured 10th place in the standings, the best championship showing for a female driver in one of NASCAR's top three touring series.

"It is nice to know that statistic, of course, but I always hope for more,'' said Patrick, insisting she wasn't aware of the historical significance of her effort. "We came back at the end of the year to put ourselves in top 10 in points. It would have been nice to have a couple top-fives and the points from the road races that went wrong. But everyone says that at the end of the year."

It took 63 years for someone to better the late Sara Christian's mark of 13th place in the 1949 Strictly Stock Series points standings.

In Patrick's first full Nationwide season after a historic seven-year IndyCar career, she already has set records for female NASCAR competitors including leading the most laps in a single race (20 in the 2012 Montreal race), highest race finish (fourth at Las Vegas in 2011) and most career laps led (60). Patrick is the second woman to win a national series pole position (Daytona, 2012).

Next season, she will become the first woman to compete full-time in the Sprint Cup Series with Stewart-Haas Racing.

Patrick made international headlines by leading and nearly winning the 2005 Indianapolis 500 as a rookie. In 2008, she became the first woman to win a major open-wheel race at Motegi, Japan.

But the 30-year-old always has insisted her motivation in competing is to win races. Any trailblazing she does for her gender is a bonus, not necessarily the intent.

"I had a lot to expect when I started the year off, and that's what put me in a bit of an unhappy place after the second race in Phoenix," Patrick said. "I just expected it to go better right off the bat and be a little bit easier, but it just wasn't. After race two, I just started setting more realistic goals. And sometimes you have to change them. From one year to the next, things change, cars change, teams change and you have to sort of adapt.

"You have to find little victories every weekend because it's a long season. Even if making a mistake taught me a lesson, you've got to come away with that."
Source: www.nationwide.nascar.com/nationwide-series/news/121117/dpatrick-highest-finish-by-woman/index.html

Danica likes fit with new, old-school crew chief


Danica Patrick will admit, she likes to buy fancy things. She likes to eat in fancy restaurants. She likes to drink fancy wine. But when it comes to racing, she's old-school at heart.

"It's more fun, to be honest," she said Friday at Texas Motor Speedway. "It's just more fun. I think back to being a kid and go-kart racing, and that sort of style is why I love NASCAR in general. Everything from the language to describe the car, to the style of people and camaraderie. It just reminds me of growing up and racing all over the East Coast and the South. It's more normal to me than probably what I did for over 10 years."

That would be racing in open-wheel cars, first in Europe and then on the IndyCar tour. Those throwback sensibilities are a big reason why Patrick feels so comfortable with her new crew chief, Tony Gibson, with whom she's working with for the first time during the Sprint Cup weekend in Fort Worth. Gibson is old-school to the core, dating back to his days with Bill Elliott, Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt Inc. He and his new driver probably won't be sharing a nice cabernet anytime soon. But when it comes to the race cars, they seem on the same wavelength, which to Gibson is what matters most.

Gibson replaces Stewart-Haas Racing competition director Greg Zipadelli on the No. 10 pit box, and will also oversee Patrick's full-time Sprint Cup effort next season. He remembers how well Patrick got along with Tony Eury Jr., her first crew chief on the Nationwide Series, and sees himself cut from the same cloth.

"I just think the biggest thing is, Tony Jr. and Danica got along really well, and I worked with Tony Jr., we're great friends, and we worked together for several years at DEI," Gibson said. "So I think [marrying] us together is a better fit. It's a good fit for my race team. We're old-school, redneck racers ... and I think that fits Danica pretty good. I think they've done a good job as a company at Stewart-Haas putting the right people with Danica, and her with us. Because we're going to grow together. We're going to grow fast. There are going to be some bumps in the road. But my team is ready for that."

And indeed, the whole of what was once SHR's No. 39 team is following Gibson, who most recently worked with Ryan Newman. "Everybody on the 39 had an option as to what they wanted to do as a team," Gibson said. "It took them about 30 seconds to answer back that they were on board."

Patrick will compete in Sprint Cup events at Texas and Phoenix as she also winds down her full-time Nationwide efforts. Goals next season, Gibson said, will be "small and achievable," like finishing practice in the far left column on the scoring monitor. Success will be determined less by results than by how well the team communicates and bonds together, and Patrick's new crew chief sees the final races of this year as crucial toward that effort.

"We don't want her to adapt to our setups, we want to adapt to her driving style," Gibson said. "So these two races will be crucial in getting a head start on that, so over the winter time we can make plans and do some testing and get further on down the road. She has the capability of winning races. She's a winner. So we don't have to teach her how to win. We just have to make sure our race team is solid and can ... give her the things she needs to win in the Cup Series."

And do a little old-school bonding to boot. Although Patrick made her name in open-wheel cars, and clearly hasn't closed the door on another run at the Indianapolis 500, she said NASCAR reminds her more of where she started, racing go-karts 40 or 50 times a year. The people, the atmosphere, the schedule, the terminology -- to her, it all feels so much more natural than the circuit that made her a star.

"It's more normal to me than probably what I was doing," Patrick said. "From the first time I got in a stock car, it was at [Walt Disney World] Speedway several years ago, and I pulled out onto the track and I was like -- oh my God, what have I been doing? I feel like I'm at home. I felt comfortable, and felt like I was where I was supposed to be."

No wonder she and Gibson seem so content together. "Opposites attract," the crew chief joked. Maybe one day, they'll even split a bottle of wine (or a red beer.).

Related:

Challenging schedule getting Patrick prepared
Borland to Newman with Gibson's move to Patrick
Source: www.nascar.com/news/121102/dpatrick-tgibson-texas/index.html

NewsGibson likely to be with Patrick in 2013


We now know an important detail of Danica Patrick's move to full-time Sprint Cup Series competition next season.

Stewart-Haas Racing competition director Greg Zipadelli said Saturday the most likely scenario is for the crew -- and crew chief Tony Gibson -- currently working on the No. 39 Chevrolet driven by Ryan Newman to move to Patrick for 2013.

"Right now, we're kind of looking at what's best for her and surrounding her with the best people we can," Zipadelli said. "They [No. 39 crew] are upbeat and positive, and that's the important thing. And they've worked together with a lot of different drivers.

"I have a lot of respect for [Tony] Gibson, his glass is always half-full, he's always upbeat with what he does. So right now, that's how I look at it. It's easier to do this than it is to bring somebody else in that we don't know as well as him. His disposition and his attitude, I think, will add a lot to her and that program."

Patrick said Saturday she hadn't heard any final decision yet but was very enthusiastic about the prospect of working with Gibson and crew.

"There's been lots of ideas thrown around," said Patrick who will be making her seventh Cup start Sunday at Dover International Speedway. "But I've liked Tony since the first time I met him. He's level-headed, I've always thought. He listens to me when I'm talking, and that always means a lot, and I feel like I always get respect from him.

"That's the culture that Tony Stewart and all the guys there create: everybody's happy. He [Gibson] definitely has a good crew, and I get along with those guys a lot.

"Whatever happens, I'm sure it will be a great scenario for me. When things have been talked about -- especially from the crew chief perspective -- the answer I have is, 'I trust you.'"
Source: www.nascar.com/news/120929/dpatrick-to-get-rnewman-cup-crew/index.html

Danica Patrick Raises Awareness of COPD, the Disease That Killed Her Grandmother


NASCAR and IndyCar champ Danica Patrick is encouraging people at risk of COPD to take an online screening test

Danica Patrick credits her vivacious personality to her "Grandma Barb," who died at the age of 61 from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, also known as COPD. A lifelong smoker, her grandmother spent her last few years were in a wheelchair, hooked up to oxygen. Since 2010, Patrick has been a spokesperson for DRIVE4COPD, a NASCAR sponsor that aims to raise awareness of the benefits of early detection of COPD.

More on COPD and Danica Patrick:

Danica Patrick on Achieving Your Dreams
Pulmonary Rehabilitation Gets COPD Patients Moving
Could You Have COPD and Not Know It?
Source: www.everydayhealth.com/copd/danica-patrick-raises-awareness-of-COPD-the-disease-that-killed-her-grandmother.aspx?xid=aol_eh-genvid_8_20120924_&aolcat=HLT&icid=maing-grid10%7Chtmlws-main-bb%7Cdl11%7Csec1_lnk3%26pLid%3D212848

Danica adjusting to new crew chief


Danica Patrick makes her first start of the season with new crew chief Ryan Pemberton atop the pit box.

Originally brought in to be a consultant at JR Motorsports when the team announced it was replacing competition director Tony Eury Sr. last week, Pemberton was quickly elevated to replace the elder Eury, and then added crew chief duties when Eury's son, Tony Jr., also was released from the organization earlier this week.

"I think it's safe to say it has been an eventful week for our GoDaddy team and pretty much everybody at JR Motorsports, for that matter," Patrick said. "It's going to be critical that we keep our focus going into this weekend. We still have seven races left on the schedule and getting solid finishes through the end of the year is important for our team."

Patrick is currently ranked 11th in the Nationwide standings, a massive 365 points behind Stenhouse, but comes into Saturday's race just 16 points out of the top 10. She is completing her final full-time season in the Nationwide Series; she'll jump full time to Cup in 2013.

As for working with the veteran Pemberton for the remaining seven races, Patrick is ready.

"I'm going to do my best to get acclimated with Ryan this week," Patrick said. "I think that will be easier said than done. There's no doubt it will be challenging and we won't have a lot of time to do it in.

"Chemistry is important for a driver and crew chief, so I'm hopeful we get adjusted to each other quickly. I don't know a whole lot about him, but what I do know is that he has a wealth of experience and comes well recommended."
Source: www.nascar.com/nationwide-series/news/120922/notebook-kentucky-esadler-kbusch-dpatrick/index.html

Patrick, Whitt Score Top-15 Finishes at Chicago


Danica Patrick’s 12th-place finish in Dollar General 300 at Chicagoland Speedway was the No. 7 team’s 13th top-15 finish of the season and the best result for the JR Motorsports contingent in Saturday’s race. Patrick posted solid and consistent times through the event, even cracking the top-10 following a lap-50 restart. A long green-flag run then ensued, trapping the GoDaddy.com team a lap down. Patrick kept her poise and scored the free pass on the next caution. Once back on the lead lap, she improved a position before the finish. Cole Whitt and the No. 88 Degree Men team showed promise in the early stages of the race, but it was abruptly halted when the No. 31 of Justin Allgaier made contact with the 88 Chevrolet, cutting down the left rear tire and sending Whitt into a spin. The team pitted several times for repairs, and despite restarting 22nd and being forced to earn its lap back, Whitt drove back to 14th prior to the checkered flag.

Danica Patrick, driver No. 7 GoDaddy.com team

“We were pretty much just loose in (to the turns) and loose off all day. The second-to-last run was probably about as loose as it had been all day. I was getting a little flustered where I had to buckle down to make the laps and wait for the yellow.

“The results are just the egotistical measure. You always want to finish well. Also, your fans and the people supporting you want to see you do well result-wise, too. I want to give it to them. We’ve just got to keep at it. Eventually, the competition will make you better.”
Source: www.jrmracing.com/news/2012/09/15/patrick-whitt-score-top-15-finishes-at-chicago

Danica Patrick makes sixth Cup start her best


There were different agendas, all going around together Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway, and Danica Patrick was right in the middle of it. As Sprint Cup's most successful 12 drivers began the 10-race Chase for the Cup, Patrick commenced the second half of her 10-race schedule at NASCAR's highest level.

It began with the best result of her six-race Sprint Cup career, as Patrick overcame a starting position of 41 and a menacingly loose No. 10 Chevrolet to finish 25th. Patrick's previous best Cup result had been consecutive 29th-place finishes at Bristol and Atlanta.

"I think we made a lot of progress in the race," said Patrick, who was 12th in the Nationwide race at the 1.5-mile Joliet, Ill., track Saturday. "I think [Stewart-Haas race strategist Greg Zipadelli] did a good job of changing the car and making good changes each time.

"We got a little bit loose toward the end, I feel like lost a little bit of ground in that run. But then in the last run, I felt like we got a little bit of that back. If anything we were a little tight. Be careful what you ask for, I guess.

"Ultimately, I think it was generally a big improvement on overall lap time throughout a run, and that is the kind of stuff we need to be doing."

Patrick, who is scheduled to commence a full-time Sprint Cup campaign next year, finished two laps down as eventual race-winner Brad Keselowski was able to pass with 27 remaining. Otherwise, she spent most of the second half of the race attempting to catch Sprint Cup veteran Jeff Burton and Juan Pablo Montoya to be the top scored car one lap down.

In the oddity that is the Chase, non-qualifiers compete along with the championship-eligible drivers. Patrick's charge was even odder in that her Cup schedule -- and for that matter, her first full Nationwide season concurrently -- is a season-long test session.

Patrick and crew were cognizant of the Chase drivers around, with spotter Tab Boyd informing her of their proximity on the track and Zipadelli attempting to keep her from interfering with Jeff Gordon, whose pit stall was close to hers.

Patrick was lapped by championship-eligible, five-time series champion, Jimmie Johnson on Lap 35 as she dealt with a loose car, and the team eschewed taking the wave-around back onto the lead lap on an early caution so it could pit and improve handling.

Patrick was able to race against a Chase driver on Lap 168 as Matt Kenseth's No. 17 Ford became hobbled and slow because of a lost shock absorber. Kenseth's problems preceded a wave of attrition -- including a stuck throttle that caused Gordon to crash -- which helped Patrick slide higher up the scoring pylon and to her career-best result.

Patrick resumes her Cup schedule at Dover International Speedway on Sept. 30.
Source: espn.go.com/espnw/more-sports/8388662/espnw-sixth-cup-start-danica-patrick-best

Danica Patrick and Brad Sweet clash again


Danica Patrick admitted before her fourth career Nationwide Series race at Chicagoland Speedway that home games can be taxing. Raised less than two hours away in Roscoe, Ill., Patrick hosted more friends, family and guests than usual this weekend, some even from the just-over-the-border Canadian wing of the clan.

"You want to make time for them for making the effort to support you," she said. "In my situation, which is trying to create realistic expectations, low expectations for the people coming to the track, basically you are not going to see me until after the race.

"Something like that, so they don't get their hope up and think they are going to spend an hour hanging out with me knocking back beers before the race."

After finishing 12th Saturday, Patrick might have been in the mood to knock back a few, if for no other reason than to vent about the last 10 laps. And Brad Sweet likely would not have been invited.

An otherwise satisfactory-enough finish became a source of agitation in the waning laps as Patrick became enraged with the tactics of constant foil Sweet. Patrick was 12th and pursuing 11th-place Justin Allgaier when the lapped, 15th-place car of Sweet began pressing her.

She, on numerous occasions, requested spotter Tab Boyd to ask Sweet through his spotter for some consideration, since they weren't racing for position. But Sweet never relented, passing Patrick with 10 laps left and hunkering down in the line she had been using to catch up with Allgaier, prompting her to growl over team radio, "Find ... his ... spotter."

Patrick had fallen nearly five seconds behind Allgaier and just seven laps remained by the time she was able to pass Sweet again.

Patrick and Sweet have occupied the same space at the same time on several occasions this season, the most cataclysmic their collision late in the race at Dover and at Richmond a few weeks ago when Patrick accidentally drove up into him, sending her into the wall. She quickly admitted her mistake at Richmond.

Patrick's 26th race of her first full-time Nationwide season was statistically unremarkable, as she finished in the same position in which she started, running as high as 11th on Lap 44 of 200.

She battled a No. 7 Chevrolet that skewed loose and was borderline unmanageable for much of the race, according to her diagnosis on team radio. Patrick raced on the lead lap all except during one brief sequence on Lap 123, when leader Austin Dillon passed just before a caution. She was instantly allowed back onto the lead lap as the highest-scored lapped car, however.

Patrick remained 11th in the Nationwide driver points standings, 365 behind leader Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and 16 behind 10th-place Brian Scott.
Source: espn.go.com/espnw/more-sports/8383720/espnw-danica-patrick-brad-sweet-clash-again

Patrick still waiting for the other shoe to drop


Staying positive becoming more difficult as she prepares for Bristol double-duty

Danica Patrick is past the point of waiting for the other shoe to drop on her NASCAR season.

Less than one week after running over a shoe that appeared to contribute to her demise on an afternoon when she might have had a winning car at Montreal, a weary-looking Patrick met with the media early Friday morning at Bristol Motor Speedway. Her media availability was scheduled for first thing because she had a busy day ahead of her -- practices for both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup races, plus qualifying for both Nationwide and Cup races and then, under the Friday night lights, the Food City 250 Nationwide race.

"Obviously we're very busy with the Cup and the Nationwide," Patrick said. "It will be nice to sleep in until 3 o'clock or whatever it is I can sleep into [Saturday]."

Then she will have to get right back to work. After driving the No. 7 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports in Friday's Nationwide event, she'll be behind the wheel of the No. 10 Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing in Saturday night's Irwin Tools Night Race on the Cup side. It will be her fourth Cup race of the season, but her first since the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 27.

Patrick finished 30th in that race, and it's her highest Cup finish of the season. She finished 38th in the season-opening Daytona 500 and 31st at Darlington in her other two Cup starts.

But as her boss at Stewart-Haas Racing often likes to point out, it's not about where Patrick finishes in her Cup races this season. It's more about if she finishes.

"We've got 500 laps here [Saturday] night," Patrick said. "It's twice the distance of our Nationwide race. So finishing all the laps is the most important for me -- getting that seat time and trying to get a feel for how the track changes, working on the car throughout the race. Just getting used to the distance. I've always said that there is a rhythm to a race -- and to get a feel for that, you've got to do the whole thing.

"Tony picked what he thought were the toughest races of the year for me to run. So keeping that in mind, finishing all the laps will be the goal for [Saturday] night."

Patrick has had loftier goals on the Nationwide side this season, but has encountered difficulty in reaching them while running her first full-time NASCAR schedule. She has one top-10 in 22 starts -- an eighth at Texas in April -- and currently sits 11th in the points standings.

But she's shown flashes of potential, leading 14 laps in the July race at Daytona and 20 last Saturday at Montreal before someone threw the shoe on the track that may have derailed her chances of winning. After running over the shoe, she eventually developed mechanical problems that relegated her to a 27th-place finish.

