KANNAPOLIS, North Carolina – Believe it or not, Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn is one of Danica Patrick’s top tracks on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series circuit.
Patrick, driver of the No. 10 Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing, finished 13th in the June 2013 event and has a total of four top-20 finishes in six Sprint Cup starts at the 2-mile oval.
Her 13th-place run was the third top-15 finish in her career and came when her team elected to take only right-side tires on the final pit stop. She drove hard for the final stint and wound up with a solid finish.
In June 2014, she went down a lap early in the race, but got it back on lap 147 and drove to a solid top-20 finish.
Last June, Patrick started the Michigan 400 from the 19th position, led two laps and scored a 16th-place finish in the rain-shortened event. When the series returned in August, Patrick started 23rd in the Pure Michigan 400 but was hampered by handling issues and finished 25th, her worst finish at the track thus far.
In addition to scoring solid runs at Michigan in the Sprint Cup Series, Patrick had done a good job in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and IndyCar Series prior to that.
In August 2012, she started an impressive fifth and led one lap en route to an 18th-place Xfinity Series finish. And, in August 2007, she started ninth, led five laps and finished seventh in the IndyCar Series.
In July 2006, she was running eighth when she ran out of fuel just three laps from the end of what would have been a top-10 IndyCar finish. She ended up 17th.
For this Sunday’s Firekeepers Casino 400 Sprint Cup race, Patrick and the Nature’s Bakery team are looking to rebound from last August and score another solid finish at Michigan.
DANICA PATRICK, Driver of the No. 10 Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:
What are your thoughts on Michigan?
“Michigan is a wide, fast track. There’s lots of room to move around and try different lines. I think it’s a momentum track and you have to focus on being smooth. At the end of the day, the car has to handle well. It has to feel good. It has to be a fast car. I think those are the challenges – getting your car to handle well and being smooth and consistent lap after lap at such a fast track.”
Nobody has a bigger role with kids today in NASCAR than you. What does it mean to you to have such an impact on those kids?
“Well, I hope that when those kids grow up they can say they’ve been proud to be fans of mine. It’s not something someone sets out to do – to be a role model, idol or someone somebody looks up to. But it’s a role I am proud to have for some people out there. I just want to do a good job. It makes me reflect on how I got to the position I’m in now, and that’s really by being myself and being honest about the things you enjoy and what you want in life and going after it. I’m proud to be in that role and I try to do a good job. It’s a big honor. Kids are like putty, right? You just mold them, and if I can be any sort of positive influence on that mold of who they become and being a good role model for working hard and dreaming big, then that’s something that’s very flattering.”
Who were your role models?
“I didn’t really have any role models in general, at all – male or female, racing or non-racing. There were people I learned from along the way and people I really listened to and tried to do a lot of the things that they said, but it was merely a learning experience as opposed to thinking of them as somebody I wanted to be like. I didn’t really ever want to be like anyone else. And I guess that was a little foreshadowing because I’m not like anyone else. I feel like I am different. I feel like we all are, and it’s when you can embrace what is different about you and run with it, that sets you apart and makes you special.”
- Tom Jensen
NASCAR Editor at FOXSports.com & RACER Magazine