KANNAPOLIS, N.C. – In the “Wizard of Oz,” Dorothy clicked her heels and said, “There’s no place like home,” in order to return to her home in Kansas.
After two finishes outside the top-20, the timing couldn’t be better for Danica Patrick and the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) to return to Kansas Speedway in Kansas City for Saturday night’s SpongeBob SquarePants 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
Entering the weekend, Patrick is looking to score results similar to her performance at the 1.5-mile track last May, when she started ninth and finished seventh. The effort was one of only two times in her career she has started and finished in the top-10, with the other being the 2013 Daytona 500 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, where she started on the pole and finished eighth.
She ran well throughout the night at Kansas last May and was as high as third late in the race before finishing seventh.
After back-to-back weeks with results of 25th at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway and 21st at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, Patrick is looking to rebound at Kansas and get back into the top-10. She has already scored two top-10 finishes so far this season with a seventh-place effort at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and a ninth-place finish at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. Those results helped her earn the record for the most top-10 finishes of any female in Sprint Cup Series competition with a total of six top-10s.
In addition to Patrick’s success at Kansas last May, she also earned a top-10 run at the track in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition in October 2012. She also has one top-five and three top-10 results in the IndyCar Series at Kansas, and she scored an IndyCar pole in July 2003.
Given her results at the track, as Patrick looks to earn another top-10 finish in the 2015 season, she hopes a return to Kansas will do just the trick.
DANICA PATRICK, Driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:
What are your overall thoughts on going back to Kansas this spring?
“I’ve always liked going to Kansas. It’s a nice facility and I’ve got a lot of experience there compared to some places, even if a lot of it is in IndyCar. We had a great run there last spring and hopefully we can do the same this year.”
What’s the key to figuring out Kansas, as you seemed to do last spring?
“Kansas is a good memory for me, for sure. I feel like that’s about the time we took a step forward with our speed as a team last year. While I’d love to tell you what the trick is, it’s not that simple. We went back to Kansas at the end of the year and didn’t run nearly as well – at least in practice and qualifying. I think that the car needs to be good. Downforce is critical because it’s a very fast track, so the closer to flat-out you can be, the better. These cars are finicky. It’s about focusing on the small things and getting the most out of the car itself instead of trying to throw the kitchen sink at it if you’re a little off. It’s all in the little details. I think that’s the most important thing.”
What is the hardest part of the track to figure out at Kansas?
“It’s a fast track. I think it’s the same problem we face at most tracks we go to – you have to get through the center well enough to be comfortable enough to be very aggressive with the throttle at the same time. I think that, for sheer speed, you can’t be too loose, but in the race you can’t be too tight or you’ll fall back.”
This Sunday is Mother’s Day. What has your mother meant to you?
“She’s just a great, great person. She’s kind and she’s always been someone I go to when I need to be comforted. I feel like that’s the role of moms, and my mom definitely does a great job with that. I wish my mom and dad could be at the race every weekend, but they make it to as many as possible. I’m very grateful to have such great parents.”
Describe your seventh-place result at Kansas last year.
“Honestly, the most rewarding part of my night was probably when I drove around the outside of the No. 48 (Jimmie Johnson) on a restart. That was probably my most rewarding thing all night. I say that with all the respect in the world. It’s a big deal because he is Jimmie Johnson. Aside from that, I was really just overall proud that we stayed up front all night. That was the biggest thing. When the race started, it was about finishing the weekend off right and just staying up there. You know you’re going to go up, you’re going to go down a little bit, and we sure enough did that. But we more than held our own through the whole race.”
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