"Who throws a shoe? I mean, really?" said Patrick, borrowing a line from an Austin Powers movie she said has been repeated to her often over the past six days. "I think it was dark, with a light-colored sole. It looked really funny on the video. It looked like it disappeared [underneath the car].

"But it sucked."

It seems that Patrick adopted the stance of having to laugh about it to keep from crying.

"It was disappointing. We were looking forward to having a shot to win," Patrick said. "That happened when we were in the lead. Whether it was what caused the [mechanical] problem or not, I don't know. But it definitely was what ended up leading toward the end of our day.

"We were just looking to have a good result. I can't tell you how many people said after Watkins Glen [a week earlier], 'I can't believe how much bad luck you've had.' And then I hit a shoe. I don't feel like it can get a lot worse. I don't know if anyone's ever hit a shoe before -- but it just seems like a very weird situation."

It wasn't the first time she's encountered a weird situation this season, which began with her JR Motorsports teammate, Cole Whitt, inadvertently wrecking her in the first Nationwide race of the season at Daytona. She also had a blown engine finish her day early in Fontana and additional accidents take her out prematurely in five other events, including the Lap 2 melee at Watkins Glen.

"I'm ready for it to turn. I'm ready for some good luck. I'm ready for some good results," she said. "The team has been working extremely hard. That doesn't change whether we finish first or last. But it's nice to get rewarded with a good finish sometimes, and I think we're all looking forward to that.

"I can't remember ever having this much bad luck. Ever. I don't ever remember feeling like I just can't seem to catch a break for so long, and it's such a big waste sometimes. So I don't know. We'll have to see."

That's the same stance she's adopting toward her Cup experience this weekend. She admitted there are times when she wonders if Stewart's decision to have her run the more difficult Cup venues to prepare for her 2013 full-time foray into that series will eventually pay off.

"I don't think knowing whether it's going to beneficial at this point is really possible. The part where we'll know if it is beneficial will come next year when either I feel much more comfortable coming back to those tracks and have better results, or something like that," Patrick said.

"At this point in time, it's about gaining the experience. And what's the saying? Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger? I'm sure it will help in the long run. But until we get to next year and know how I feel, we won't really be able to decide whether these races helped or not. As long as I can keep my head up and stay confident, and stay looking forward and stay upbeat, I think they will serve that purpose. There is always that chance that these are humbling moments, especially being at the tough tracks that they are and the tough races that they are. I've just got to focus on staying positive."

Staying positive no doubt was difficult to do after Patrick struggled mightily during both of Friday's two Cup practices. Her top lap ranked 47th of the 47 cars that participated in both practices, and her top lap of 117.732 mph in the final practice was more than 5 mph off the pace set by Joey Logano, who was fastest.

Stewart said he expected the former open-wheel star to struggle, and that, in a way, was the point behind his decision to put Patrick on the toughest tracks in NASCAR during her limited Cup schedule.

"The biggest thing is she's going to have to try to run these tracks eventually anyway," Stewart said. "This is a scenario this year where she's not racing for points and it's more of a learning year, so you want to take her to the hardest places first to at least give her that opportunity to gain some experience before she has to come back to them next year when she's running for points.

"It's not meant to be easy. It's supposed to be hard. It's supposed to be frustrating. You're supposed to leave here scratching your head, wondering. But that's part of the learning curve of joining this sport. I'm sure at the end of the year she's going to hate me, but when she comes back to these track next year, it's going to make sense to her why we brought her here this year."

Patrick certainly was feeling positive while leading the Nationwide race at Montreal -- before the errant shoe dropped in front of her.

"Whenever I'm leading or running really well and feel like I've got a chance to win, I always feel really calm," she said. "I always feel like I'm where I'm supposed to be, and I feel a sense of focus. But most of all, I feel calm. That's how I felt. ... It's a really peaceful view when you're out front. There are still mirrors, but it's really peaceful when you look out and there's no one in front of you. So I felt good.

"It was just a bummer of a weekend, the way it turned out. That's all right. We made a good showing. We ran well all weekend and led a lot of laps, had a lot of good restarts. We'll just take that and move on."
Source:/www.nationwide.nascar.com/nationwide-series/news/120824/dpatrick-bristol-staying-positive/index.html

Danica Patrick's day doomed by shoe thrown on track


While leading the race, Patrick ran over a shoe thrown on the track. That possibly caused some damage and a few laps later, she had a bar that holds the rear-end housing come loose, which eventually required her to pit three times under caution.

She got back out on the track before going to the garage on lap 55 of the 74-lap race with a broken axle and ending any hopes of winning.

The JR Motorsports driver finished six laps down in 27th place, but thought she had a chance until the broken axle because she was done pitting for the day and could have made it the rest of the way on fuel while the rest of the field would have had to pit.

“We were fine and got back out there and … we basically were the leader because all the leaders had to come in and we were done stopping,” Patrick said in an interview with the Motor Racing Network after the race. “But in the end, when the axle broke, that’s all she wrote.

And the shoe? Well that was just another part of a season where Patrick—who remains 11th in the Nationwide Series standings despite her finish—seems to have found trouble and it came just a week after she ran into a spinning car on the first lap at Watkins Glen.

“I ran over a shoe. … What can you do about luck?” Patrick said. “It was just one of those things. Hopefully it can turn right for us sometime soon. That would be nice.”
Source: aol.sportingnews.com/nascar/story/2012-08-18/danica-patrick-shoe-montreal-nationwide-race-jacques-villeneuve-who-threw-shoe?icid=maing-grid10%7Chtmlws-sb-bb%7Cdl4%7Csec1_lnk3%26pLid%3D194246

Danica Patrick must step up, or she'll face even more scrutiny in 2013


Danica Patrick will run another road-course race this weekend, and that’s about the last thing she needs right now.

Patrick, the former IndyCar star, is not known for her road-racing prowess, though she did have some nice finishes in IndyCar road races.

Danica Patrick will run another road-course race this weekend, and that’s about the last thing she needs right now.

Patrick, the former IndyCar star, is not known for her road-racing prowess, though she did have some nice finishes in IndyCar road races.

In NASCAR, the winding, curvy roads have been about like her transition to stock-car racing—treacherous.

She was running fourth at Road America in June when road-racing ace Jacques Villeneuve punted her.

Then, last week at Watkins Glen, she didn’t even make it through the first turn on the first lap before she slammed into a spinning Ryan Truex and finished last.

That about sums up Patrick’s luck and performance this year. Either she runs well and gets wrecked or she struggles and produces another mediocre or poor finish.

To say that Patrick, America’s premier female racer, has struggled in her first full NASCAR season would be a gross understatement.

Stunk is more like it.

And the honest and forthright Patrick likely wouldn’t argue with that.

Her first full season in the Nationwide Series has been far from what she expected and far below the expectations placed on her pretty head.

She’s shown some modest improvement and some slight progress, but it’s hard to notice that amid all the wrecks and poor results.

In 21 Nationwide races, she has just one top-10 finish—eighth at Texas in April. She has a few 12th- and 13th-place runs, but she’s also wrecked at Daytona (twice), Iowa, Dover, Indy and Watkins Glen.

Most of the crashes weren’t her fault, and some could be attributed to just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. But Patrick has found herself in the wrong place way too often in a season pockmarked with disappointment.

After two part-time seasons in the Nationwide Series, many expected her to contend for wins and possibly the series championship. Instead, she’s 11th in points in a series in which only 13 drivers have attempted to run competitively in every race.

She trails one driver (Joe Nemechek) who has one fewer start than her and the full-time drivers she is ahead of race for small, underfunded teams.

Her rookie teammate, Cole Whitt, has outperformed her despite being younger and having far less racing experience.

Though she has had a few bright moments—she led 13 laps before getting wrecked at Daytona in July—her performance has been highly disappointing for a driver on the cusp of moving to NASCAR’s elite series.

Is she ready for Sprint Cup?

At this point, that question is not even debatable.

She’s run three Cup races so far and finished 38th, 31st and 30th.

MORE: Dale Jarrett, Andy Petree says Danica will struggle big time in 2013

In her defense, she got caught up in a Lap-2 wreck that was not her fault in the Daytona 500. At Darlington and Charlotte, she finished the race but was just plain bad, finishing a combined 11 laps off the pace.

That she completed both races without any kind of trouble was considered a victory in a grand experiment that has gone terribly wrong so far.

Over the next three weeks, Patrick will run three Nationwide and two Sprint Cup races. She will run seven of the final 13 Cup races, beginning next week at Bristol—a race that must be looming like a nightmare for her.

It’s time for her to step up and show that she can not only drive these cars, but race them competitively. She needs to finish strong in the Nationwide Series and prove that she at least can be competitive in Sprint Cup.

If not, she will face even greater pressure and scrutiny next season when she attempts to run the full Cup schedule for Stewart-Haas Racing.

If she leaps to Cup after such mediocre results in Nationwide, it will merely confirm what many fans already believe—that she’s getting her shot with an elite Cup team simply because she’s a woman, one with the distinct advantage of being pretty and popular.

Patrick took a huge risk when she made this move. She had a budding open-wheel career and was IndyCar’s biggest star. She could have continued to attract competitive rides and might have won more races.

If she continues to flop in NASCAR, she will face a million I-Told-You-Sos and risk jeopardizing her reputation as the best female driver in motorsports history, which in turn could damage her reputation as a sponsor’s dream.

She doesn’t need to fail, and NASCAR doesn’t need her to.

As a woman competing in a predominately male sport, Patrick is a huge story and attracts media attention wherever she goes. Though many fans don’t like it, and rival drivers resent it, she attracts more media attention and generates more Internet traffic than any NASCAR driver not named Earnhardt Jr.

She is as polarizing as Kurt and Kyle Busch, but for different reasons.

Many fans love her because she is attempting to do something no woman has ever done. She is a trailblazer and an underdog.

Others hate her because they believe she’s getting her opportunity simply because she’s an attractive woman, while more deserving drivers don’t get the same breaks.

Regardless of which side you fall on, Patrick is a legitimate star. Her record on the track may not prove it yet, but her exuberant and engaging personality and marketing prowess bring two valuable assets to the sport—sponsors and global exposure.

Her magnetism, star power and gender have attracted attention and a following, valuable commodities in a sport struggling to sell tickets and hang on to its respectable TV ratings.

Patrick needs to succeed and NASCAR needs her to shine. But to do that, she must add the other piece to the puzzle—performance.

It’s time for her to step up and prove that she’s more than a media darling and just another pretty face.

It’s time to prove that she indeed has the full package.
Source: aol.sportingnews.com/nascar/story/2012-08-17/danica-patrick-news-nationwide-series-struggles-sprint-cup

Patrick says car capable of winning Indy 500 vital for return


Danica Patrick says that before committing to compete in the Indianapolis 500 again she wants a car capable of winning.

Patrick, who as an IZOD IndyCar Series rookie in 2005 made headlines by becoming the first woman to lead laps in the 500 Mile Race, in her first season competing in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.

"I would love to do it; I’ve said that all along," Patrick said July 26 at the Speedway. "I love the race. I feel like it was always one of my strongest races of the year in IndyCar.”

In seven races at the 2.5-mile oval with Rahal Letterman Racing and Andretti Green Racing/Andretti Autosport, she had six top-10 finishes, with a high of third in 2009. Patrick also led 10 laps in the 2011 race, in which she advanced 15 positions relative to her starting spot to finish 10th.

“Maybe it will happen, maybe it won't, but I can tell you the only way it's going to happen if it's with someone I really feel I can have a shot to go out there and win because it's unfair to the history I've had here and to my memory to do anything less than that,” Patrick added. “I wouldn't want to wreck anything I've experienced here with something to take away from that.

“So if we do it, it'll be with a shot to be able to win. On top of that, there's just a whole lot of logistical issues to iron out if that were to be the case. But, first and foremost, a good car.” Patrick, 30, of Roscoe, Ill., said being at the Speedway is special.

“I don't care what I drive around this track, I love being here,” she said. “I just like everything about it. I like the facility, obviously, and to me the special thing about Indy is obviously I've had great experiences, but it's about the track. It doesn't matter what kind of car I come in here, I've had great experiences, memories. So that's what I like so much about it. And I love the tradition.

“The older I get, the more I realize how much history and tradition plays a role in what's important and what matters and what means the most to you.”
Source: www.indycar.com/en/News/2012/07-July/7-26-Patrick-wants-serious-effort-to-return-to-Indy

Stewart, Patrick hope familiarity helps at Indy


Tony Stewart says after getting his initial victory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2005, the pressure on him for a popular hometown win evaporated. It doesn't mean he wants another Brickyard victory any less.

Stewart, a Columbus, Ind., native, will vie for a third Indy triumph in Sunday's Crown Royal Curtiss Shaver 400 at 1 p.m. ET in the Sprint Cup Series' 19th visit to the hallowed Indy track.

Being competitive in his own backyard has come easy to Stewart, who also won at Indianapolis in 2007, as his impressive average finish of 8.1 is the best of any stock-car driver in the field. The performance edge has made it that much easier to call the 2.5-mile track home.

"Probably the best part is we have so many friends and family that get to come up to the Brickyard," Stewart said. "That makes the days even that much better.

"As far as putting pressure on ourselves, I don't think we really do that anymore," Stewart added. "As time has gone on, I think after we won that first one in 2005, it's just taken a huge weight off our shoulders on that side, and we just go at it every year with the attitude that we know what it takes to win there and we try to do our best to accomplish it."

Another reason some of the pressure has subsided this season is Stewart's relatively firm footing as the cutoff for the Chase for the Sprint Cup postseason berths approach. Stewart ranks seventh in the series standings, but he's in a tight knot of drivers on the edge of qualifying for the playoffs by making the top 10; only nine points separate sixth-place Kevin Harvick from 10th-place Brad Keselowski.

Even with the tenuous grip on a top-10 spot, Stewart's strength stems from his three wins -- tying Keselowski for the most in the series this year. Should either of those two drivers fall from the ranks of the top 10, they would be in prime position for one of two wild-card spots for drivers in positions 11-20 with the most wins.

"I think the biggest thing for us right now, even though it's a big weekend, [is] this is one battle in the war -- and the war is to try to win a championship at the end of the season," Stewart said. "To do that, we have got to beat the system.

"So, I don't think an all-or-nothing attitude is the approach we are going to have this week," Stewart said. "We definitely have that luxury to do that with the three wins that we've got, but I think right now in the big picture, we are trying to get the consistency the best we can, and I would like to see us put together some consistent runs before the Chase actually starts."

Danica determined in Indy homecoming

Danica Patrick will mark her eighth straight year of racing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway this Saturday. It's a solid streak, but this season's trip will be a different beast altogether.

Patrick hopes to build upon her wealth of Indy experience as the Nationwide Series makes its first visit to the 2.5-mile speedway for Saturday's Indiana 250 at 4:30 p.m. ET. While Patrick certainly knows her way around the Brickyard, this will be her first Indy experience in a stock car, which weighs more than twice as much as the IndyCars she used to pilot.

Patrick is no stranger to firsts at Indianapolis -- she became the first woman in track history to lead laps in the 2005 Indianapolis 500 and notched a best finish of third place in the 2009 race.

"I have such good memories and feel so good when I come into the track and just see the facility," Patrick said. "I think those good emotions, those positive emotions a lot of times can translate to a good weekend, so I look forward to that. I look forward to seeing the fans from Indianapolis. My family lives there -- my sister and my parents do now -- so it should be a fun weekend and I look forward to the experience in a stock car."

Saturday's race will also have extra incentive in the form of the Dash 4 Cash program, with points leader Elliott Sadler, defending series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Justin Allgaier and Michael Annett eligible for a $100,000 bonus that goes to the highest finisher among that quartet.

Six-figure payday or not, Sadler -- last week's winner at Chicagoland Speedway -- suggests motivation won't be a problem at one of NASCAR's crown-jewel tracks.

"It's going to be a big deal," Sadler said. "It's always pretty special when you can win the inaugural race anywhere. I was able to do that in St. Louis in 1998 and I still look at that trophy and think that's something no one can take away from you. We're going to go there loaded for bear."

Sadler holds an 11-point edge in the standings over Richard Childress Racing teammate Austin Dillon after 18 of 33 races this year. Stenhouse -- like Sadler, a three-time Nationwide winner this season -- ranks third, 19 points back.
Source: www.nascar.com/news/120727/weekend-preview-indy/index.html

JRM future could have Danica guest appearances


With a self-imposed September deadline in place, JR Motorsports executives hope to finalize their plans for the 2013 Nationwide Series season shortly.

In addition to bringing back Cole Whitt for a second full season, those plans may include having Danica Patrick and Dale Earnhardt Jr. return for limited engagements, according to co-owner and vice president Kelley Earnhardt-Miller.

Patrick expects to move up to the Cup level full time with Stewart-Haas Racing in 2013, but hasn't ruled out the possibility of continuing her relationship with JR Motorsports.

"We'd love to see Danica run some races for us," Earnhardt-Miller said Thursday. "She's indicated that she wants to run in the Nationwide Series. Obviously, Dale Jr. will run again for us. So the No. 7 car could be a mix of what we've called in the past an 'all-star car.' "

Every decision seems to come down to finances, and JR Motorsports is proving to be no exception. Earnhardt-Miller said if a sponsor wants to step up and fund a second full-season program, alternatives will suddenly become available.

"If we get a driver and a sponsor for the whole year for the No. 7, then we'll run a third car like we've done in the past," Earnhardt-Miller said. "We're really just waiting to see how it unfolds. We've got lots of meetings, lots of lines in the water. We've kind of got an internal goal of Sept. 1 to have everything buttoned up."

Earnhardt-Miller said the September deadline gives the team enough lead time to plan for the upcoming season, particularly since the introduction of a new Camaro body style for 2013 will require more work in the shop during the offseason.

Between now and then, the team will sit down with its current sponsors and determine how to proceed.

"We've asked our partners, 'We're just looking for a playbook. Where do you want to be? What's it look like?' Earnhardt-Miller said. "We don't have to have contracts buttoned up by Sept. 1, but we just want to have a really good idea about the funding and where we'll be at -- so we can decide if it's going to be two cars, 2 ½ or 1 1/2 or whatever it might be."

