KANNAPOLIS, N.C. – NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams head to Kentucky Speedway in Sparta this weekend for Saturday’s Kentucky 400 event. With the Major League Baseball All-Star festivities underway in nearby Cincinnati, Danica Patrick and her No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) are hopeful for an all-star performance of their own this weekend.
When it comes to racing at Kentucky, Patrick has plenty of experience as she’s competed in a total of 11 events at the 1.5-mile speedway, including two Sprint Cup races, two NASCAR Xfinity Series events and seven IndyCar Series races. Her highest Sprint Cup finish at the track was a 21st-place effort she scored last June. Patrick’s best Xfinity Series result was a 12th-place finish she earned in June 2012. In seven IndyCar races at Kentucky Speedway, she qualified on the pole in 2005, led a total of three laps and earned four top-10 finishes.
Last year, Patrick started 10th at Kentucky and ran inside the top-15 for much of the race before handling woes dropped her to a 21st-place finish. Already this season, Patrick has earned two top-10 finishes and seven top-20s – two of those top-20s at 1.5-mile tracks, similar to Kentucky Speedway.
As Patrick returns to the Bluegrass State this weekend, she’s ready to improve upon last year’s finish. And a win Saturday night would truly be an all-star performance for Patrick as it would guarantee her a spot in next year’s NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, an event she’s participated in twice before as a result of winning the Sprint Fan Vote.
DANICA PATRICK, Driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:
What are your overall thoughts on Kentucky?
“It’s one of those tracks where I have experience but, obviously, not a lot of it in a stock car. I’ve been there a lot, but I’ve only run four stock-car races there. I ran a lot of IndyCar races at Kentucky but, obviously, those aren’t really going to benefit me this weekend. The track definitely has character to it with the bumps, and we mainly practice during the day and then race at night on Saturday, so the track conditions can change a lot during the race. When you add all that up, it’s a challenging place.”
How challenging are the bumps we hear about?
“They are challenging for the teams. It’s a hard place to set up for and the bumps do add to that. The GoDaddy team does a good job of setting up the car and I think they’ll be able to do that this week. It’s a tough place and the pavement is old, but it creates some good racing. Hopefully, we can have a good night.”
It’s a bit of a short week coming from Daytona to Kentucky. Your thoughts on that?
“It is, but it’s harder for the crew guys. There’s a lot that goes into getting back and then getting to Kentucky in time for the test on Wednesday. This is a tough time of year and we need to thank them for all they do, especially the hauler drivers. Those guys are earning their money.”
- Tom Jensen
NASCAR Editor at FOXSports.com & RACER Magazine