KANNAPOLIS, N.C. – Danica Patrick and the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) head to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for Sunday’s Kobalt 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race with the goal of gaining momentum on the 2015 season’s second 1.5-mile oval.
After earning a 21st-place finish in the season-opening Daytona 500, Patrick and her team went to Atlanta Motor Speedway for the start of the “regular” Sprint Cup season. Patrick started the race from the 18th position and, while her No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet displayed notable speed, she had to overcome an electrical fire underneath the dash of her car that left her without a working tachometer and with handling issues. Despite the adversity, Patrick and her team rallied. Crew chief Daniel Knost called for adjustments that helped improve her car’s handling over the remainder of the event and she was able to score a 16th-place finish.
With last weekend’s race behind them, Patrick and her team head to Las Vegas for Sunday’s 400-mile event. The 32-year-old driver has made two Sprint Cup starts at Las Vegas and earned finishes of 21st in 2014 and 33rd in 2013.
While she’s yet to finish inside the top-20 at the Sprint Cup level at Las Vegas, Patrick is no stranger to success at the 1.5-mile oval. In 2011, Patrick brought home a fourth-place finish in Xfinity Series competition at the track. That effort marked the best-ever finish by a woman in a NASCAR national stock-car series, topping a fifth-place run by the late Sara Christian in a Sprint Cup race in 1949 at Heidelberg (Pa.) Raceway.
With that experience in her back pocket, Patrick and her No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet team are looking to score a solid Sprint Cup finish in Las Vegas.
DANICA PATRICK, Driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:
You finished 16th at Atlanta and this week the Sprint Cup teams head to Las Vegas, another 1.5-mile track. Talk about your run last week and your outlook for the weekend ahead.
“It’s always nice to start well because it seems like you spend the whole year catching up if you don’t. And it seems like, if you have a good start, then it’s so much easier to keep it there. I think so far the GoDaddy team has done a good job of giving me cars that feel comfortable. I feel like we made a lot of progress as a team last weekend in Atlanta and hopefully that will carry over to Las Vegas.”
How would you assess the start of the 2015 season thus far?
“I think so far, so good. As I said in all of our media availabilities before we ever hit the track this year, it is our unrealized potential that is exciting to me. It is my fourth year in stock cars and my third year in (Sprint) Cup. It’s Daniel’s (Knost, crew chief) sixth year in NASCAR and his second year as a crew chief. We don’t have a ton of experience and you would think that there is only ‘up’ to go. The potential of where we could end up and where we can get to is encouraging.”
DANIEL KNOST, Crew Chief of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Coming off a solid run at Atlanta, is there anything you learned last weekend that will transfer to this week in Las Vegas?
“I hope that some of the things we did last weekend will translate to Las Vegas. I think that (Las Vegas) is a little bit different. There’s a really rough section in turn one that is very difficult to manage, and then (turns) three and four are a lot smoother, whereas Atlanta is kind of rough the whole way around. The corners are a lot more separate at Las Vegas than they are at Atlanta and I actually think the bumps are significantly more severe in turn one at Las Vegas. It’s kind of like you have to mitigate two ends of the track that are a lot more different than you do at Atlanta. I’m not sure where we need to fall in balancing the two of those, but I thought we did a good job of diagnosing the things she was feeling and coming up with solutions that fixed those issues at Atlanta. I suspect we’ll have some of the same general issues this week just because of the rough sections of Las Vegas. I don’t think drive off (the corner) is as big of a deal at Las Vegas, but definitely with the dirt in the desert it can be. We’ve got some ideas on how to address those issues and hopefully those are things that will translate. One of the biggest differences going into this weekend is that they’ve changed the tires for Las Vegas this year, so we’re going to have to figure out where we need to set the tires for the new combination. At Atlanta, we had run on those tires for several years, so we had that part sorted out.”
- Tom Jensen
NASCAR Editor at FOXSports.com & RACER Magazine