Dale Earnhardt Jr. is currently under contract to run four races in 2013 for the team he co-owns. That could change, but only if there's a significant deal in place, his sister said.

"Obviously, if a sponsor comes along and wants to make a big investment on the No. 88 or the No. 7 -- and it makes sense for us -- we can tie Dale into that," Earnhardt-Miller said. "But it's really hard these days to do three-, four- or five-race deals and add Dale Jr. into that mix. It really takes away from his other sponsors and commitments on the Cup car. It waters down the other relationships we have with what we're doing.

"We're looking for the heavy hitters who want to invest in the sport and invest in our team, and then we can make Dale Jr. a part of that investment."

Overall, Earnhardt-Miller admitted the cars weren't as competitive as they had hoped in the first half of the year, but the team has begun to make gains.

With the exception of Daytona, where both Whitt and Patrick were caught up in crashes, the results are slowly but surely starting to come. Whitt has three top-10 finishes in his past six races, including a ninth at Chicago. And Patrick's put together a nice run of top-15 finishes.

"We worked really hard on our cars," Earnhardt-Miller said. "We've been in the wind tunnel a lot more, working on the [aerodynamics]. These days, it's just the slightest things that are going to make your car a little bit better. You're looking for little things to work and tweak on."

"Our cars have been a lot more competitive. They've been faster in practice and qualifying. For Danica and Cole, with their lack of experience, I think the hurdle has been more of the race itself."

And her view of how Patrick has handled the transition to a full-time stock car driver?

"Overall, I think she's doing a good job for us," Earnhardt-Miller said. "With her, it's not really leading us anywhere; it's more like leading her somewhere -- to compete in the Cup Series next year. We just want to continue to be consistent with the No. 7 car so we can look to put somebody in that next year to replace her."
Source: www.nationwide.nascar.com/nationwide-series/news/120727/dpatrick-jr-motorsports-2017-plans/index.html

Danica Patrick plans partial Nationwide run in 2013


Danica Patrick plans to run a limited Nationwide Series schedule for JR Motorsports in 2013 as she moves to the Sprint Cup series full time for Stewart-Haas Racing.

Kelley Earnhardt-Miller, the co-owner of JRM, said on Thursday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway that Patrick likely will split time in a car with Dale Earnhardt Jr. She said the number of races has yet to be determined.

Earnhardt-Miller said the hope is to run the No. 88 and the No. 7 full time, with possibly a third car (No. 5) part-time with Patrick and Earnhardt. She said there's a possibility that Patrick, Earnhardt and another driver could split the second car if sponsorship can't be found for one driver the entire season.

The plan is to leave Cole Whitt in the No. 88 full time.

GoDaddy.com, which sponsors Patrick in the Nationwide and Cup series, would remain with her in those series in 2013.

Earnhardt-Miller said she has been pleased with Patrick's overall effort in her first full Nationwide season. The former IndyCar star ranks ninth in points heading into Saturday's race, the first in the series at IMS.

"She's done a good job,'' Earnhardt-Miller said. "She's not going out there and wrecking racecars.''
Source: espn.go.com/racing/nascar/nationwide/story/_/id/8202418/danica-patrick-plans-limited-2017-nationwide-run-jr-motorsports

Brickyard 400 Q&A: Danica Patrick excited, confident on return to IMS


Much has changed for Danica Patrick as a NASCAR Nationwide Series full-timer, and yet some aspects of her life remain the same.

There's still the massive amount of attention she receives as the world's most recognizable race car driver. There are still considerable demands on her time, unrealistic expectations and the pressure that comes with being Danica.

She is excited and confident about her return to Indianapolis Motor Speedway, feeling at home as life gets on the road. Today she begins a stock car quest at this track, driving the No. 7 GoDaddy-sponsored NASCAR Nationwide Series car of JR Motorsports.

Patrick has one Top 10 finish and one pole in 18 Nationwide races this season, good for ninth place in the points race after a 14th place finish Sunday at Chicagoland. She addressed a variety of topics in a recent interview:

Question: The changes in your career are obvious, but what is really different about life as a NASCAR driver?

Patrick: "Obviously we're doing a lot more racing, but I feel more than anything the car is always changing, the track is always changing. These are 3,400 pound sleds that you're trying to get to turn in in the corner. It's difficult. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't."

Q: What do you like best about driving them?

Patrick: "There's always somebody to race no matter what your speed is."

Q: Your driver uniform is basically the same, but do you feel different in it?

Patrick: "I feel like I have to be a little more careful now with what I say. I don't think I felt like I was overanalyzed as much in IndyCar; in NASCAR I feel like that is the case. But then again, it is a very popular sport, and it's very covered (by the media)."

Q: With more than the double the number of races as in IndyCar, have you bought a plane to fly you around?

Patrick: "No plane, but I'm not all commercial (flights). Sometimes it's private, sometimes it's commercial; it depends on the city. If the track has an airport close then yes, it's a private plane. Otherwise, no."

Q: Most NASCAR drivers buy planes. Will you?

Patrick: "I will do everything in my power to not buy an airplane unless it gets to the point where it's not a big deal anymore, but that's just a financial situation that I'm not in right now. I have expensive hobbies, so those get more of my money."

Q: What are those hobbies?

Patrick: "Lots of houses. We take very fancy vacations every year. We buy a lot of wine. It's very hard to justify a dollar amount it takes to own a plane and/or flying it four hours to (Phoenix)."

Q: Where have you vacationed?

Patrick: "South Africa last year. We went to New Zealand the year before that. We went to Switzerland. We extended our trip in Australia after the Surfers Paradise race (in IndyCar). We're going to Argentina this year."

Q: Surely you're making more money selling NASCAR merchandise.

Patrick: "Well, the first thing is there are twice as many races; that's a big difference. Yes, the merchandising (revenue) is more, but we're also racing at ovals. Ovals were always a big seller in IndyCar as opposed to the road courses. There's a very hard-core oval audience whether it's NASCAR or IndyCar."

Q: Are you at the track more as a NASCAR driver?

Patrick: "No, actually I'm not (laughing). In fact, I am there a lot less. Sometimes I fly in the day of (the race), like I did in Daytona. I didn't have to be at the track until 2:30, and I flew in that morning. And I don't have to be (at the track) the day before like I did in IndyCar."

Q: What's the difference between the number of appearances -- media and otherwise -- between NASCAR and IndyCar?

Patrick: "I had a lot more obligations in IndyCar. There are still those things in NASCAR but in NASCAR it all counts to the number of appearances you're required to do in a season. Stuff away from the track counts, too."

Q: The IndyCar team you left, Andretti Autosport, is having its best season in years. Ryan Hunter-Reay has won three races and leads the standings. James Hinchcliffe is having a breakout season with the car that would have been yours. Are you paying attention to that?

Patrick: "Of course I watch it, absolutely. I don't watch every race, and I don't watch all of the races I do watch, but I'll turn on (satellite) radio when I'm driving. That's how I listened to the end of the Iowa race."

Q: Are you surprised by their increased level of success?

Patrick: "I know from being in the Chevy camp in NASCAR how hard Chevy works, and I can now look back on last year and look at how involved (in IndyCar) Chevy already was. I remember being here in Indianapolis in the public drivers meeting and Chevy was giving awards away and I thought, 'Why are they so into this?' You could see their commitment."

Q: Do you miss it?

Patrick: "I missed it when I watched (driver) introductions for the 500. I was at Charlotte (Motor Speedway) sitting in my bus. I had one Coke Zero appearance that day with (model) Brooklyn Decker and that's the only time I had to leave the bus during the race. Other than that I watched the whole thing."

Q: You've expressed interest in returning to the 500 in 2013. What kind of odds would you give that?

Patrick: "Fair chance. I'll say 50-50. We're working on it."

Q: Aside from people within the Hendrick Motorsports empire that includes your direct employers, JR Motorsports (Nationwide) and Stewart Haas Racing (Sprint Cup), has the rest of NASCAR been helpful to your transition?

Patrick: "Absolutely. They've been helpful since I was part-time a couple of years ago. I've always had guys coming out to my bus and knocking on the door to offer help or call me. Juan (Montoya) would do that, Casey Mears would do that. Guys were very generous with their time. They'd come see me in driver introductions or after qualifying and talk to me. They're all very helpful."

Q: Did that surprise you?

Patrick: "Not really. I feel like there was a very nice standard established in NASCAR a long time ago that drivers that were better would help other drivers that would come in. It's a cycle that has continued. Drivers have helped them learn, and that's why they're helping drivers like me. It's a nice feeling, especially for someone who doesn't want to step on toes, who doesn't want to be presumptuous."

Q: Are you ready to take the next step forward and win a race?

Patrick: "Absolutely. I wouldn't be here if I didn't think that."
Source: www.indystar.com/article/20120725/SPORTS0109/207260321/Brickyard-400-Q-Danica-Patrick-excited-confident-return-IMS

Kansas race completes Patrick's Cup schedule


Danica Patrick will compete in the Sprint Cup Series' Hollywood Casino 400 on Oct. 21 at Kansas Speedway.

Patrick and the other drivers will have an extra day of practice before the race because the 1.5-mile oval has been resurfaced since the Cup event in April.

"With the testing rules the way they are, we can't test with her at tracks where NASCAR's top three series compete," said Greg Zipadelli, Stewart-Haas Racing competition director. "That extra day of testing will be huge for her. With the amount of 1.5-mile ovals on the schedule, it made sense to have her compete at Kansas to better prepare her for 2013."

The addition of Kansas completes Patrick's 10-race Cup schedule for 2012, which includes races at Bristol, Atlanta, Chicagoland, Dover, Texas and Phoenix. She made her Cup debut in the Daytona 500 and has since competed at Darlington and Charlotte.

Patrick got her first career IndyCar Series pole in July 2005 at Kansas. She qualified third or better in three of her six starts there and had three top-10 finishes. In her only Nationwide Series start at the track last season, she started and finished 15th.

"I've always liked racing at Kansas Speedway," Patrick said. "I think the extra day of testing will be very beneficial, not only to prepare for the race weekend but to learn for the rest of 2012 and looking ahead to 2013 with Stewart-Haas Racing. The more track time I can get, the better."
Source: www.nascar.com/news/120710/dpatrick-adds-kansas-cup-schedule/index.html

Patrick driving in familiar territory


It's not often in Danica Patrick's first full Nationwide Series season that she feels like she has a leg up on her competition.

She's constantly playing catch-up to those around her, and she's still learning the terminology.

But set her loose on a road course, especially one she's seen before, and everything changes. That's what will happen when she starts the Sargento 200 on Saturday at Road America.

"My comfort level is not super high because I haven't done much of it in a stock car," Patrick said of making the right turns. "But as far as coming to a road course, I suppose the tables have turned a little bit. ... I kind of get the feeling from drivers who came up through the stock car ranks that they don't always love coming to road courses."

Not that Patrick always has been the biggest supporter of road racing. She admitted that her time in the IndyCar Series probably poisoned her against road courses, just from the sheer number.

Patrick has seen the 4.048-mile, 14-turn course before, but it was long ago. In 2003, Patrick was running in the Atlantic Championship, a development series for open-wheel racers.

She remembers more than she expected.

"Oddly enough, this is one of those tracks I pretty vividly remember," Patrick said. "Probably because it has so many hills and it's a memorable track. It's definitely unique from a road course perspective, so I remember most all about it."

The track isn't the only thing familiar to Patrick during the visit. She was born in Wisconsin, more than a two-hour drive from the track, and will have quite the cheering section Saturday.

"I just feel like I see a lot of familiar faces when I come up here, people who have been around racing for a long time, especially some of my dad's friends," Patrick said. "Folks show up, and they're people I remember from my childhood and longtime friends of my family. My parents and a bunch of other people have got motorhomes this weekend, and they're cooking out and stopping by for a beer after the race. That's the plan. It just has a comfortable feeling, I think, being here."

Patrick didn't race here last year -- her only road course race in Nationwide was in 2011 at Montreal -- but she watched last year's race on TV and rewatched it to prepare for this weekend. Ron Fellows, a renowned road course racer, is a teammate this week, and she's been leaning on him to figure out what her car needs.

"Sometimes I have the same feelings, but I don't articulate it in the way that guys like that do," Patrick said. "Sometimes it helps me to be able to talk to them and say, 'Yeah, that's exactly ... that's what I'm talking about. That's what it is.' He can put it a little more simply than I do."

This is the 14th race of the season for Nationwide, and with the start, Patrick will have run more races this season than she has in either of her other seasons. That experience of running week in, week out has paid off, she said.

Patrick finished 18th last weekend at Michigan and said it was "a little disappointing" overall, but the rhythm and momentum she's gaining from being in the car regularly instead of sporadically is making a difference.

"Sometimes to take it to the next level, you're going to make some mistakes," she said. "It's trying to find that new limit, and I feel like that happened a couple of times last weekend. Restarts have gotten much better, minus last weekend, and I just had a much, much better pace in practice and through the weekend."

So now she gets to try to apply all that she's learned to the type of track she enjoys and see if she can get that breakout performance she's been striving for all year.

But no matter what happens, the learning curve continues.

"For me, I'm just trying to learn how these stock cars run on road courses," Patrick said. "Montreal, I learned quite a bit, but I'm going to keep on learning and learn how the feelings can translate into making the car better, what you deal with and what you don't need to deal with. I'm looking forward to being here again. This is a fun, educated fan base and they love their road racing, so I'm looking forward to getting out there."
Source: www.nationwide.nascar.com/nationwide-series/news/120623/dpatrick-familiar-road-america/index.html

Different careers, mutual respect: Patrick, Decker admire each other's career climb, strength


Danica Patrick and Brooklyn Decker, old Sports Illustrated swimsuit model pals, met in front of a Coke Zero car in Victory Lane at Charlotte Motor Speedway last Sunday to answer this week's six questions ... sort of.

1. Where did you guys meet again? “I was like, 'Oh, yeah. I'm strong. I can do this.' But no, I was horrible. I blame it on these puny little arms of mine.”-- BROOKLYN DECKER

Patrick: We met at the [Sports Illustrated magazine] swimsuit issue launch party and got to talk more after that. I met [tennis star] Andy [Roddick, then Decker's boyfriend and now her husband]. He introduced us. I remember him telling me at the bar while we were standing there, he was like, 'I really like this girl. I think I'm going to marry her.' And I'm like, 'Wow! OK! That's great.' And he was like, 'And I've already bought a place in New York.'

2. What do you think of Danica being in NASCAR, Brooklyn?

Decker: She's really good at turning left. I can't keep up with her. She's so skilled and talented. If I can hold her gas can, I'm honored.

Seriously, it's good to see a woman do well. It's incredible. Anytime a woman can do well in any sport it's to be admired, truly. To see her transcend, go from IndyCars to this, it's pretty incredible. She's done it seamlessly. It's fun to watch her.

Patrick: Speaking of transcend, obviously I knew Brooklyn when she was a smoking hot model. She still is a smoking hot model underneath those clothes. But now she's a superstar. I watched her from a distance before I knew we were doing this. I was like, 'How in the world does she go from the cover of Sports Illustrated to [acting in] three huge movies?' It's pretty amazing. I don't feel like there are many more people who have been able to do that.

Decker: You either. Actually, no one has been able to do what you do.

Patrick: There are quite a few of us. But I'm flattered, thank you.

3. How was it to work with Danica on the SI swimsuit edition?

Decker: She's a smoking hot model, too. She can do that as well. She can do my job, she can do her job.

Patrick: The only thing is I have to diet for four to six weeks straight, hardcore, to get in shape for it. She's just like, 'The shoot's tomorrow? I'll be there.'

Decker: That's hardly the case. Not only is she obviously beautiful, she's a strong girl. She's cool. She's good at what she does. She's a really good example for women out there.

4. They showed you how to jack a race car earlier, Brooklyn, but it seemed like you had a little trouble?

Decker: Did you see how bad that was? I was like, 'Oh, yeah. I'm strong. I can do this.' But no, I was horrible. I blame it on these puny little arms of mine.

5. Don't you play a NASCAR driver's wife in your next movie, What To Expect When You're Expecting?

Decker: Yes, I play the wife of [actor] Dennis Quaid's character, who is a retired NASCAR driver. Being from Matthews [N.C., a suburb of Charlotte], I felt like I had a good feel for it and it was a very easy role for me to slip into.

6. What do you think of Brooklyn's bright yellow shoes, Danica?

Patrick: They're really cute. I wish I would have had something so stylish. Instead I just have tennis shoes on. Gosh, I just can't compete. But if I wore them in the car, they look like they would melt.
Source: www.nationwide.nascar.com/nationwide-series/news/120529/six-pack-dpatrick-bdecker-charlotte/index.html

Patrick leaves Indianapolis 500 behind -- for now


Danica 'having a lot of fun' despite tougher learning curve in stock cars

When Danica Patrick caught parts of Indianapolis 500 qualifying on television last weekend, she couldn't help but think about how she might be faring if she were still competing in the event that defined her for seven years.

The former open-wheel racer could envision every thought going through the drivers' heads, understand the terminology and banter uttered over the radio and on pit road, imagine the emotions felt by those trying to make the field.

But she didn't feel the urge to be there.

There is no clearer sign of Patrick's commitment to NASCAR than her presence at Charlotte Motor Speedway this Memorial Day weekend. Rather than competing in a certain affair up in Indianapolis, she's racing in the track's Nationwide Series event on Saturday and in the Coca-Cola 600 a day later.

Patrick made her name in the Indy 500, twice leading the event in the waning laps, and has been a fixture in the IndyCar showcase since 2004. This time, though, nose cones and side pods have been traded for bumper and fenders -- and all of it without looking back.

She's no longer considered an open-wheel driver dabbling in NASCAR; instead, she's a NASCAR driver who once competed in open-wheel. Her choice of venue this weekend cements the fact.

"The reason why I came to race NASCAR was to do all of these things," Patrick said Thursday, referring to her multifaceted stock-car adventure. "I was ready to leave IndyCar. I wanted to be here. When you are not missing something, longing for something, you don't really think about it that much -- it's like that girlfriend you didn't want to have anymore. You don't think about her anymore. ... You just don't.

