Building on Experience
KANNAPOLIS, North Carolina (April 6, 2016) – Of all the tracks where Danica Patrick has competed, she is more closely associated with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway than any other.
In seven Indianapolis 500 starts, Patrick finished in the top-10 six times, including a third-place result in 2009, the best finish ever for a woman in the open-wheel historic race. At Daytona, Patrick won the pole for the February 2012 NASCAR Xfinity Series race and then, one year later, became the first woman ever to win a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole by taking the top spot for the 55th Daytona 500. She went on to finish eighth in the Daytona 500, the best result ever for a woman in the history of the event.
But while Indianapolis and Daytona have provided plenty of good memories for Patrick, it’s Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, site of Saturday night’s Duck Commander 500 Sprint Cup Series race, that has provided the most experience.
Of all the tracks where the Sprint Cup Series competes, Patrick has the most starts at Texas, having driven in 19 major-league races – seven Sprint Cup, four Xfinity Series and eight in the IndyCar Series. And it’s a track she’s taken a liking to in all three divisions.
In last spring’s race at Texas, Patrick started 21st and finished 16th. It marked her career-best Sprint Cup result at the 1.5-mile oval and, when Patrick returned to the track in November, she scored another 16th-place effort. In her four Xfinity Series races at Texas, Patrick has three top-15 finishes, including an eighth-place result in April 2012. In Patrick’s eight IndyCar Series starts at the track, she has five top-10 finishes, including a third-place result in June 2007 and a second-place finish in June 2010.
Patrick enters Saturday’s race fresh off of a solid run at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway last weekend. She ran as high as seventh before handling issues relegated the No. 10 team to a 16th-place finish. Still, it was the team’s top result so far this season and moved Patrick up three spots to 26th in the Sprint Cup driver standings.
On the heels of a good run at Martinsville and with back-to-back solid showings at Texas, the No. 10 Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet SS team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) is hoping to build on Patrick’s experience at the 1.5-mile track by scoring a strong finish in Saturday night’s Duck Commander 500.
DANICA PATRICK, Driver of the No. 10 Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:
How would you assess your season so far with the new rules package?
“I feel like my season has been more dictated by the changes that we had in the offseason – having a new crew chief and having him be new to the organization and new to me and then not having any testing. I feel like we’ve just been working on trying to get up to speed and figure out what setup I need to arrive at the track with that works for me. Our crew chiefs are able to work very independently and put what they want on the car. That open book can take a second. We’re working through that and I feel like our racecars have been pretty decent. We just have to arrive at the track with a closer setup so that we can get right into qualifying trim, make a few good runs there and qualify as far up as possible. I think our race days are usually our better part of the weekend and they’re usually my better part of the weekend so, if we qualify well, that usually makes for a pretty decent race.”
Talk about racing at Texas Motor Speedway.
“I’ve always liked racing at Texas. I first competed there in the IndyCar Series in 2005 and they always put on a great show for the fans. Texas is a nice, weathered-in track that’s rough and bumpy. It’s still very fast, but the tires fall off and the surface has really taken on a lot of character over the years.”
You have a lot of experience at Texas and you seem to really enjoy racing there. Why is that?
“I think, more than anything with Texas, it’s the fact it’s a really high-banked, fast track and those are the kinds of tracks I’ve liked the most. I feel that load in the corner and you’re able to carry so much speed through there because of that banking. I feel like it translates more to a feeling I was familiar with from Indy cars. So I like going to Texas.”
- Tom Jensen
NASCAR Editor at FOXSports.com & RACER Magazine