KANNAPOLIS, N.C. – As the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series visits the first short track on its 2015 schedule, Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 TaxACT Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), looks to continue making gains in Sunday’s Martinsville 500 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.
As Sprint Cup teams enter their sixth race of the year, Patrick’s season has gotten off to a solid start with an average starting position of 20.8 and an average finish of 21.8, and she’s ranked 23rd in the driver standings. That effort is an improvement from her first two seasons at the Sprint Cup level. In 2013, she had an average start of 31.8, an average finish of 26.8 and was 29th in the standings. Last year, she had an average start of 29, an average finish of 25.8 and was ranked 27th.
Coming off a top-20 run last weekend at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, Patrick returns to a track where she’s experienced success before. In April 2013, Patrick scored a 12th-place finish at the .526-mile Southern Virginia oval. Her performance at the short track was impressive, given that she’d never seen Martinsville until the first practice session and then had to start at the rear of the field due to an engine change prior to the race. Undaunted, she marched her way through the field and scored the impressive top-15 finish.
Patrick’s noteworthy rookie outing bested those of some other name drivers in their Martinsville debuts, most notably her team owner Tony Stewart, who finished 20th in his first Martinsville start in 1999. Six-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson finished 35th in his Martinsville debut in 2002. NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace finished 15th in 1984. Dale Jarrett finished 14th in 1984. Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 26th in 2000. Kyle Busch finished 39th in 2005. Matt Kenseth finished 21st in 2000. Kurt Busch finished 37th in 2000. And Fred Lorenzen finished 24th in 1956.
When Patrick returns to make her fifth Sprint Cup start at Martinsville this weekend, her No. 10 Chevrolet SS will feature a much different look as it carries the colors of TaxACT, the official tax preparation service partner of Patrick and SHR.
TaxACT is the maker of do-it-yourself digital tax filing solutions that help millions of Americans file their taxes. The company makes its on-track debut as a primary Sprint Cup sponsor with Patrick and SHR during the height of tax season as consumers are ready to file their annual income tax returns. TaxACT was the pioneer of free federal tax filing in 2005 and has continued to provide truly free federal tax return filing with no restrictions every year since.
As Patrick enters Sunday’s race prepared to continue making strides at the Sprint Cup level, the deadline is fast approaching for tax filers. TaxACT provides a fast, easy, free federal tax solution with a maximum refund guaranteed. Consumers can visit TaxACT.com to file federal taxes for free.
DANICA PATRICK, Driver of the No. 10 TaxACT Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:
What are your overall thoughts on Martinsville?
“It’s a tough place, very tight with a lot of beating and banging, but hopefully we can stay out of trouble and have a good run. It’s a short track and those leaders are on you very quickly if you don’t have a good qualifying run, so qualifying well on Friday will be key. Daniel (Knost, crew chief) has a pretty good track record there after winning the race last spring with Kurt (Busch), so we’re looking forward to this weekend.”
You had a great run in your very first trip to Martinsville in the spring of 2013. Talk about that.
“Having never been at Martinsville before, I didn’t know what to expect back then. All I knew was that it was going to be a little bit crazy. I think you take what the car gives you, and my car was pretty good all day. We kind of bounced around from being a little loose to a little tight, but we got back up there. People talk about the race result but a lot of the time they forget that we spun early and were two laps down at one point in time. So, I feel like that’s almost one of the things I’m most proud of – coming back from two laps down to being on the lead lap and then grabbing a 12th place at the end.”
- Tom Jensen
NASCAR Editor at FOXSports.com & RACER Magazine