"Indy, I have lots of great memories from there, and probably the part of me that doesn't feel quite as longing for it is that there is still a chance that I could do it again. It's not gone. I'm excited about this weekend."

It's a transition that her Sprint Cup car owner, Tony Stewart, can relate to. Stewart also continued his pursuit of the Indianapolis 500 after moving into NASCAR, twice attempting both it and the 600 on the same day. Over time, though, his quest for Indy glory ebbed as his commitment to NASCAR increased.

"It's not the end of the world," he said. "It's putting one chapter behind you, and starting another chapter."

For now, the open-wheel chapter of Patrick's history has clearly been closed, even if she's leaving open the option of potentially attempting Indianapolis again one day. Of course, it probably helps that she's so busy in her new vocation -- jumping from one vehicle and one practice to another in this tandem weekend -- continuing to learn as much as she can about driving stock cars.

So far, results have been mixed -- one of her better Nationwide runs of the season, 12th at Darlington two weeks ago, was followed last Sunday by a blown tire and a crash at Iowa. Although she placed 30th at Darlington in her most recent Cup start, she stayed out of trouble and finished the race, which had been her stated goal.

"She's had a difficult season this year, and she obviously wishes she had finished better, run better," said Dale Earnhardt Jr., who owns Patrick's car on the Nationwide tour. "But I think she really needs to buckle down and learn everything she can.

"She's really tried to get a four-year degree in a very short amount of time. She's trying to learn a lot in a little bit of time, and she just needs to concentrate on what she can learn and what she can improve on. She's going to have a bigger challenge next year, and she needs to look forward to that and prepare herself the best she can for that."

Next year, Patrick is targeting a full-time Cup ride with Stewart-Haas Racing, which currently fields her car on NASCAR's top level. Right now, that seems a substantial leap. But some watched her efforts at Darlington and were impressed with what they saw.

"I tell you, I was so happy and so impressed with [her at] Darlington," said Cup team owner and television analyst Michael Waltrip. "... She outran people in the Cup race. Honestly, I didn't know if she could do that or not. I think what she learned there, and the job that she did there, it elevated in my eyes, and I think to lot of people on the inside, what they think her potential is. She just needs to keep doing it."

Patrick recorded the best finish ever by a woman at NASCAR's national level with her fourth-place result in a Nationwide race at Las Vegas last year. Her current Nationwide campaign started slowly, and although she's rebounded somewhat with good finishes at Texas and Darlington, she's also been forced to scale back expectations.

Regardless, three-time NASCAR champion and Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip believes Patrick has shown herself to be a capable stock-car driver who would have a ride somewhere at the sport's national level regardless of her gender.

"I know she's a female driver, but when you watch her drive, she has driving ability. She took to Darlington as good as any rookie I've ever seen," he said. "... Sure she was laps down, but she finished the race, and that's the most important thing for a rookie. You need to run every lap you can, finish every mile that you can. That will pay off in the future.

"The thing she can do is -- she's a sponge. She's got a lot of people telling her what to do. ... You've got all these people coming to her and giving her advice and she doesn't blow them off. She doesn't say to somebody, 'I don't think I need to listen to him.' You can see it -- she takes it in, and she analyzes it, and decides what she can do with it. Smart girl."

Even so, that advice and support can't completely flatten out what is a very steep learning curve, particularly on the Cup side. Patrick's car was 43rd fastest in 600 qualifying Thursday night, meaning she wouldn't have made the field had her No. 10 not been locked in.

Sunday's marathon promises to be arduous for a driver who has never experienced anything like it. Still, Patrick is clearly comfortable and content in this stock-car pursuit, embracing everything about it -- even, apparently, the struggle.

That much is evident in the fact that on Memorial Day weekend, there is no pining to be back home again in Indiana.

"I'm very pleased that I'm in NASCAR. I'm very happy, I'm having a lot of fun," Patrick said. "I'm looking forward to a different challenge this weekend."
Source: www.nascar.com/news/120525/dpatrick-charlotte-on-indy-weekend/index.html

Patrick eyes return to IMS in 2013 with doubleheader


Logging nearly 400 miles across four hours of running stock cars in oppressive heat at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Danica Patrick endured a vigorous warmup May 26 for the Coca-Cola 600.

It also might have been a dress rehearsal for an Indianapolis 500-Coke 600 doubleheader in 2013.

After finishing 14th in the History 300, Patrick confirmed an ESPNW.com report that her management team is formulating a plan to run both Memorial Day weekend classics next year in what's expected to be her rookie season in the Sprint Cup Series.

"Oh, that's not a mystery that if I did the Indy 500, that's what it would be," said Patrick, who has expressed a desire to return to Indy many times. "As long as everything works out, and we're able to transition to Cup, that would be awesome. It would have been some sort of double if I'd done it this (year). That's just the way it would go down, and that would be a hell of a lot of work, but I'm sure it would be pretty fun."

The first woman to lead the Indy 500 hasn't finalized her schedule for next year and said the planning was in the preliminary stages. But she said moving up to NASCAR's premier series wouldn't be a dealbreaker.

"I think that Indy is special to me," said Patrick, who moved to NASCAR full time this year after seven straight seasons in the Izod IndyCar Series. "The greater the distance between the last time I drove an Indy car and the next time, I wouldn't like that to be too big. If I were to attempt it, I wouldn't want to do anything that would tarnish all my great memories and the successes that I've had there by going out in an attempt that wouldn't be comfortable for me. So yeah, that would be awesome."
Source: www.indycar.com/en/News/2012/05-May/5-27-Danica-Patrick-eyes-double-in-2017

The Indy 500 is on Danica's mind


Danica Patrick finished Nationwide Series practice at Iowa Speedway on Saturday morning, then punched up Indianapolis 500 Pole Day in her motor coach and started remembering how much she misses open-wheel racing's greatest event. And how much she thinks she has to accomplish there.

Watching James Hinchcliffe, who replaced her at Andretti Autosport, claim the provisional pole elicited sponsor pride aplenty but also a renewed hope to eventually attempt the race again.

"I know I want to," Patrick told espnW.com "It didn't work out this year, but it doesn't mean I'm going to give up. I'd like to do it. It's very early in the game, given the fact this one hasn't even run yet. But I'd like to for sure."

If Patrick and her business team were able to formulate a deal to put her in the Indianapolis 500 for an eighth time, it would require much logistical wrangling to accommodate the schedules of that race and the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C. She is expected to compete full time in the Sprint Cup Series next season with Stewart-Haas Racing. And if she did race the Indianapolis 500 again, it probably would not be with Andretti, she said, despite her past relationship with the team and the natural connection of using Chevrolet engines, as do her NASCAR teams.

"I don't know. I don't think the likelihood is very high with them, but you never say never," she said. "I know better than that in this world.

"We both moved on, you know? I think you always, you leave for a reason."

The Indianapolis 500 was the epicenter of a Patrick phenomenon that began with a gender-best fourth-place start and finish as a rookie in 2005. After a momentum-building May with fast lap times and a high grid position, she became the first woman to lead laps (19) in the Memorial Day classic. In 2009, Patrick reset her gender record for best finish (third).

Technical inspection problems and rains that greatly impacted the length of qualifying sessions last May created a Bump Day spectacle in which Patrick qualified into the race on her last try. She finished 10th after starting 25th and led 10 laps. Patrick, who is 10th in Nationwide points and qualified ninth for Sunday's race, said she watched Pole Day on Saturday as both a fan and as a former competitor who has unfinished business.

"It's the first day that things counted, obviously, so I'm curious," she said. "Of course, I am. I spent my whole childhood watching open-wheel racing. I spent years going to England and racing open wheel, coming back and racing open wheel. It's been my world for 20 years and beyond that. For almost my whole life, I've been watching it. I watch it and I think I know how to do it, I feel like I know Indy. I know what it takes to be fast and I feel like every year I learn valuable lessons about how to be better the next time. I felt like I learned a really big one last year, so hopefully that means sometime in the future I'll get to use that."

For now, Patrick will attempt to use what she learned last week during a rigorous weekend at Darlington Raceway in which she finished 12th in Nationwide and 31st in Sprint Cup at one of the sport's most demanding tracks. That includes being able to switch between the distinctly different Sprint Cup and Nationwide cars during a weekend without hurting performance. She has eight more combination weekends remaining this season.

"Last week, that was probably the toughest weekend you'll ever have," Nationwide points leader Ricky Stenhouse Jr. told Patrick during a Saturday news conference.

Crew chief Tony Eury Jr. agreed, saying the next-toughest remaining test likely will be New Hampshire Motor Speedway or Dover International Speedway.

"She's never been to Road America, so that will be kind of a challenge," he said of the Wisconsin road course. "There will be a lot of hot shoes that step up and run there, but the way she ran in Montreal (24th last year), I'm not really worried about that. I think she will be very good there."

Darlington also was a checkpoint for Patrick in terms of confidence and momentum, and in perception of her fledgling stock car career.

"I think Darlington was one of those weekends that could have confirmed opinions or served to develop new ones for people who didn't think I was doing a good job," she said.

Patrick said she appreciated the general outpouring of congratulations from the garage and media over her performance but seemed reticent to accept much praise for her results.

"I came into it just basically knowing it was going to be difficult and don't worry; I was plenty disappointed and concerned after the first practice in Cup, because I was last," she said. "My hope for the race was not to be the slowest, so, I don't know. I had pretty realistic expectations, I hope, but it kind of even was better than that at times. I think there was a lot of people that said, 'Good job,' and I really appreciate that because, let's face it, I had a 12th and a 31st or something like that. That means a lot, but it also means that people with experience are watching, and it was good it did go well for the circumstances."
Source: espn.go.com/espnw/more-sports/7949664/indy-500-danica-patrick-mind

Danica Finishes 12th In Darlington Debut


Danica Patrick's first race at Darlington was a success...

Danica Patrick held her own in her Darlington Raceway debut with a 12th-place finish in Friday night’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race.

As Patrick rolled off 15th on the warm-up laps, her crew chief Tony Eury Jr. offered the sage advice, “Race the racetrack.” Eury and spotter T.J. Majors were joined by another familiar voice offering tips throughout the evening — Patrick’s Sprint Cup owner and three-time champion Tony Stewart

“I had a lot of voices in my head,” Patrick joked after the race. “The ones that said, ‘try harder, be braver, no, be smarter, be patient,’ but overall it was a decent night.”

Patrick maintained her position throughout the event as she acclimated to the nuances of the 1.366-mile egg-shaped oval.

Although she dropped to 17th as the car developed a push in the first 25 laps, with a chassis adjustment and fresh tires on the first pit stop on Lap 37, Patrick found a better feel in her car.

“You’re doing a good job racing the track,” Majors told Patrick.

“I had a technique that wouldn’t slide the tires,” Patrick said. “I’m keeping it underneath me.”

“It’s the most it’s turned for me this weekend at the track.”

Majors complimented Patrick’s improved performance through Turns 3 and 4, “You were a lot better there.”

Patrick, who restarted 17th on Lap 51, replied, “I had the momentum down the straightaway, so I used it.”

After Lap 65, she said, “I need to be careful on the right rear.”

“You’ll be fine,” Eury replied. “Just work on 1 and 2 down there; that’s where you’re getting beat.”

The No. 7 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet pitted on Lap 93 during green-flag racing but dropped off the lead lap despite holding on to the 15th spot. Majors told Patrick her entry into the corners was improving, but by Lap 100, she had fallen to 16th. Two laps later, the driver appeared surprised that there were 45 laps remaining.

“When the 54 (Kurt Busch) goes by you, I want you to pay attention to what he’s doing,” Eury said. “He’s probably the best one out there.”

Over the next 10 laps, Majors told Patrick to let the faster drivers pass her.

“See how high they’re running off the corner,” Stewart said. “You need to work on that tomorrow night.”

By Lap 122, just 12 cars remained on the lead lap. Patrick was running 15th when Kurt Busch slammed the frontstretch wall five circuits later. The No. 7 team elected to take the wave around, and Patrick returned to the lead lap for the restart on Lap 133. The fifth caution, triggered by Brendan Gaughan on Lap 137, allowed Patrick to pit for fresh tires for the final run with 18 cars on the lead lap.

“Alright, those tires are pumped up,” Eury said. “You have a slight adjustment. You’ll have some comfort and be ready to go, because there’ll only be like six laps to go. Just like Texas, elbows up.”

Then the fireworks started.

Joey Logano slammed into the back of race leader Elliott Sadler with five laps remaining in the race and punted the No. 2 Chevrolet into the wall just past the start-finish line to ignite the sixth caution and force the race into overtime.

“Go low, go really low,” Majors radioed to Patrick. “One outside there, slowly merge up there. . . . One outside there; . . . they’re going to put us where we go here. I’ll get you lined up.”

“If I lost spots, I’m sorry,” Patrick replied. “But I saw Elliott turn sideways up there. I didn’t lock them up, but I lifted then I got passed by one or two. I didn’t know what was going to happen, but I saw it starting.”

Patrick restarted 11th but was passed by veteran Joe Nemecheck when the race went green and finished 12th.

“Very proud of you, girl,” Eury said. “You done good.”

“Good job guys,” Patrick radioed from the pits. “Sorry I couldn’t get us a top 10 there.”

Patrick moved up one position to 10th in the driver points. The JR Motorsports No. 7 car is currently 17th in the owner points after nine races.

“We got a lap down there with the long green-flag run,” Patrick said. “We made stops, but the car was a little tight to start and a little on the loose side after that. But then we got tires at the end and, if we could have only had a longer run, I think we could have really taken advantage of it. But it was a good finish at the end.”
Source: nascar.speedtv.com/article/nns-danica-patrick-finishes-12th-in-darlington-raceway-nascar-debut/

 

6:11

Danica duels with Darlington


Patrick finally gets up close and personal with the track she nixed for Cup debut

When the original Sprint Cup schedule for Danica Patrick was penciled in by Stewart-Haas Racing late last year, the plan was for her much-hyped debut to come at Darlington Raceway, perhaps the toughest race track in NASCAR.

Patrick's reaction?

Uh, no thanks.

“This is a tough place and everything they said about it is true. This Lady in Black is very intimidating ... I've got my Darlington stripes, officially. It's all the way down the right side of the car. We got that one over with.”

"Darlington was going to be my first Cup race and I sort of felt like that would be a high pressure situation that I didn't feel I'd be able to be as comfortable with,'' Patrick said before her first practice ever at Darlington on Friday. "And, so, I wanted my first race in a Cup car to be a place where I could worry more about just the drivers and the race itself other than driving the car and putting myself at my limit of capabilities right away."

Patrick got her way. She debuted in the season-opening Daytona 500 instead. But, three months later, Cup race number two is the Bojangles Southern 500 -- at Darlington. And, if first impressions are any indication, it could be a long night for a driver who still has much to learn in her transition from the Indycar Series to NASCAR. Patrick finished dead-last among 47 race teams during her first career Cup practice on Friday, touching the wall several times. Happy Hour saw a significant improvement, though, with Patrick 24th. She qualified 38th for Saturday's race.

"This is a tough place and everything they said about it is true,'' Patrick said between practices. "This Lady in Black is very intimidating. I'm just trying to get comfortable with what the car needs me to do -- where to brake, how heavy to brake and those kinds of things. I've got my Darlington stripes, officially. It's all the way down the right side of the car. We got that one over with.

"I've got everything in my corner, I just need time. I just need to get comfortable. It's definitely not going to be an easy, breezy night. Like Tony (Stewart) said, I'm probably going to hate him by the end of the weekend. Come the future, I'm going to be glad for it."

Stewart knew what he was putting Patrick through when he picked Darlington as one of 10 Sprint Cup races on this year's schedule to prepare her to go full-time in Cup next season. He figures it's better for Patrick to learn the track when she isn't racing for points, as she will be next year.

"She understands the value of why we picked this as one of the races,'' Stewart said. "I think she's keeping the big picture in mind. I think she's doing a really good job of taking it all in stride, not letting her position on the time sheet get her down, realizing that the whole weekend is a learning experience and trying to just get at that time.

"I want her just to run as many laps as possible. The more time she can spend on track, the more experience that she's going to get. So the good thing is, running both divisions, she's getting a ton of track time."

Patrick tried to prepare by testing a Cup car at Nashville a few weeks ago to get used to a non restrictor-plate race car. She studied in-car video of a Darlington race. And she has sought out experienced teammates Stewart and Ryan Newman.

Of course, the best way to learn is by doing. Patrick posted competitive laps in her Nationwide race car; she was 17th in practice and qualified 15th for Friday night's race.

Cup race cars are much different, however.

"When you get to about half-throttle in the Cup car, that's what a Nationwide car feels like,'' Jimmie Johnson said with a laugh. "There's a lot left from that point down in a Cup car. As far as tracks go, this track in my opinion has the highest sensation of speed over any other track we go to. And it's due to it being so narrow. But it will be an eye-opening experience. Fortunately, she's been real fast in other cars so hopefully it doesn't affect her too much. But we've all looked at this race on her schedule and know it's going to be tough for her. And it certainly will. This is not an easy race track to get around, but she's going to do it and we'll see how it goes."

As Greg Biffle said, "The place is just unforgiving and it's difficult. Experience here is worth its weight in gold."

Which Patrick should find out when she comes back here next year. But that isn't going to make this weekend any easier.

"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger and I know I'll be better for it,'' Patrick said, "But it's going to be a lot of work this weekend."
Source: www.nascar.com/news/120511/danica-finally-tangles-with-darlington/index.html

Patrick gets a wall-to-wall course Friday in NASCAR's quirkiest race track


The first time Danica Patrick hit the wall was in her first run during Nationwide Series practice Friday morning, when she clipped it with the right-rear of her No. 7 car. In opening Sprint Cup practice, she hit it again entering Turn 3. Later, she scraped it in almost the same place in almost the same way. With minutes remaining in the session she hit it one more time, this time harder in between Turns 3 and 4, the impact leaving a long, white streak down the right side of her green automobile.

