KANNAPOLIS, N.C. – With the long days and nights of Daytona Speedweeks now gone, Danica Patrick and the rest of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers begin the remainder of the marathon 36-race NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule with Sunday’s The Profit on CNBC 500k at Phoenix International Raceway.
For many, Phoenix is just simply “Race No. 2.”
But for Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), Phoenix means much more than just 312 laps around the mile oval.
Patrick owns a home in Scottsdale, Ariz., but more importantly, the region is home to Patrick’s longtime sponsor, GoDaddy, the world’s largest technology provider dedicated to small businesses.
GoDaddy and Patrick have been together since 2007 and navigated Patrick’s transition from IndyCar to NASCAR. In addition, Patrick has appeared in a record 13 Super Bowl commercials for GoDaddy, with the most recent airing earlier this month during Super Bowl XLVIII.
With that as a backdrop, Patrick hopes to put on a good show for the many GoDaddy executives, employees and customers who will be in attendance at Sunday’s 500-kilometer Sprint Cup race.
And while she wants to run well for GoDaddy, she also wants to rebound from a disappointing 37th-place finish in the 56th Daytona 500. She was caught up in an accident not of her making and her day was done after 145 of 200 laps.
The season kicks into high gear this weekend and Patrick and the GoDaddy team know “It’s Go Time.”
DANICA PATRICK, Driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Overall thoughts heading into Phoenix?
“We ran well there in the November 2012, my first race with (Tony) Gibson (as crew chief). Unfortunately, we haven’t left there without a torn-up racecar. We got caught up in accidents in November 2012 and then again in November 2013. We cut a tire and crashed last spring, so it’d be nice to have a good clean run with the GoDaddy car. I like Phoenix and Gibson has won there a few times. Hopefully, our luck will turn around and we can have a good smooth run and get back on track.”
Thoughts on Daytona Speedweeks?
“Obviously, it wasn’t what we were hoping it would be. We tore up two really good cars in accidents that we didn’t start. But that’s the nature of plate racing. A lot of times you’re caught up in things that you had nothing to do with. It was a tough couple of weeks and we didn’t get the results we wanted. The GoDaddy guys worked really hard, though, and I really appreciate that. They had a lot thrown at them and they worked hard and stayed positive. I know the rain delay was tough on every team, not just ours, especially turning around and going to Phoenix this week. People don’t see how hard the crews work. I’ve got a great team that works hard and believes in me and I’m really fortunate to have them behind me.”
Phoenix is a big weekend for the GoDaddy team, given that the company is based in nearby Scottsdale. Talk about that.
“It’s always fun to go to Phoenix because of GoDaddy. We’ll go out on Thursday and see a lot of the executives and employees. It’s really fun to talk to everyone because I always want to know what the latest and greatest is with GoDaddy and new things they are doing, and they want to ask me about racing and what we’re doing. I’m fortunate that we get to race in GoDaddy’s hometown twice a year so we get to visit them and have them at the track. I think it’s really important and it’s nice knowing I’ve got a lot of fans pulling for me at the racetrack.”
TONY GIBSON, Crew chief of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Thoughts on how the new qualifying format will work at Phoenix?
“Phoenix is a weird place because, the later you go, the better the track is because it’s cooler. So everyone will be hanging out waiting to go at the very end. For us, we have to weigh out whether we want to – do we want to risk going late and getting caught in traffic, or do we want to go a little earlier and get clean laps? That’s something we’re going to have to pick through as we go. For me, I’m leaning toward going a little bit earlier than most of the other guys go, just so I know I can get a clean lap. It’s going to be hectic, it’s going to be crowded, it’s going to be crazy. You’re going to have people blending onto the racetrack and off the racetrack while people are running, so it’s going to be interesting. It could be a disaster or it could be really cool. We’ll see how it goes.”
You said that qualifying is one area where the GoDaddy team needs to improve in 2014. How challenging is it to try to adapt to a new formula while also trying to improve from 2013?
“It’s difficult because now we’re trying to figure what the best scenario is for us and for her to do this. So, you throw that on top of her just trying to get better at qualifying. Now, we can’t take what we did last year and just tune on that. We’ve got a whole different thing to worry about. It may help us. Who knows? The car is only going to be at its best when it has max downforce, least amount of drag and the tires are at their maximum. That’s usually at one or two laps.”
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