KANNAPOLIS, N.C. – After finishing no better than 21st in her last four races, Danica Patrick and the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) are ready to get their 2015 season back on track Sunday in the FedEx 400 benefitting Autism Speaks NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Dover (Del.) International Speedway.
In the season’s first eight events, Patrick scored two top-10 finishes but, since finishing ninth at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway in mid-April, she’s earned results of 25th at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway, 21st at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, 27th at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City and 22nd at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway.
While Patrick’s 19.7 average finish so far this year remains well ahead of where she was at this point in either of her first two seasons in the Sprint Cup ranks – 26.0 in 2014 and 26.5 in 2013 – she and the team still enter the weekend at Dover wanting more. Neither Patrick nor her team is satisfied with the recent results and both want to get back to running inside the top-20 and earning top-10 and top-15 results on a regular basis.
Given the group’s recent struggles, the Dover weekend couldn’t come at a better time for the GoDaddy team. Two weeks ago, Patrick and the No. 10 team spent three days at the high-banked, concrete mile oval taking part in a Goodyear tire test and NASCAR open test session in preparation for this weekend. The information learned during the test has helped provide the team with a solid baseline as it returns to the track for Sunday’s race. The extra laps of practice, Patrick and the team believe, will be just what the doctor ordered to help get the season back on track at Dover.
DANICA PATRICK, Driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:
What are your thoughts about Dover?
“I always like going to Dover. The track is pretty fun. I remember everyone telling me how unique and challenging Dover was prior to my first race. At the time, I didn’t have a whole lot to compare that track to. They said it was like a larger version of Bristol, but I hadn’t raced at Bristol yet, either. It’s nice to have more of a handle on what to expect heading in there now. Dover is fun. It’s fast and it can make for a really long day of racing. I think that’s part of the appeal of it – how demanding it can be. We definitely want to stay out of trouble, which is easier said than done at these types of tracks.”
How tough is Dover to drive?
“It can be a real challenge. It’s quite quick and, when you come off turns two and four, it drops you down like a roller coaster. You just have to have a good setup and make sure everything is working right or it can be a long day. It’s actually a pretty long race, so you have to be prepared. But it’s a fun track and I’m looking forward to it.”
DANIEL KNOST, Crew chief of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:
The GoDaddy team tested at Dover a couple of weeks ago. Were you able to learn anything that will carry over to this weekend?
“Yes. I felt that it was a really productive test. We tried a lot of big things that really didn’t move the needle, honestly, and we tried some things that maybe wouldn’t seem as big that turned out to be big needle movers. It definitely influenced the way we built the car to go back for the race, as well as our plan for the weekend ahead.”
What is the key to running well at Dover?
“To me, the key to running well at Dover is to keep the car rotating in the middle of the corner. It’s a high-load place and the track surface takes a lot of rubber. It seems like you’re always terminally tight at Dover. The team that can keep the car rotating and put the power down in the middle of the corner is going to be the fastest.”
- Tom Jensen
NASCAR Editor at FOXSports.com & RACER Magazine