What Would it Take at Talladega?
KANNAPOLIS, North Carolina (April 27, 2016) – When Danica Patrick and the No. 10 Aspen Dental Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) take to the track for Sunday’s Geico 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, they will have one goal in mind: getting to victory lane.
Talladega has always been considered a bit of a wild-card race, where a driver’s fate is not entirely in his or her own hands. It is one of only two racetracks on the Sprint Cup circuit where restrictor plates are used. A restrictor plate is a device installed at the air intake of an engine to limit its power in an effort to reduce speeds, increase safety and help provide an equal level of competition. The horsepower-restricted engines require drivers to draft together, side-by-side, at speeds approaching 200 mph.
As a result, superspeedway events often produce wild, unpredictable racing. In turn, there is always the distinct possibility of the seemingly inevitable “big one” – a multicar accident that typically eliminates multitudes of drivers from the event. This type of racing leaves teams wondering what it will take to survive the “big one” and make it to victory lane at the end of the day.
While Patrick has set records at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway – the other restrictor-plate superspeedway on the Sprint Cup schedule – she’s yet to find the same level of success at Talladega. With six prior starts at the track, her career-best finish is a19th-place effort she earned in October 2014. Last year, she finished 21st in both races at the 2.66-mile track.
This weekend, Patrick’s No. 10 Chevrolet SS will sport blue and silver for Aspen Dental’s second of four primary races this season. The car will have a different look than it did in Atlanta, featuring a “Turbocharged Tooth Fairy” logo on the a hood, a nod to Patrick’s role in Aspen Dental’s newest TV campaign that started airing earlier this month.
Aspen Dental dentists and teams recognize that going to the dentist isn’t always at the top of the “to-do” list. And so, as a part of the Aspen Dental Weekend at Talladega, a “Turbocharged Tooth Fairy Squad” will be roaming the grounds at the track to not only ask fans, “What would it take to get you to go to the dentist?” but also deliver on some of those wishes on the spot. It’s all a part of Aspen Dental’s commitment to doing whatever it takes to make dentistry easier.
As the Aspen Dental team looks to get NASCAR fans back to the dentist, Patrick’s team will be looking to answer the question: What would it take to get the No. 10 Aspen Dental Chevrolet SS into victory lane on Sunday at Talladega?
DANICA PATRICK, Driver of the No. 10 Aspen Dental Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:
You’ve always liked going to Talladega. Why is that?
“The fans really make that place. The campgrounds, all that stuff, make it one, big party. You see how much fun the fans are having and that makes it fun for us as drivers. It’s just a unique place. The sheer size of the facility is amazing. I liked it from the first time I went there and, hopefully, we can have a good run and a good finish. The cool thing about superspeedways is that anybody can win. It’s a toss-up, what’s going to happen. So, that’s why it’s fun for me because somebody like me has a chance. On top of that, SHR’s superspeedway cars are really good.”
What are three words that describe restrictor-plate races?
“Three words that describe plate racing would be: crazy, fast and risky.”
Describe the intensity of restrictor-plate racing.
“It’s super easy to drive around the track flat-out by yourself. It’s not hard at all. When you put all of the other cars around you, it’s not necessarily about how the car feels on the track, although that can be an issue, for sure, at times. It’s more about what everyone else is doing around you. You’re constantly looking at what’s happening in front of you. You’re also looking at what’s behind you. Probably more important than what’s happening in front of you is what’s happening behind you – who’s coming, who’s following you, who’s helping you move forward. There have been plenty of times that I’ve gone to the bottom and complained, ‘Where’s my help?’ It seems like I’ll slot in on the bottom line and then everyone behind me disappears. You really have to have people behind you, pushing you. The race is constantly evolving and you and your spotter have to be on it. It’s a big race for spotters, so having a really good one that you trust is very important.”
What is your favorite part of going into the Talladega infield?
“My favorite part about going into the infield at Talladega is seeing things you’re not supposed to see. I mean, it’s a crazy party and I feel like those are the kinds of things that keep people coming back. It’s the atmosphere and the whole package of the weekend – not just the racing – but the parties, having fun and making memories.”
- Tom Jensen
NASCAR Editor at FOXSports.com & RACER Magazine