Looking To Rekindle Short-Track Success
KANNAPOLIS, North Carolina (April 12, 2016) – As NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams head to Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway for Sunday’s Food City 500, Danica Patrick and the No. 10 Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet SS team are ready to return to the short track where they earned a top-10 finish in last year’s event.
Patrick has raced seven times at Bristol in the Sprint Cup Series and has steadily improved her performance at the track. She finished 29th there in just her fourth career Sprint Cup race in August 2012, but that was hampered by an accident not of her making.
She started 43rd after qualifying was rained out, then calmly moved her way through the field. She was in the top-20 and on the lead lap with 66 laps remaining when her car was hit by another and contacted the inside frontstretch SAFER Barrier.
Patrick finished 28th in March 2013 and then 26th that August. In 2014, she finished 18th in April and ended up 27th in August.
When Patrick and the No. 10 team visited Bristol for last year’s Food City 500, she started 26th and overcame a number of hurdles during the race to score a ninth-place finish. That effort marked the sixth top-10 of her career and set the record for the most top-10 finishes by a female in Sprint Cup competition.
In the August event at the track, Patrick was hampered by a pit road speeding penalty and a loose wheel, which relegated her to a 27th-place finish.
Entering Sunday’s race, Patrick and the No. 10 team have already enjoyed short-track success in 2016. Earlier this month, Patrick ran as high as seventh before handling issues relegated her to a 16th-place finish in the Martinsville 500 at the .526-mile Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.
With Patrick’s past performance at Bristol and recent short-track results, the No. 10 Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet team are looking to rekindle those successes in Sunday’s Food City 500.
DANICA PATRICK, Driver of the No. 10 Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Do you like racing at Bristol?
“I do. I like Bristol. Obviously, it can be a little bit hard to pass, but that’s why the bottom becomes important in case you get stuck, or even if you start on the bottom on a restart. If your car is turning, you can make that work, I think, for a little while. I think qualifying is going to be really important, but I’ve liked Bristol since the first time I raced there.”
How aggressive do you have to be?
“Every single one of us is going to go as absolutely hard as possible. There’s never a plan to back off or go easy or anything like that, other than if you are saving fuel out there on a strategy at the end of the race. You always go as fast as you can, all the time.”
How grueling is 500 laps at Bristol?
“It’s fine. I think it is a little daunting to say 500 laps, but there are a lot of times that we do 500 laps, or 500 miles, and this is just one of them. I feel like no matter what happens – whether it’s a 400-mile race or a 500-lap race – you find your rhythm. Time goes by fast sometimes, and then sometimes it’s slow. All I hope is that the car has a good balance because, when it doesn’t, that’s when the laps seem wrong. If we can just get into a rhythm, find ourselves in a good spot and have a consistent car throughout the race, then the time does go pretty quickly, usually.”
Fans come to Bristol and typically expect a lot of beating and banging. Do you like that kind of racing?
“Yes, I enjoy it. I mean, I don’t mind some beating and banging out there. I don’t mind pushing your way around a little bit. It just happens. It’s just the nature of short tracks when you’re running really close to one another. You put 40 cars out on a track the size of Bristol and you’re filling up a lot of the track. The short tracks are conducive for close racing since aerodynamics don’t come into play quite as much.”
What are your overall thoughts heading into Bristol?
“I’ve liked Bristol since I went there the first time. I remember when I set foot onto that track, it was the day before, it was load-in day and I looked out there and you’re standing on the straightaway, but it sure seems like a corner. It’s a very cool track and a spectacle for the fans. I feel like that is always the one that everyone says, ‘I want to come see a Bristol race.’ It’s always entertaining there for the fans and, hopefully, we can put on another good show for them this week.”
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