"I got my stripe!" she said at one point over the radio. It would be far from her only encounter with Darlington Raceway's nefarious and ever-present outside wall, that marked-up red and white strip which loomed outside Patrick's passenger-side window during the entirety of the longest and most challenging day of her nascent NASCAR career. Get up to the wall, get up to the wall, get up to the wall, she heard so many times, in so many words. At Darlington it's the fastest way around, a counterintuitive approach for drivers whose goal is typically to stay as far away from it as possible.

At Darlington, though, there's no other choice, You get up there a few feet from the concrete or the SAFER barrier and you ride the thing all the way around, occasionally slapping it, inevitable contact that sometimes means a driver is getting everything out of the car. Getting there, though, requires an on-the-fly education of the type Patrick went through Friday, where she made her debut at this cranky old facility in advance of her second career start in NASCAR's premier series Saturday night. Even when she wasn't on the track, the wall was always there.

"As a driver, my comfort level with the wall is definitely medium," she said. "I don't think even in IndyCars I liked being up against the wall. ... Coming into these stock cars, I'm definitely a lot more comfortable getting up higher and higher, but here at Darlington, you're riding the wall. You're not kind of using it as a reference, you're riding the wall. It's a whole new level of getting comfortable with it. You're definitely as a driver threading the needle out here, and every driver that's out here deserves definite credit for running well. If they have a good weekend, they're darn good drivers. Because this is definitely tough."

That much is an understatement. Friday for Patrick was an absolute bear, the difficulty of the race track combining with a breakneck schedule stemming from her involvement in both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup events. She left her motor coach at 7:25 a.m., and for most of the next 14 hours was either in a race car or in a meeting. She attended the Nationwide rookie meeting -- mandatory, since it was her first time at the track -- at 7:30, and that was followed by a powwow with series director Joe Balash and Sam Hornish Jr. stemming from the incident involving the two drivers last weekend at Talladega Superspeedway.

Then it was two hours of Nationwide practice, then the Sprint Cup rookie meeting, then the Nationwide drivers' meeting, then two hours of Cup practice. The obligations were stacked on top of one another like building blocks -- a media availability, final Sprint Cup practice, qualifying sessions for both circuits. And then finally the Nationwide event, beginning as the sun set over the Turn 3 wall. Of course, the wall. At Darlington, it's always about the wall, particularly for someone who had never competed here before.

"I'm not comfortable. I'm not a wall person," she said over the radio early in Friday's first Sprint Cup practice, which she finished as the slowest of the 47 cars that took to the track. No one was under any illusion that it would be easy. Patrick's debut in NASCAR's major league came in the Daytona 500, on a big restrictor-plate track where drivers mash the accelerator and go. Unrestricted venues are a different animal, as Patrick's team discovered during a recent two-day test in Nashville, Tenn. They made progress during the first day, and then they hit a wall of the figurative variety.

“I'm very happy. We were kind of expecting the worst here, but she surprised us all and stepped up to the plate and did a good job.”-- TONY EURY JR.

"She said it was an eye-opener. It's tough. These cars are not easy to drive," Greg Zipadelli, competition director for Patrick's Stewart-Haas Racing team, said before the team came to Darlington. "She did a really good job the first day. I don't know where we got off or where we missed it the second day and why we didn't get better or get her comfortable. Darlington's going to be tough. It's going to be tough for all of us. But if this is what she's going to do -- you know, there's growing pains. We'll go in, and hold our heads high, and do the best we can to get her something comfortable, and try to run all day."

There was certainly no lack of effort. Patrick made 62 laps in opening Nationwide practice, second-most only behind another Darlington newcomer, Travis Pastrana. Her inexperience, though, was clear -- over and over again her spotter urged her to get up to the wall sooner, to try and be there before she reached the Bojangles' billboard just prior to the apex of turns 1 and 2. In the Nationwide car, she still managed to post the 17th-best time of the session. In the more powerful Cup car, though, it was a different world.

"There's still a little more room in 1 and 2 to get up to the wall," new spotter Tab Boyd told her. "I know we're working on it. ... There's a lot of room in 1 and 2 that we need to get to the wall a little more. These guys are using every bit of the race track."

The art of letting the car drift up into the corner was something Patrick had not yet mastered. Instead there was tentativeness, understandable given what was waiting up there. "I just feel like I'm going to clip the wall and make it even more black than it is," Patrick said over the radio. Patrick was braking too early entering the corner, and then having to brake again and crank the wheel far enough left to get out of it. The deeper she got into the corner, Boyd explained, the less she'd have to turn the wheel, and the more she could allow her momentum to carry her out the other end. And more momentum meant more speed.

Which early Friday was tough to find. Patrick's best lap in the opening Sprint Cup practice was nearly 10 mph slower than the best lap turned by Kevin Harvick, who led the session. "Obviously, I'm not super-fast," she said during her media availability. "I didn't expect to be very fast. I expected to just get experience out there and would I like to be higher up the chart? Absolutely. Every driver wants to be as high up as possible. There's a lot of really, really good drivers out there throughout the whole field. I'm not coming in thinking I should be anywhere in particular based on my extreme lack of experience and knowledge of this place."

In final Sprint Cup practice, they were at it again. "I hate to sound like a broken record," Boyd told his driver, "but there's still quite a bit of room, of grip up there." Patrick made nine laps, trying to get a little deeper, improving to 24th fastest in a session where teams mixed race and qualifying setups. "I'm chanting, 'Be brave' to myself," Patrick radioed to her team. The progress was slow, but it was there -- she briefly held the provisional pole in Nationwide qualifying before ending up 15th, and later turned a lap in Sprint Cup qualifying that would have gotten her into the field even if her No. 10 car hadn't been locked in.

But the Southern 500 would have to wait. A long Friday of on-track activity for Patrick culminated in the Nationwide race, where she raced the track as she had been instructed. And when she did manage to get as high in the corner as she needed to, her team let her know it. "That's what I'm looking for, right there," crew chief Tony Eury Jr. told her midway through the event. "I pushed just a little more there," Patrick responded. Team owner Tony Stewart spoke over the radio occasionally to offer advice. Even after she fell a lap down, the feedback over the radio was all positive. Her stated goal, after all, was only a respectable finish.

And she achieved it, getting her lap back by staying out of the pits, gaining some track position when some of the leaders crashed near the finish, and coming home 12th. "Sorry I couldn't get a top-10 there," she told her team over the radio afterward. Given where she had started, though, the result was something of a victory in and of itself. Perhaps more telling -- after the race, there was hardly a scratch on the right side of Patrick's No. 7 car. A pair of nicks in the paint of the rear quarterpanel comprised the only damage.

"Very, very positive," Eury called it. "I'm very happy. We were kind of expecting the worst here, but she surprised us all and stepped up to the plate and did a good job." Getting up against the wall, though, remains a work in progress. Eury said Patrick noticed the line contenders Denny Hamlin and Kurt Busch were running in the Nationwide event, and will try to build up to it in Saturday's Sprint Cup race -- which the crew chief urges her to use solely as a learning experience.

"She was kind of down after practice, and I told her, you've got to understand that's another level above where we're at. Over there, I told her, there were 42 Kyle Busches," Eury said. "So every one of them run hard every lap, and every one of them are good, and they're there for a reason. She's putting herself up against the best. ... I just told her, don't let your confidence get down. Stay positive. Go out there and learn, watch. She's going to learn a lot just by racing with guys who are that smart and that good."

And with that, Danica Patrick's wall-to-wall course in Darlington 101 was over. The final exam looms Saturday under the lights.
Source: www.nascar.com/news/120512/dpatrick-darlington-101/index.html

Living it up


Patrick not shying away from the full Talladega experience in her first visit to track

Danica Patrick proudly displayed a string of large beads hanging around her neck on Friday, traditionally a bawdy badge of honor for women who bare certain body parts for men at Talladega Superspeedway.

Asked how she acquired those beads, Patrick said, slyly, "Isn't that obvious?"

Yes, Patrick is already embracing the aura of Talladega. And she's also embracing the track. Patrick was 12th in practice on Friday, although she will start 17th for Saturday's Aaron's 312 with the grid set by points when rain Thursday altered Friday's schedule and qualifying was eliminated.

Patrick also posted the second-best 10-lap average in Friday's practice at 184.619 mph, just behind her bump-draft partner, Dale Earnhardt Jr. He led the 10-lap chart at 185.011.

It was just another sign Patrick is getting up to speed in her first full season in NASCAR.

"To be honest, I actually felt pretty good that Junior was wanting to know when I was coming back out of the garage and that he wanted to run and bump-draft with me at the beginning,'' Patrick said. "That was kind of a good feeling for me. I feel like we haven't really made big efforts to try and find each other. So if we're together, we do it. But the fact that he asked if I was coming back out was a nice feeling. But I'm feeling more and more comfortable all the time."

Particularly at the longer, faster tracks on the circuit. That's still her comfort zone after years in the IndyCar Series.

"Do I like Daytona and Talladega type of racing? I really do,'' she said. "It reminds me a lot of IndyCar racing because you're flat out, looking for air, you're just trying to stay with the pack, you're trying to weave your way through it. In IndyCar, it's a high-speed chess match. I'm used to it, I like it, it's not about the speed, it's just about the style. For me, though, outside of that, the mile-and-a-halfs are probably my favorite just because I think more happens. It's a little more in your control.''

Unlike Daytona. Patrick was collected in wrecks in all three races at Daytona in February: the Gatorade twin qualifying race, the Nationwide Series event and the Daytona 500. It was not the Sprint Cup debut she imagined, but

Patrick insists she is not dwelling on those races. With her first superspeedway race since Daytona set for Saturday, followed by the second Cup race of her career next week at Darlington, Patrick knows she has to put that past behind her.

"For me, it's not about wrapping my head around what happened in the past,'' she said. "It's about what happens next and how am I gonna be, what did I learn and move on. It's really easy with this schedule to dwell on things and let one weekend affect the next, and affect the next, so the hurdle is, for me, especially because I get so wrapped up in the results, is to disconnect from what just happened and move on and look at it as a positive that you get another week. You get a race the next weekend to go and make it right if you didn't feel like it was right the previous one. So I don't feel like I have to do anything. My goal is just to run competitively and see what happens."

In that regard, Patrick wasn't particularly pleased with last week's result, a 21st-place finish in the Nationwide race at Richmond. Among those who finished ahead of her was Johanna Long, another Nationwide Series rookie who inevitably is compared to Patrick because of their gender. Long finished 20th at Richmond.

Asked about fans who dislike Patrick gravitating to her, Long said, "I'm trying to grow my fan base just as everyone is out there, so I guess it's a good thing."

But Long didn't show up for her press conference wearing a big strand of beads. And that's what continues to set Patrick apart from other women in the sport. She plays up her gender, just as she did on Friday.

"Beads on," she said. "Beads up front. This is what makes Talladega special. And makes it exciting. When I talked about coming to Talladega it was ... it's just as much of an excitement level for me to see the fans and get a feel for the atmosphere as it is for driving the car. Driving around Talladega is much like Daytona so I felt something similar at least from what I expect it to be like, anyway. But the atmosphere is something really unique. So it's definitely one of those tracks that I was looking forward to coming to for more reasons than just racing. I think that it's going to be fun. Like I said, I've already got my beads, so what next? More beads?"
Source: www.nascar.com/nationwide-series/news/120504/dpatrick-enjoying-talladega/index.html

Danica Patrick struggles during long night at Richmond


Danica Patrick was encouraged with each adjustment that her JR Motorsports team made to her car during the Nationwide Series race Friday night at Richmond International Raceway.

But as she fought a loose racecar, that encouraging feeling went away during green-flag runs in what turned out to be a long evening culminating in a 21st-place finish, two laps behind winner Kurt Busch.

“We were just extremely loose—extremely loose the whole time,” Patrick said after a race that featured a 126-lap green-flag run to the finish that didn’t allow much time for adjustments. “Entry and exit (in the corners) were difficult. … Every change made it better when I went out.

“But it always got to the point of loose again. It was definitely hell waiting for that last stop (during that green-flag run).”

While she knew the short tracks would pose the biggest challenge in her transition from IndyCar racing to her first full year of Nationwide competition, Patrick didn’t expect to struggle as much after a solid performance in practice and qualifying.

She was ninth overall in practice and started the race Friday in 16th.

But she dropped back to the rear of the lead-lap cars early and rarely came close to cracking the top 20.

“We made huge strides in practice — that was a good practice at any track for me,” Patrick said. “We’ll take that and my best qualifying on a short track, too.

“We’ll take that and we’ll move on. I’m sure that we’re going to learn from this experience and be better at the next one for it.”

She was joined among those two laps down by Travis Pastrana, the action sports star who finished 22nd in his series debut for RAB Racing.
Source: aol.sportingnews.com/nascar/story/2012-04-28/danica-patrick-struggles-during-long-night-in-richmond-nationwide-race?icid=maing-grid10%7Chtmlws-main-bb%7Cdl11%7Csec3_lnk3%26pLid%3D156201

Danica Patrick more comfortable in return to short track at Richmond


Danica Patrick will take any sign of improvement she can get as she continues her stock-car education.

So she was smiling Friday afternoon after a practice session that was better than she performed at Richmond International Raceway last September. Patrick finished the 150-minute session ranked ninth among Nationwide Series drivers at the .75-mile track and qualified 16th for the race Friday night. .

“Staying inside the top 10 in practice was a really good thing for me,” Patrick said. “Hopefully we can qualify well. … It was a much better start to the day than the last time I was here.”

In her first full season in her transition from IndyCar, the 30-year-old Patrick went five races with a best finish of 12th before earning her first top-10 (eighth) of the season at Texas.

It was the fourth top-10 of her career. She had run 25 Nationwide races for JR Motorsports the previous two seasons.

Patrick is 11th in the Nationwide standings and said a key to her improvement is crew chief Tony Eury Jr.’s ability to translate her information from a past race into the setup for practice the next time at the track.

“The car felt really comfortable from the get-go,” Patrick said. “So that was a good thing. Part of it is just Tony and I learning each other and him learning what kind of characteristics I like in the car and what’s important.

“We came with a variation of what we ended up with last year when we ran here. That’s a big head start.”
Source: aol.sportingnews.com/nascar/story/2012-04-27/danica-patrick-nationwide-series-richmond-jr-motorsports-tony-eury-jr

Patrick dialing back expectations for 2012


In talking about competing for a championship in the Nationwide Series this year, Danica Patrick admitted Friday that she might have set her expectations at an unrealistic level.

I think I need to remind myself every now and again of really where the expectation level should be, and where mine should be. -- DANICA PATRICK

"I definitely feel like I want to do well for so many people," Patrick said Friday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, returning to the track for the first time since racing in the 2011 IndyCar Series finale that claimed the life of Dan Wheldon. "I think that I gave myself maybe a little bit of false expectation about running this year for the championship, and probably using those words 'for the championship.'

"It's my first-ever full year, and what I've done still doesn't add up to one year, and I didn't have anything before that at all in stock cars. I think I need to remind myself every now and again of really where the expectation level should be, and where mine should be. And I can't let all of the exposure and hype and hope -- I'm serious when I say 'hope' -- I can't let that be something that makes me feel like I have to do well."

* Sound Off: Danica on rough start to season

Patrick's return to Las Vegas brought some strong emotions along with the dose of realism. As she walked through the speedway property -- more so than practicing on the race track -- she thought of the loss the sport suffered this past October.

"There won't be a time that I come to Las Vegas that I won't think about Dan, and I won't think about the family and hope that they're doing well," Patrick said. "It's in the moments where you don't have a singular focus, like walking up to the media center here [Friday], seeing the neon garage, and kind of the atmosphere that was here on that weekend and where we were pitted -- the things that we were around and the sights that you saw where you can have time to think about multiple things -- that it gets to you."

Inside the car was another matter.

"I don't think it completely escapes you, but for the most part, you're able to have something to focus on, one thing to focus on, and so I feel that I'm able to do that when I'm out on the race track," said Patrick, who was 14th-fastest in the first Nationwide practice (speeds) and seventh overall in the final session (speeds).

"[That's] probably a really good thing, because, especially when you're trying to get the car to its very limit, you need to be able to focus on that one thing. But, as I said, the thoughts outside the car, being in the surroundings, are when you remember so much."
Source: www.nationwide.nascar.com/nationwide-series/news/120309/dpatrick-dials-back-expectations/index.html

For Patrick, progress to performance leap not easy


Finds herself mired 21st in points due to crash at Daytona, poor finish at Phoenix

For Danica Patrick, Las Vegas Motor Speedway cannot come quickly enough. A fast intermediate track, the same venue where she recorded her historic fourth-place finish in a Nationwide Series race a season ago -- it all makes for friendly, familiar territory to a driver who could use a little of it right now, given her initial foray into full-time NASCAR competition is off to such a trying start.

Forget the crashes in and around the Daytona 500, a frightening impact into the backstretch wall during a qualifying race that was unavoidable, a hard lean into David Ragan during the rain-delayed big show that in retrospect probably wasn't. When it comes to Sprint Cup events, where admittedly she's just trying to make laps and gain experience, Patrick gets a pass. And given that she's lined up a slate of very challenging race tracks, those events are only going to get more difficult -- her next start, at cranky old Darlington Raceway in May, is going to feel like taking first steps onto an alien landscape.

Phoenix proves to be a challenge for Danica Patrick as she finishes 21st, three laps down.

The Nationwide Series, though, is another animal altogether. She's now full-time on that circuit, with a pair of partial seasons behind her, and aims of winning a race and finishing high in the points -- if not contending for the championship itself. This isn't about the learning curve anymore, it's about results. Fair or not, Patrick will no longer be judged on progress, but on finishing positions. And while it's very early, and while there is still a whole lot of racing to come in the 2012 season, two weeks are more than enough time to distill the difference between dipping a toe in NASCAR and plunging in for real.

Quite simply, there's a bigger picture out there that wasn't present for Patrick before, one that's going to become more magnified with every difficult run like the one she endured this past Saturday at Phoenix, where the race car seemed a handful all day and she finished three laps down. This isn't a matter of talent or enthusiasm, two things Patrick has in abundance, the former on display in her handful of strong outings last season and her pole run at Daytona, the latter evident whenever she's around a stock-car track. She's doing this the absolute right way, asking the right questions, making the right friends, showing the right combination of humility and confidence. But now we're at a point where she has to do it every week, where struggles easily become compounded, where some drivers fall into a season-long points hole they spend all year trying to dig out of.

Now, that's not to say that will happen to Patrick, but clearly at 21st in points she has some work to do already. She's in a different world now. Running a limited schedule, the promise of a strong run here or there was enough. No more. Now, the performance has to be there almost every week, and if it's not, the wolves are going to be at the door. Patrick has been well-embraced by NASCAR fans, something that's evident in both her merchandise sales as well as the ovation she receives during driver introductions. She's fiery, she's different, and she's easily likeable, and people are responding to that. But she also has a load of sponsorship behind her while more accomplished drivers like Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Trevor Bayne have little to none, and if she slogs through a few more races like Phoenix -- Bristol is on the horizon -- discontent may begin to stir. As her boss Dale Earnhardt Jr. well knows, popularity can be a burden if it's not matched with results.

Of course, Patrick understands this. "The most amount of respect comes from running for position and racing each other hard," she told reporters in Phoenix prior to last weekend's race. And to be fair, there are some mitigating factors at work. Although even she admits she overcorrected and shot up into the wall during her wreck in the Nationwide race at Daytona, she was inadvertently taken out by JR Motorsports teammate Cole Whitt. Even some Sprint Cup drivers still have trouble with Phoenix, which was reconfigured late last season. And she's inserted herself into one of the deeper Nationwide fields in recent memory, one where Elliott Sadler and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. remain the standard-bearers, but Sam Hornish Jr., Austin Dillon and Michael Annett are among those showing potential. Moonlighting Cup drivers have been shut out of the first two races, something that hasn't happened since Chad Little won two in a row to open the Busch Series campaign in 1995.

As is always the case in racing, outside forces play their part. For Patrick, though, Vegas is a known quantity. Although a few contenders ran out of fuel in the Nationwide race there last season, her fourth-place finish -- best ever for a woman at NASCAR's national level -- was no fluke. She raced her way up to the front and fought her way past some other drivers, Bayne among them. Everyone knows what she's capable of there. She finishes three laps down at Vegas, the warning lights will surely go off.

Of course, we're getting ahead of ourselves here. Although crew chief Tony Eury Jr. has preached repeatedly that the first 10 races are everything for his driver, Patrick has some factors working in her favor. She seems at her best on the kind of intermediate tracks, like Las Vegas, that dominate the NASCAR circuit. She also takes struggle very hard, and tries to learn from it. Following her crash-induced, 48-laps-down finish in the Nationwide opener at Daytona, one of those she sought counsel from was Sadler, the current points leader and the winner of last weekend's race in Phoenix.

"She walked by my bus Saturday after the Nationwide race in Daytona, and she was all down and out," Sadler told reporters after his victory. "She was explaining to me what happened in the wreck and [that] she finished 38th. I said, 'Danica, I finished 38th last year at Daytona, too. I went to Phoenix and I finished 12th, I went to Vegas and I finished 12th, I went to Bristol and finished somewhere in the top 10. Next thing I know, I was top-five in points.' I said, 'In the Nationwide Series, if you just see the checkered flag at every event, stay on the lead lap, get yourself a good finish, you will learn what you need to learn ... and you'll be where you want to be in the points.' That's what I told her. 'Hey, I've been there, I know what you're going through, but you've got to put this behind you and move on.' That's kind of what I told her."

Patrick did indeed see the checkered flag at Phoenix, and perhaps finishing a race weekend without being involved an accident should be seen as a sign of progress. But in all fairness, this is someone who is supposed to go full-time in Sprint Cup with Stewart-Haas in 2013. Very soon, progress isn't going to be enough. For a full-time driver in a fully-sponsored car, performance is the absolute bottom line. Patrick isn't shy about piling an awful lot on herself, which leads to situations like the one she's in now, where she's trying to still learn -- she does have only 27 career Nationwide starts, after all -- and theoretically contend for a points championship at the same time. That's a very difficult balance for anyone to pull off, much less someone who's still trying to define realistic expectations.

"I think you need some expectation levels that aren't 'I want to go win.' Everybody wants to win, that's clear," Patrick said before her most recent event at Phoenix. "But some realistic [expectations], some ones you can actually make happen. First it's top-20s, and now, through the progressions, it's top-10s. ... I think on a mile-and-a-half [tracks], there's some likelihood to be in the top 10 more consistently."

That's certainly the hope at Las Vegas, now that the bingo hopper that is Daytona and the recently-reconfigured Phoenix are each in the rearview mirror. It's clear Patrick is still learning at this, and it's true that progress and performance are not always mutually exclusive, even though one typically takes longer to find than the other. In all honesty, though, at this point, expectations are out of her hands. They're set for her, by dint of her full-time status and fully-sponsored car and accelerated NASCAR career path, each time she slides behind the wheel.
Source: http://www.nationwide.nascar.com/nationwide-series/news/120307/dcaraviello-dpatrick-progress-not-enough-needs-results/index.html

Danica Patrick returns to Daytona 500 after early wreck


After getting caught up in an early wreck, Danica Patrick returned to the Daytona 500 on lap 62 Monday night.

Patrick got caught in a six-car crash on lap 2 when Elliott Sadler hit Jimmie Johnson from behind in the middle of a big pack of traffic.

Danica Patrick's car had repairs made to it before she returned to the track 62 laps down. (AP Photo)Johnson’s car slammed into the frontstretch wall, collecting the cars of Patrick, Kurt Busch, David Ragan and Trevor Bayne.

Patrick’s car suffered damage to the right rear, forcing her to take it to the garage for extensive repairs. She was running 40th, 62 laps behind, when she returned to the race.

Patrick was involved in a wreck in all three races she ran at Daytona—none of which were caused by her. She was turned by Aric Almirola in her Gatorade Duel qualifying race on Thursday and then spun by her teammate, Cole Whitt, in the Nationwide Series race on Saturday.

Patrick, who is running the full Nationwide schedule this year, made her Sprint Cup debut in the Daytona 500. She is scheduled to make nine more Cup starts this year.
Source: aol.sportingnews.com/nascar/story/2012-02-27/danica-patrick-returns-to-daytona-500-after-early-wreck

Patrick wins pole for Nationwide race at Daytona


A day after a jarring crash took her out of the first Gatorade Duel qualifying race at Daytona International Speedway, Danica Patrick stormed back to win the pole for Saturday's Drive4COPD 300 Nationwide Series race at the 2.5-mile track.

The pole award was Patrick's first in 26 attempts and the first for a female driver since Shawna Robinson started on the pole at Atlanta in March 1994. Robinson is the only other woman to win a pole in any of NASCAR's top three national series.

The 35th of 50 drivers to make a qualifying attempt, Patrick posted a lap at 182.741 mph and waited as drivers who had been faster in practice attempted to unseat her.

That didn't happen. Dale Earnhardt Jr. couldn't knock her off. Nor could Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch or any of the drivers who followed her in the qualifying order.

To Patrick, the wait for 15 cars seemed interminable.

"Gosh it seemed like a hundred, didn't it?" Patrick said. "I didn't even know the qualifying order. I had no idea how many people were going after me. One of the engineers was writing down lap times as he heard 'em, and he was like, 'All right, we dodged that bullet.'

"We've got this one -- this one's going to be a big one. All right, we got that one.' And I'm like, 'It seems like every car is a big one. Of course it is -- they're all faster than me [in practice]. That's why they're qualifying after me.'

"I definitely didn't know it was the pole until the last car crossed the line."

Trevor Bayne qualified on the outside of the front row at 182.715 mph, just .007 seconds slower than Patrick. Elliott Sadler, Earnhardt and 2011 Camping World Truck Series champion Austin Dillon completed the top five.

Afterwards, Sadler paid Patrick a strong compliment.

"In the last 24 months, I think she's the most improved driver we've had, in all three series," Sadler said.
Source: www.nationwide.nascar.com/nationwide-series/news/120224/dpatrick-pole-daytona-nationwide/index.html

Danica goes for a wild ride on final lap of Duel


Chain-reaction wreck sends her spinning and crashing violently into the wall

It all went pretty much according to plan for Danica Patrick in her inaugural Gatorade Duel qualifying race Thursday at Daytona International Speedway.

Until, that is, the final two corners on the final lap of the 150-mile event.

Then, Patrick's No. 10 Chevrolet got clipped in a chain-reaction wreck that sent her spinning and crashing violently into an inside retaining wall.

* Video : Danica crashes hard in Duel 1

Patrick admitted afterward that the impact she took rivaled that of any she had endured in previous crashes in her racing career, but she walked away uninjured and didn't even appear to be shaken.

"Yeah, it was pretty big. I guess it's pretty good that it happened [Thursday] and not on a Saturday or Sunday -- because that would have meant I crashed in the Nationwide race, and that would have been bad," said Patrick, who is making the transition to NASCAR full time this year after running a full-time IndyCar schedule and part-time NASCAR schedule the past two years.

"It sucks. You just kind of brace yourself. I guess in these situations, I just need to be glad that I'm a small driver and that I've got room to just kind of hug it in and let it rip."

Patrick said her car was sent spinning after getting hit by someone else, and it appeared to be the No. 43 Ford driven by Aric Almirola who hit her. But Almirola said he was a victim of driver Jamie McMurray getting loose in his No. 1 Chevy right in front of him, which appeared to be confirmed via television replay.

"To be honest, I couldn't really tell what happened. We got a really good run coming to the white [flag]," Almirola said. "We were running in fourth -- and the next thing I knew, I got down into Turn 1 and I was in the middle on a three-wide for 12th. It got pretty crazy there when we came there and got the white.

"We went from three-wide in the middle of Turns 1 and 2 and then I think somebody came from behind me to make it four-wide. Then the 1 car got loose off of [Turn] 2 and I tried to stay off of him, but he came across my nose and I couldn't stay off of him. Then me and Danica got together and she went off sliding down into the infield and had a big crash.

"I'm glad she's OK. We managed to save our race car. We've got a little bit of body damage -- but other than that our Smithfield Ford was really fast."

Almirola and Patrick talked for several minutes in the Sprint Cup garage area shortly after the race, parting ways amicably.

"I just got hit," Patrick said. "I was running on the bottom and I'm betting it was a chain reaction from the outside. That's what it looked like. Guys get so close on their side drafts that they're touching you sometimes. I'm sure that at times, at least in that situation, that it was a 'hitting' side draft. But it was probably a chain reaction.

"I'll go look at it and see if I can change something or fix something that I'm doing out there, but overall, I'm just very disappointed that the car got crashed with just two corners to go. It's not how we wanted to roll into Sunday. We wanted to be cool, calm and collected with no damage."

Patrick already was locked into Sunday's Daytona 500, which will be the first in her career. After being forced to settle for a 16th-place finish in Thursday's first Duel and now having to go to a backup car, she will drop to the rear of the field at the beginning of the race.

Thursday's first qualifying race was won by Tony Stewart, who doubles as co-owner of the Stewart-Haas Racing organization that is fielding Patrick's 500 car through a partnership with Tommy Baldwin Racing for the 500. Stewart admitted he was trying to keep tabs on Patrick as Thursday's race unfolded, and said that for the most part he liked what he was seeing.

"I didn't see how [the last-lap wreck] started. I just saw it in the [rear-view] mirror, and saw her car taking a hard left there. So obviously when you turn that hard left, usually you got some help," Stewart said. "I didn't know what the start of that was, but I kept looking in my mirror to see where she was behind me. The good thing about that fluorescent green car is that she's easy to pick out.

"It was really impressive how she kept picking her way up through the field. She got up to sixth at one point, the way I saw it. So I thought she did a good job. I'll get a better shot to understand how she really did when I get the chance to see the replay of it and watch the whole race. But the little bit that I did see [during Thursday's race], I thought she did a good job. I thought she would do that."

Stewart said it was simply the beginning of the learning curve for Patrick on the Sprint Cup side. Patrick will run 10 Cup races this season, as well as a full-time Nationwide Series schedule in a JR Motorsports car.

"It's hard for her right now because she's trying to gain the confidence of the guys around her," Stewart said. "She wants to show that she's solid and makes good decisions, and that she's not going to just pull the pin every time she gets an opportunity to break out of line. I think there is more aggression in her and more confidence in her than even what she showed here [Thursday], but I was pleased with the poise that she showed in trying to gain the confidence of the other drivers."

Patrick tried to look at the bright side of Thursday's disappointing finish. All things considered, she thought she performed reasonably well.

"Overall, I'm happy -- and I'm forgetting the last two corners," Patrick said. "At times it was much more calm than I expected, to be honest. At times when we got single file and had very steady two-lane racing, it was pretty calm. I felt like I learned a lot, was learning a lot about the side draft. I learned what to do in those situations and how to get the most out of it. Obviously, you don't want to get into people because bad things happen. But I'm glad that I finished all those laps to get that experience. It would have been much more disappointing to have done that early on and not have had the experience that I did.

"Maybe that backup car is fast. We weren't super excited after qualifying, so maybe this is a blessing in big disguise."
Source: www.nascar.com/news/120223/dpatrick-crashes-duel-1/index.html

Patrick's biggest impact may be off the track


The defining image of these Speedweeks thus far isn't a car in Victory Lane, but a vehicle into the wall. Danica Patrick's harrowing crash in a qualifying race Thursday at Daytona International Speedway destroyed her primary race car for the Daytona 500, and buckled the energy-reducing barrier that runs along the backstretch. Yet one day after the biggest wreck of Patrick's young NASCAR career, the only lingering effects for the driver were a sore foot she hit on the clutch pedal, and a sore arm she banged on the side of the seat.

"Everything feels pretty good," said Patrick, whose old open-wheel instincts of taking her hands off the wheel at the point of impact perhaps saved her from injury. Her husband, a physical therapist, helped her work out a few sore areas Thursday night, and she skipped the first of two Sprint Cup practices Friday while her crew prepared her backup race car. Beyond that, all systems are go for only the third woman to start the Daytona 500.

"I was relaxed in the car," she said, "and I felt good, I felt comfortable, and I feel more ready for Sunday."

She may have started only a few dozen stock-car races at this point, and she may be racing only a limited Sprint Cup slate this year, but Sunday is when this combination of NASCAR and Danica Patrick truly shifts into high gear. To a certain degree, she already drives television ratings and merchandise sales. She's already an almost constant topic of conversation among those in the media and the grandstand. Her crossover appeal already brings NASCAR the hopes of increased ticket sales and a broader fan base. And it's all really just beginning, given that Patrick is only now venturing into the elite Sprint Cup Series, and carrying with her a sea of untapped potential on the track as well as off. Her thunderous crash on Thursday may not be the biggest impact Patrick makes this weekend.

"It's great for the sport," said four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon. "Who doesn't want to see a female driver come in here and be able to race with the guys and do well and be marketable? It's great for the sport."

Success on the race track, of course, will ultimately determine how much of an impact Patrick can make. For the past two seasons Patrick has competed in a limited Nationwide schedule, while maintaining her full-time status in open-wheel cars and chasing the dream of the Indianapolis 500. Now she's solely a NASCAR driver, running full-time and for a championship on the Nationwide tour in a car owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr. The Daytona 500 is the first of 10 starts she's scheduled to make on the Sprint Cup tour in a car that was originally fielded by Tony Stewart, but is now technically owned by Tommy Baldwin as part of a deal that locked her into the Great American Race.

Even in limited appearances thus far, she's shown signs of progress in the heavier, full-bodied cars, which allow for a degree of aggression on the race track that seems to fit Patrick's feisty nature. Her fourth-place finish in a Nationwide event at Las Vegas last year was the best ever for a female at the sport's national level, and she placed 10th in her most recent Nationwide race at Daytona. Sunday she will chase the best finish by a female in the Daytona 500, which is 11th by Janet Guthrie in 1980. On a Daytona track where the aerodynamic draft helps to equalize competition, Stewart thinks she's capable of much more.

"Did anybody think Trevor Bayne could win the race last year [at this time]?" he said, referring to the 21-year-old driver whose unlikely Daytona victory stunned NASCAR a season ago. "Anything can happen here. It is anybody's ballgame. She did a really good job in July last year in the Nationwide race when I ran with her. I was really impressed at how smooth she was and how good a job she did .... There is no doubt in my mind she has the talent to do it."

Frenzy of attention

To this point, Patrick has been able to move the needle despite only dipping a toe into NASCAR. The immense popularity that made her the biggest star of the IndyCar ranks, and magnified her attempts to win the Indianapolis 500, has been evident from her first days in a stock car. Television ratings for her 2010 Nationwide debut at Daytona were up 33 percent over the same race from a year earlier, according to The Nielsen Company. Of the 13 Nationwide events she started in 2010, 11 experienced increased viewership from the previous season. Last year, as Patrick became a more regular figure around the NASCAR scene, ratings increased for half of her 12 Nationwide starts.

Now that she's set to make the most anticipated Daytona 500 debut since Earnhardt Jr., and is running full-time for the championship on the Nationwide Series, those numbers figure to be on the upswing yet again.

"She is someone who clearly has brought new fans to the sport," said Rich Feinberg, vice president for motorsports at ESPN. "She represents appeal to a younger demographic, which is an important area for us to grow our viewership base, and she's a darn good race car driver."

And all that comes before her first start in the Daytona 500, easily the most-watched NASCAR race of the year. "Sunday's 500 will definitely be the largest audience to ever see her race," said Mark Dyer, senior vice president at International Management Group, and one of Patrick's agents. "... She's had mega-audiences see her play a part in a television commercial, but she's never had the kind of audience that's going to see her race Sunday afternoon."

In terms of merchandising sales, Patrick ranked in the top 15 among all drivers last season according to the NASCAR.COM Superstore. Heading into the Daytona 500, she's moved into the top 10. Nearly 80 percent of NASCAR's Fan Council, a feedback group comprised of 12,000 avid followers of the sport, believes Patrick is good for the series. She ranks in the top five in terms of awareness of NASCAR drivers among the U.S. population, according to NASCAR.

But statistics don't capture the essence of it all. Witnessing the frenzy of attention that surrounds Patrick at a major race track like Daytona sharpens the focus on what NASCAR chief marketing officer Steve Phelps calls the "heightened awareness" she brings to every event she's involved in. That's certainly the case in the days leading up to the Daytona 500, where her every move has been tracked by photographers, reporters and fans. Patrick received one of the largest ovations during driver introductions prior to Thursday's qualifying races at Daytona, further proof of her acceptance among the NASCAR faithful. And all the NASCAR races she's competed in to date still don't equal a full season.

"I think you have to take all things in account," Phelps said. "Is she responsible for every ratings increase? ... Probably not. Her merchandise sales are what they are, and they're robust, and they're going to be even better this year, obviously with the Sprint Cup ride part-time. So it's hard to quantify what that effect is. You can certainly qualify it, because you can see it. You can see the attention that she gets from a fan perspective, the attention that she gets from a media perspective, the fact that she's able to get sponsors to want to be with her and partner with her like GoDaddy. There's clearly something there."

There has been since her first days in major open-wheel racing, when Patrick's tenacity and close calls at Indianapolis -- she's finished third and fourth in the Indy 500 -- made her one of that discipline's few real American stars. Since making the move to NASCAR, that level of attention has increased proportionally to the stock-car league's higher profile. But Patrick seems used to it all.

"I enjoy being different. I enjoy being unique," said Patrick, who on Friday won her first Nationwide pole position. "I enjoy it all, I really do. I choose to look at the positives that come with it instead of the negatives, and that it's a balance. ... Part [of that is] because I'm used to it, and the other part is, what's not to like? I'm followed well, and I have lots of great fans, and I'm always grateful when people write nice things about me. I feel good."

Patrick's influence even extends outside the NASCAR sphere -- Tuesday she became only the fourth NASCAR driver, and the first without a championship, ever to address the National Press Club in Washington. "She gets NASCAR into places where it's hard for them to go sometimes," Dyer said. Nationwide uses her as a spokesperson, and her crossover appeal has translated into a higher level of brand awareness for the company.

"I'm not going to say other drivers don't have the ability to do that," said Jennifer Hanley, Nationwide senior vice president. "Obviously, her Indy experience, she brings that with her. She's talented, she's passionate about what she does. But it also, I think, helps that she's different and she's a woman. That just works well with our brand, and I think it works well with consumers, too."

All eyes on her

It all starts, though, on the race track. Daytona suits Patrick, partly because she's at her best on big, fast tracks, and partly because the restrictor plates used on the 2.5-mile facility tend to bunch up the field and determine a winner based on positioning and aerodynamics as much as anything else. Regardless of her performance at Daytona, her real challenge may come in the weeks ahead, when NASCAR moves onto a variety of different-sized tracks that will place more of a premium on experience.

"A lot of eyes are on her," said Dale Jarrett, a former NASCAR champion who is now an ESPN analyst. "I'll be quite honest, I was very skeptical whenever she came over. Could she handle these cars, get in, and mix it up? I'm a fan. I think she can do it. Is she going to go out and set the world on fire? That's going to be difficult to do, because she's up against the best in the world."

IMG's Dyer said that while Patrick's goals aren't gender-specific -- like every driver, she wants to win races and championships -- she realizes how significant it would be to become the first woman to win a race at NASCAR's national level. Given how male-dominated NASCAR has been for most of its 64-year history, a Patrick victory at Daytona could have a sports-transcending impact not unlike Tiger Woods' victory at the Masters in 1997. Given how popular and marketable she is already, a victory in any national-series event could be an unprecedented boost to the sport.

"I think there certainly is that ability," NASCAR's Phelps said. "She's a crossover star now. ... She's already a sensation. If she starts winning races, that's only going to add fuel to the fire, to be sure."

A crossover star like Patrick -- and to a similar degree extreme sports athlete Travis Pastrana, who makes his Nationwide Series debut in April -- is important to NASCAR because she's capable of attracting television viewers and potential new fans who might not otherwise gravitate toward the sport. That role can bring with it equal degrees of pressure and expectation, but Patrick said she doesn't feel any of it.

"I truly like don't feel like anything more gets put on me," she said. "I feel like there's a lot of hopes, but I don't feel the pressure that ... I have to do something. Trust me, I put in my head enough thoughts that I have to do certain things, not all of them which I share with you. But I don't feel like that. I feel I'm very lucky to be in the situation I'm in. I feel lucky to be unique and different, and I feel lucky to have the fan base that I do. And if that helps in any way, or we can work together to make it better, then that's just a win-win."

If anything, Patrick seems to embrace the factors that make her stand out in major auto racing, and understand that attention comes with it.

"I don't know that anybody at NASCAR sees her as the end-all and be-all on growing," Dyer said. "She's amazingly grounded and focused. When you talk about pressure, the pressure she feels is to keep improving on the race track. The marketing stuff she does on behalf of GoDaddy and her other partners, and the stuff she does on behalf of NASCAR and the tracks -- she doesn't really feel any pressure to do that. She has a lot of marketing savvy. She has a great judgment savvy on what can move the needle for everybody involved."

Added NASCAR's Phelps: "I don't think she's weighed down by it at all. I think she's actually lifted up by it."

That certainly seems the case today. Not only does NASCAR stand to benefit from the increased attention Patrick brings, but the driver herself has completely embraced stock-car racing, despite piloting open-wheel machines for most of her career. Dyer said Patrick is happier now that she can focus solely on her NASCAR program, and although she hasn't ruled out a run at the Indianapolis 500 every now and then, she wants to retire as a NASCAR driver. "This has been very much a long-term plan," Dyer added, one that will continue with a full-time Sprint Cup effort next season.

For all the focus on Patrick's first Daytona 500, it is just that -- a beginning. There are many more races to run, many more things to learn, many more plans to be set into action. There are potentially trophies to be won, and barriers to be broken down, and young female drivers to be inspired. And only then will Danica Patrick's full potential in NASCAR begin to be realized.

"There's no doubt in my mind that winning is the goal, and the ultimate goal is to be a champion in this series, and not just break through because she's a female driver," Nationwide's Hanley said. "... She made the choice to do this. When she does this, that's certainly an expectation people have. I think she certainly has the ability and talent to do that, and it's going to be fun to watch this year."
Source: www.nascar.com/news/120224/dpatrick-biggest-impact-off-track/index.html

With starting spot secure, Patrick has pressure-free qualifying day at Daytona


Danica Patrick has gone through the drama of Indianapolis 500 qualifying, so the pressure in her first Daytona 500 qualifying attempt couldn’t compare to IndyCar’s biggest event.

The Stewart-Haas Racing driver already had a guaranteed starting spot at Daytona through the team’s partnership with Tommy Baldwin Racing, which had one of the 35 spots based on 2011 owners points. Knowing she would make her Cup debut in the Feb. 26 Daytona 500 no matter how she qualified, all Patrick had to do Sunday was secure her starting position for the qualifying races Thursday at Daytona International Speedway.

“This is a little less nerve wracking because there is a little less to worry about as a driver,” Patrick said. “To say that I wasn’t nervous at all is a lie. Of course I was a little bit. I want to do a good job, I want to have a nice pretty smooth line out there and I want to go through the shifts nicely.

“As far as nerves go, it was less nerve wracking, but there was no lack of photographers and cameras.”

Patrick’s week has consisted of a lot of media interviews as well as several single-lap runs in her No. 10 Cup car. Most of that will be irrelevant when she practices Wednesday for the qualifying races Thursday and then practices Friday and Saturday prior to the Daytona 500.

The 29-year-old former IndyCar driver is making the transition to NASCAR full time in 2012, where she will run a full Nationwide schedule for JR Motorsports and a 10-race Cup schedule with the intent of running full time in 2013 for SHR.

“Nothing is anticlimactic at Daytona,” Patrick said. “The week started off with me doing about 2 and a half hours of interviews. That’s not a small day.

“There is a lot of media going around with the event. I like the layout, the format of the week—test, qualify, test, race. It reminds me of how Indy was before it shortened up the month.”

Patrick ranked 29th among 49 drivers who made qualifying attempts on a day that only set the two front-row starting spots for the Daytona 500.

“It’s a lot easier to drive the car here at Daytona,” Patrick said. “Since the track’s been repaved (in 2010), it’s very straightforward as a driver. Indianapolis is something that is a little more difficult.”

Although she has only raced two partial NASCAR seasons, Patrick has a solid base of experience in stock cars at Daytona. In 2009, she competed in the season-opening ARCA and Nationwide races at the track and then in 2010, she competed in both Nationwide events at DIS.

Patrick watched some video of other drivers at Daytona and turned her car down the banking a little quicker than she had in practice. But like most drivers at Daytona, she just held it on the floor and let the car do the work.

“I pretty much just had to hit my shifts,” Patrick said. “I did that. It felt better than it did in practice, so I thought, ‘Sure, this is a good sign.’

“As a driver, you try to go through the gears smooth and be smooth on the track. Beyond that, there isn’t a lot more that we can do (as a driver).”
Source: aol.sportingnews.com/nascar/story/2012-02-19/with-starting-spot-secure-patrick-has-pressure-free-qualifying-day-at-daytona

Danica Patrick To Skip Indy 500 In 2012 In Transition To NASCAR


Danica Patrick became a worldwide sensation as a rookie at the Indianapolis 500, challenging for victory and becoming the first woman to lead laps in the showcase race.

Those Indy days are fading fast.

Patrick's shift to stock cars is long under way and her ties to IndyCar were cut even further Monday – she said she won't run in this year's Indy 500.

Her focus is entirely on NASCAR, and on May 27 she'll race in the Coca-Cola 600. She said skipping the Indy 500 was a "business decision."

"I hope to do it in the future, the Indy 500 that is, and maybe it will be a double," she said. "But at this point in time, after a lot of conversations, it's just going to be the Coke 600 and I think it's going to be a big challenge. It's just is something that didn't work out, as far as the business side of things. ... For this year, it just didn't happen."

Patrick led 19 laps late and finished fourth in 2005. She was a career-best third in 2009.

When she jumped full time to NASCAR she said the Indy 500 was still under consideration. Her NASCAR season includes the full second-tier Nationwide Series schedule for JR Motorsports and 10 races in the elite Sprint Cup Series for Stewart-Haas Racing.

Patrick had previously announced eight of her races. The Coca-Cola 600 – Patrick jokingly called NASCAR's longest event of the season "The Coke 6,000," – is the ninth announced race. The Indy 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 are both May 27.

"We didn't tell her she couldn't run the 500. It was left up to her," team co-owner Tony Stewart said. "It shows how dedicated she is to making this transition."

Stewart, Robby Gordon and John Andretti have all tried to run both events on the same day. Stewart, NASCAR's three-time champion, completed the double twice: In 1999, he was ninth at Indy and fourth at Charlotte, and in 2001, he was sixth at Indy and third at Charlotte.

He's not tried Indianapolis since, and has let go of his childhood dream of winning the 500. He has twice won the Brickyard 400, NASCAR's race at the storied Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

"The hard part for me was you make that decision when you sign up to do (NASCAR)," Stewart said. "The decision you make, you have to come to peace with yourself with saying `I'm not going to do this.' That was my childhood dream anyway. It may be a different scenario and feeling for her. But it was hard knowing when I signed that (NASCAR) contract that I was writing off the opportunity to go race at Indy.

"It's figuring out at the end of the day what do you really want to do. I guess that's the part that even though it was hard to watch opening day of practice at Indianapolis, I'm enjoying what I'm doing, too, and this is what I want to do at the end of the day," he continued. "It makes you want 30-hour days and 400-day years and we always want to do more than what we're capable of doing, but the reality is you have to pick at some point and choose your career path. This is what I've done and what she's doing now."

But Stewart said so long as Indianapolis Motor Speedway makes it logistically possible for Patrick to attempt both races, she may eventually run the race again. He said he has no interest in fielding a car for her, citing how much he's already doing with all his other teams.

The IndyCar Series would also welcome back its most recognizable driver to its biggest event of the season.

"We continue to wish Danica the very best on this new phase in her career. The door is always open should she wish to run the Indianapolis 500 in the future," IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard said in a statement.

Patrick has already set some of her expectations for NASCAR, and sounded Monday as if she expects her debut in the Daytona 500 next month to go as well as her debut in the Indianapolis 500. She tested there two weeks ago with new crew chief Greg Zipadelli, and after leading 13 laps at Daytona in last July's Nationwide race, likes her chances in the Feb. 26 season opener.

"At Daytona, the cars are very fast, so I feel good about that race," she said. "I was lucky enough to get to run with Tony in the Nationwide race last summer and that went pretty good, so I feel good about Daytona and I think there's a real chance, if luck falls our way, to perhaps win.

"I think it's a real chance. I mean a guy like Trevor Bayne last year showed that. Those are the expectations for the first race."

Bayne, a rookie last season, was the upset winner of the Daytona 500, which Stewart said was proof that Patrick is a viable contender.

"A rookie won it last year, why would you ever count yourself out?" he asked. "She's a talented driver. Our cars were really fast at Daytona. At that point, I'd have that confidence."

But Stewart is cautious regarding his expectations for Patrick. Although she said she'd like to knock down top-20 finishes in the Cup Series, the car owner was more concerned with Patrick simply turning laps and learning as much as she can before her scheduled full-time move to the Cup in 2013.

"I crashed everything that I drove when I drove the Nationwide cars. We got to the Cup side and it got better, obviously," Stewart said. "But I think looking at it, these 10 races for her this year, for me, it's just finishing the races and just getting the track time. I'm not worried about what her finish is at the end of the day.

"I think the success at the end of the year won't be judged by where the finishing positions are at the end of the day, as much as what she takes away from each race weekend. That's what my goal is for her."

Patrick has higher goals for the Nationwide Series, where she's run 25 races over the last two series. She has three top-10 finishes and one top five, all last season with JRM. The Daytona 500 will be her Cup Series debut.

"With the Nationwide stuff, it very much depends on the individual weekend itself. There are still some tracks that I haven't raced before, so probably a little bit different expectations for those," she said. "But, for the most part, solid top 10s and getting into the top five consistently through the year would be a goal. And I'd like to get to Victory Lane."
Source: www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/23/danica-patrick-nascar-indy-500-no-coca-cola-600_n_1225938.html?ref=sports&icid=maing-grid10%7Chtmlws-main-bb%7Cdl8%7Csec3_lnk1%26pLid%3D129756

Patrick's 2012 Cup plan begins with Daytona 500


Will also include Darlington, Bristol, Atlanta, Chicago, Dover, Texas and Phoenix
Danica Patrick's long-awaited debut in the Sprint Cup Series will come in the 2012 season-opening Daytona 500, Patrick and Stewart-Haas Racing co-owner Tony Stewart confirmed Friday at Texas Motor Speedway.

Patrick is in Texas to race the first of the final three 2011 Nationwide Series races she'll contest before doing the full 2012 Nationwide Series for JR Motorsports.

Patrick will race a No. 10 Sprint Cup Chevrolet, bearing the number she first used in karting, during Daytona's Speedweeks, where she currently will need to qualify on time. Her schedule will also include events at Darlington, Bristol, Atlanta, Chicagoland, Dover, Texas and Patrick's home Phoenix event, the penultimate race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

“I did not want to start my year in a Cup car -- for the races I was going to do -- at someplace like Darlington. Everybody's going to be watching, especially at my first Cup race."

DANICA PATRICK"This announcement has been a long time coming, and it's nice to be able to unveil the car and reveal the schedule for next year, finally," Stewart said. "We took the whole schedule and took races that we thought would be really challenging for her and to pick tracks she needed to put emphasis on.

"We're keeping two dates open to see how the start of the season goes and make sure we can call an audible if we need to. If we see a place or Danica feels like there's a track that she struggled at, we have that flexibility to plug them in. But we will run 10 full races with her."

"The most weighted factor [in determining the schedule] was places that might be a challenge -- places that had unique characteristics, that would be good to get some extra laps at," Patrick said.

"At a place like Darlington, for example, where I'll run the Cup and Nationwide cars together, one absolutely will help the other. Tony [Eury Jr., Nationwide crew chief] has said sometimes the Cup guys like to do the Nationwide races to get more laps so they get more comfortable on the track.

"Sometimes guys like to do races at places they're good at, so they can just have fun -- like [Dale Earnhardt] Junior at Bristol, or something. But for me, it's going to be about laps."

Patrick understands that some tracks will be easier to tackle than others.

"Darlington's going to be an awful lot of fun," Patrick said, tongue obviously in cheek. "The expectation levels will be low, which is probably a good thing.

"To be honest, from my perspective, I did not want to start my year in a Cup car -- for the races I was going to do -- at someplace like Darlington. Everybody's going to be watching, especially at my first Cup race. And there's going to be more news about it, so I didn't want [Darlington] to be my first one.

"I wanted to start somewhere where I could have fun, and where I had a chance to do really well."

Patrick had a chance to win the July Nationwide Series race at Daytona, the first NASCAR stock car superspeedway race she competed in, until a competitor triggered an accident coming to the finish.

"There are other places where I'll go that will take a long time to learn," Patrick added to her Daytona reasoning. "So it was that, and it's just a good weekend to start, because it's good for Go Daddy and the other partners."

Patrick acknowledged that the more time she can get in stock cars is a good thing. Three-in-a-row to end the Nationwide season is good, but she's not sure about off-season testing for either division.

"It's great to have these three races at the end that's going to lead into the next year, because we're kind of getting ahead of the game for the start of the season next year, as far as implementing certain things and trying different things that we'll carry over to next year," Patrick said. "We want to do that to ensure we start off strong, because as Tony Jr., has said, the first 10 races are the whole championship.

"Conversations about [testing] the Cup car have been very limited. [Stewart-Haas] is in the middle of the Chase and it's just such a new relationship so that's something I need to get on because I want to get out there and I want to do well and the only way to do that is to test and get better."

A Cup test has been scheduled for Nov. 15 at Daytona and Stewart said his group would attempt to have a car for Patrick to participate with in addition to the regular Pre-Season Thunder testing at Daytona in January.

Patrick has lived in Scottsdale, Ariz., near Phoenix while competing in IndyCar -- which means she's not been near the Andretti Autosport shops in Indianapolis -- or JR Motorsports or Stewart-Haas in the Charlotte, N.C., area either. She won't change, even considering she'll have 43 stock car races on her docket next year.

"I go [to the shops] when I need to go and I'll go to make seats and get to be friends with everybody," Patrick said. "But let's face it; we're going to spend 33 weekends together in Nationwide and eight to 10 weekends in Cup together -- so we spend a lot of time together.

"I'm always available by phone and if they need me to fly to Charlotte that's exactly what I'll do. But I don't feel the need to set-up shop [near Charlotte] -- I don't get that many days off [smiling] so to be honest I probably wouldn't be at the shop that many days."

Stewart said that with Patrick's announcement, efforts to hire a crew chief for the program would be ratcheted-up, describing the relationship as a marriage where "there aren't a lot of people that you can plug into the positions."

Stewart also reiterated that his organization would continue trying to put sponsors in place to run the No. 10 car full-time next season and hasn't set a date where the organization wouldn't consider the additional funding. 

Related:

Eury looks forward to full-time season with Patrick
Patrick takes stock in her career move to NASCAR
Caraviello: Danica's new chapter begins sooner than later
Aumann: Patrick follows in the footsteps of pioneers

Source: www.nascar.com/news/111104/dpatrick-2017-cup-schedule/index.html

Danica Patrick To Skip Indy 500 In 2012 In Transition To NASCAR


The Daytona 500 may still be 10 days away, but it arrived in force on Thursday, and it was powered by a diminutive raven-haired driver in a bright-green firesuit. Danica Patrick has yet to turn a competitive lap in a Sprint Cup car, but with her debut in the Great American Race looming, the spotlight on her during the media day that kicked off Speedweeks shone brighter than the central Florida sun.

Can she win the Daytona 500? How might she fare in a pack draft? Will she pair up with de facto car owner Tony Stewart in a tandem situation? For most of her 20-minute session she fielded one question after another about her forthcoming inaugural effort in the No. 10 Cup car, to the point where the Nationwide Series patch on her uniform seemed completely forgotten. And yet, let's not forget that Patrick is running for a championship this season, and it isn't on NASCAR's premier circuit, and that she has a race next Saturday that in the long run may be as important to her development as her effort in the sport's Super Bowl the following day.

“There's very little Nationwide testing here. I thought to myself, what a wonderful thing that I'm doing the Daytona 500, because the cars. ... I think it's going to be great practice for the Nationwide race, and it's something to keep in mind for the future, too.”

2012 Media Day: Danica talks about the track she fears most

No question, having Patrick in the Daytona 500 is huge for NASCAR, which will surely draw the eyes of curiosity seekers as well as fans of the most popular and marketable female driver on the planet. If she wins -- and let's face it, under this roulette wheel of a drafting format, and coming off Trevor Bayne's unlikely victory a year ago, anything could happen -- the significance would rival Tiger Woods' seismic breakthrough at Augusta National in 1997. A Danica Patrick victory in the Daytona 500 would resonate to such an extent, that Bayne's accomplishment last season would feel like a mere blip by comparison.

So let's not underestimate the impact of Patrick hoisting the Harley J. Earl trophy, a prospect that surely keeps NASCAR marketing types lying giddily awake at night. But barring a development of that historic significance, Patrick's real growth this season will come on the Nationwide tour, where she will attempt to make the jump from part-time participant to championship contender. A driver who has competed in 25 total national-division events will now tackle an entire 33-race schedule, which in addition to her 10 Cup starts will make for a workload very different from what she shouldered during her IndyCar days.

Given that Nationwide regulars win so relatively infrequently in a series in which Cup stars like to moonlight, given that there's no Chase to hide shortcomings in consistency, for title hopefuls getting off to a good start is key. "The first 10 races are everything for her," said Tony Eury Jr., crew chief on her Nationwide car. And it all starts at Daytona, where Danica Patrick winning the big show next Sunday might be the best thing for NASCAR, but winning the Nationwide opener a day earlier might be the best thing for her development as a stock-car driver long term.

"The opener is very important," Patrick said, surrounded by a crush of journalists and hangers-on snapping photos on mobile phones. "As Tony Jr. has told me, the first 10 races really set the stage, and set the pace for the rest of the year. It's like being in school -- you get a few bad grades on your first few tests, and just seems like you can't get out of that hole. It's always the same. If you can start the year off well, have great test results at the very beginning, it seems like you just hang up there. Hopefully, it's a good start to the year, and we can feel good about it."

The Nationwide tour offers Patrick the best chance at real progress. We've seen that already to an extent, given that she seemed lost in the tandem draft in the Nationwide opener a season ago, and by the July event at the same track had improved to the point where she could lead 13 laps and challenge for the victory. Her advancement on the intermediate downforce tracks that dominate the circuit was evident in strong finishes at Texas and Chicagoland, and a fourth-place finish at Las Vegas that stands as the best ever for a female driver in the sport's national divisions.

"She made tremendous progress last year," veteran Mark Martin said. "It was amazing, really. It showed how much talent she has."

No surprise, then, that she enters this season viewed as a legitimate Nationwide championship candidate, an effort aided somewhat by the rule implemented last season that prevents Cup regulars from contending for the crown in the sport's No. 2 series. Even so, she's driving for a JR Motorsports operation that produced a fourth-place finisher in Aric Almirola last season, so everyone knows her No. 7 car will be fast. The top title contenders from 2011, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Elliott Sadler, are back and joined by promising newcomers like Austin Dillon and Cole Whitt. But at the very least, Patrick has placed herself in the conversation.

"Is it critical? No. But it would be really nice," she said of winning the Nationwide title. "More than anything, for what it signifies, and it means you're probably running up front every weekend and you've won some races. And I'd sure as heck like to win some races."

And the most likely place for Patrick to win races is on the Nationwide tour, despite the crapshoot that is tandem drafting at Daytona, despite the fact that her Daytona 500 effort promises to dominate the next two weekends. That will change once the circuit moves on from the Sunshine State, and Patrick's limited Cup starts take place at layouts like Darlington, Bristol and Dover that promise to be very challenging for her. Until then, though, be prepared for a level of Danicamania that may rival her stock-car debut in 2009. In the meantime, Patrick feels her Daytona 500 bid helps with her effort in the Nationwide race.

"There's very little Nationwide testing here," she said. "I thought to myself, what a wonderful thing that I'm doing the Daytona 500, because the cars, in my lack of experience, I didn't notice a difference between the two cars. I didn't drive them back to back, but when I came and tested a few weeks ago, it feels very similar to a Nationwide car. I think it's going to be great practice for the Nationwide race, and it's something to keep in mind for the future, too .... I think the Cup practice is going to be great for the Nationwide race, and I think the Nationwide race is going to help a lot for the next day for the Daytona 500."

Patrick concedes that she'll need some luck to have a chance to win the Daytona 500, but then again, in this drafting format, so does everyone else. She'd prefer to stay near the front in an attempt to avoid accidents, but on this 2.5-mile track, the whims of aerodynamics will take cars where they will. Regardless, no one seems to be counting her out. Particularly not her car owner -- OK, maybe Tommy Baldwin is listed as the owner after a points deal locked her into the field, but let's not split hairs -- who is still looking for a Daytona 500 victory of his own.

"Did anybody think Trevor Bayne could win the race last year?" Stewart asked. "Anything can happen here. It anybody's ballgame. She did a really good job in the Nationwide race in July when I ran with her, and I was impressed with how smooth she was and how good a job she did in the two-car deal. Talent-wise, there's no doubt in my mind she's got the ability to do it."

She also has the ability to enjoy success on the Nationwide tour, which barring a shocker next Sunday will be the true springboard of her stock-car career. In that regard, it's not too much of a stretch to argue that Danica Patrick's most important event of these Speedweeks might be not the Daytona 500, but the race run the day before.
Source: www.nascar.com/news/120216/dcaraviello-dpatrick-speedweeks/index.html

Patrick to make Cup debut in 2012 Daytona 500


Danica Patrick just got thrown into the deep end of the swimming pool.

After making her NASCAR Sprint Cup debut Feb. 26 in the Daytona 500, Patrick will complete her 10-race schedule at some of Cup racing’s toughest tracks.

In addition to her full-time Nationwide Series schedule for JR Motorsports, Patrick will compete in the No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet at Darlington (May 12), Bristol (Aug. 25), Atlanta (Sept. 2), Chicagoland (Sept. 16), Dover (Sept. 30), Texas (Nov. 4) and Phoenix (Nov. 11).

Two races are still to be selected, based on her progress in the series.

“We took the whole schedule and tried to find races that we thought were going to be, I guess, to a certain degree, really challenging for her,” team owner Tony Stewart said during Friday’s announcement at Texas Motor Speedway. “We wanted to pick tracks that we needed to put some emphasis on.

In addition to running a full Nationwide Series schedule in 2012 with JR Motorsports, Danica Patrick will run 10 Sprint Cup races for Stewart-Haas Racing. (SN Photo)“Obviously, her partnership in the Nationwide Series with JR Motorsports next year and getting to run the whole Nationwide schedule helps a lot. That was a factor, too, knowing which racetracks she was going to get to participate in and which ones she wasn’t.”

Patrick has a good idea of what she faces in her first attempts in a Cup car.

“Oh, boy,” she sighed. “Darlington will be a handful. I actually enjoyed Bristol (in the Nationwide car), but I’m betting that, once I get out there with (the Cup) guys, it’s going to be a whole ‘nother level. I know Atlanta’s pretty challenging and has some unique characteristics.

“Dover was a handful last year, but we’ll be at Chicago and Texas, which are a little bit more comfortable. I’m excited. There’s a lot I’m worried for, but, on the other hand, as I kind of felt with my Nationwide races so far, is that expectation levels are sometimes not quite as high, so you have the ability to make mistakes.”

The No. 10 has special significance to Patrick, who ran that same number on her go-kart. Similarly, her teammates, Stewart and Ryan Newman, use their go-kart numbers on their Cup cars, too (14 and 39, respectively).

“This is the first time in my professional career I’ve ever been able to choose a number,” Patrick said. “This is really neat for me. This is really the first time I’ve been able to put a number on my car that I chose and I like and has emotion to it.”

Danica Ready for 2012


Danica Patrick is the most successful woman in the history of American open-wheel racing, and is one of the most famous and recognized female athletes in the world. She is the only woman to ever win in the IndyCar series as well as holding the highest finish by a woman (3rd place) at the Indianapolis 500.

Growing up in Roscoe, Illinois, Patrick started go-kart racing at the age of ten, and became a world go-karting champion by her mid-teens. She left high school at the age of 16 to move to England to train for and race in the British national series, where she earned a second-place in Britain's Formula Ford Festival, the highest finish ever by an American.

After returning to the States, Patrick started driving for Rahal Letterman Racing, and in 2005 she became only the fourth woman to compete in the Indianapolis 500. She led the race for 19 laps, a first for any woman in racing. Patrick was subsequently named Rookie of the Year for both the 2005 Indianapolis 500 and the 2005 IndyCar Series season. She continued to make history with her first place finish at the Indy Japan 300 on April 20, 2008, becoming the first woman ever to win an Indy car race. She later placed 3rd in the 2009 Indianapolis 500, which was both a personal best for her at the track, and the highest finish by a woman in the event's history. Patrick holds the IRL record for most consecutive races running at the finish.

In 2010, Patrick began racing in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, and in 2012, Patrick left the IndyCar series to compete full-time in the NASCAR Nationwide Series for JR Motorsports and part-time in the Sprint Cup Series for Stewart-Haas Racing. She continues to set records for women in racing, and remains a sought-after advertising spokesperson and model.
Source: www.makers.com/moments/photo-shoot-double-standard?icid=maing-grid10%7Chtmlws-main-bb%7Cdl18%7Csec1_lnk3%26pLid%3D225685

2013 Sprint Cup Series Schedule

2013 Sprint Cup Series Schedule

Date

Race
Time (ET)

February 17

Daytona Shootout

Fox

February 18

Daytona 500 Qualifying

Fox

February 21

Daytona Duel 1

Speed

February 24

Daytona 500

Fox

March 3

Phoenix

Fox

March 10

Las Vegas

Fox

March 17

Bristol

Fox

March 24

Fontana

Fox

April 7

Martinsville

Fox

April 13

Texas

Fox

April 21

Kansas

Fox

April 27

Richmond

Fox

May 5

Talladega

Fox

May 11

Darlington

Fox

May 18

Charlotte Sprint All-Star Race

Speed

May 26

Charlotte

Fox

June 2

Dover

Fox

June 9

Pocono

TNT

June 16

Michigan

TNT

June 23

Sonoma

TNT

June 29

Kentucky

TNT

July 6

Daytona

TNT

July 14

New Hampshire

TNT

July 28

Indianapolis

ESPN

August 4

Pocono

ESPN

August 11

Watkins Glen

ESPN

August 18

Michigan

ESPN

August 24

Bristol

ABC

September 1

Atlanta

ESPN

September 7

Richmond

ABC

September 15

Chicago

ESPN

September 22

New Hampshire

ESPN

September 29

Dover

ESPN

October 6

Kansas

ESPN

October 12

Charlotte

ABC

October 20

Talladega

ESPN

October 27

Martinsville

ESPN

November 3

Texas

ESPN

November 10

Phoenix

ESPN

November 17

Homestead

ESPN

2012 Sprint Cup Series Schedule

Date

Race
Time (ET)

February 18

Budweiser Shootout

Thu 1 p.m Fox

February 18

Sat 8 p.m. ESPN

February 23

Gatorade Duel 1

Thu 1 p.m. ESPN

February 26

Daytona

Sun 12 p.m. Fox

March 4

Phoenix

Sun 2:30 p.m Fox

March 11

Las Vegas

Sun 2:30 p.m Fox

March 18

Bristol

Sun 12:30 p.m Fox

March 25

Fontana

Sun 2:30 p.m. Fox

April 1

Martinsville

Sun 12:30 p.m. Fox

April 14

Texas

Sat 7 p.m. Fox

April 22

Kansas

Sun 12:30 p.m Fox

April 28

Richmond

Sat 7 p.m. Fox

May 6

Talladega

Sun 12 p.m. Fox

May 12

Darlington

Sat 6:30 p.m. Fox

May 19

Sprint Showdown

Sat 7 p.m. ESPN

May 19

Sprint All-Star Race

Sat 7 p.m. ESPN

May 27

Charlotte

Sun 5:30 p.m. Fox

June 3

Dover

Sun 12:30 p.m. Fox

June 10

Pocono

Sun 12 p.m TNT

June 17

Michigan

Sun 12 p.m.TNT

June 24

Sonoma

Sun 2 p.m.TNT

June 30

Kentucky

Sat 6:30 p.m.TNT

July 7

Daytona

Sat 6:30 p.m.TNT

July 15

Loudon

Sun 12 p.m.TNT

July 29

Indianapolis

Sun 12 p.m. ESPN

August 5

Pocono

Sun 12 p.m. ESPN

August 12

Watkins Glen

Sun 12 p.m. ESPN

August 19

Michigan

Sun 12 p.m. ESPN

August 25

Bristol

Sat 7 p.m. ABC

September 2

Atlanta

Sun 6:30 p.m. ESPN

September 8

Richmond

Sat 7 p.m. ABC

September 16

Chicago

Sun 1 p.m. ESPN

September 23

Loudon

Sun 1 p.m ESPN

September 30

Dover

Sun 1 p.m. ESPN

October 7

Talladega

Sun 1 p.m. ESPN

October 13

Charlotte

Sat 7 p.m. ABC

October 21

Kansas

Sun 1 p.m ESPN

October 28

Martinsville

Sun 1 p.m. ESPN

November 4

Texas

Sun 2 p.m. ESPN

November 11

Phoenix

Sun 2 p.m. ESPN

November 18

Homestead

Sun 2 p.m. ESPN

2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Race Stats

Date

Track

Start
Finish
Laps
Status

Feb 27

Daytona

29
38
138/202
Running

May 13

Darlington

38
31
362/367
Running

May 27

Charlotte

40
30
395/400
Running

Aug 25

Bristol

43
29
434/500
In Pit

Sep 2

Atlanta

23
29
321/327
Running

Sep 16

Chicago

41
25
265/267
Running

Sep 30

Dover

28
38
393/400
Running

Oct 21

Kansas

40
32
154/267
Accident

Nov 4

Texas

32
24
335/335
Running

Nov 11

Phoenix

37
17
318/319
Running

2012 NASCAR Nationwide Race Stats

Date

Track

Start
Finish
Laps
Status

Feb 25

Daytona

1
38
72/120
Running

Mar 3

Phoenix

30
21
197/200
Running

Mar 10

Las Vegas

12
12
200/200
Running

Mar 17

Bristol

19
27
298/300
Running

Mar 24

Fortuna

21
35
63/150
Engine

Apr 13

Texas

17
8
200/200
Running

Apr 27

Richmond

16
21
248/250
Running

May 5

Talladega

17
13
122/122
Running

May 11

Darlington

15
12
151/151
Running

May 20

Iowa

9
30

113/250

Blown tire

May 26

Charlotte

3
13
200/200
Running

Jun 2

Dover

17
30
133/200
Accident

Jun 16

Michigan

5
18
125/125
Running

Jun 23

Road America

10
12
50/50
Running

Jun 29

Kentucky

11
12
198/200
Running

Jul 6

Daytona

3
31
82/101
Accident

Jul 14

Loudon

18
14
200/200
Running

Jul 22

Chicagoland

13
14
201/201
Running

Jul 28

Indianapolis

20
35
38/100
Accident

Aug 4

Iowa

18
11
250/250
Running

Aug 11

Watkins Glen

23
43
2/82
Accident

Aug 18

Montreal

4
27
75/81
Running

Aug 24

Bristol

34
9
250/250
Running

Sep 1

Atlanta

17
13
193/195
Running

Sep 7

Richmond

24
29
218/250
Running

Sep 15

Chicago

12
12
200/200
Running

Sep 22

Kentucky

11
14
198/200
Running

Sep 29

Dover

25
16
200/200
Running

Oct 12

Charlotte

11
11
199/200
Running

Oct 20

Kansas

13
10
206/206
Running

Nov 3

Texas

8
14
200/200
Running

Nov 10

Phoenix

14
10
204/200
Running

Nov 17

Homestead-Miami

14
13
200/200
Running

Nov 17

Finish Overall

10



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