KANNAPOLIS, N.C.– Perhaps no driver is looking forward to this week’s exhibition Sprint Showdown at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway more than Danica Patrick.
Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Cares Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), is coming off a career-best seventh-place finish in last week’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. She drove in the top-10 for the entire race and had arguably the best performance of her Sprint Cup career.
She’s driven well before – with a 12th-place run last spring at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and an eighth-place run from the pole in the 2013 Daytona 500. But never on an intermediate track has she run so smoothly, and she definitely raised the eyebrows of a few observers.
Now she looks to continue the upward trend Friday night in the Sprint Showdown at Charlotte and get herself into Saturday’s Sprint All-Star Race. She can finish in the top two positions and qualify for the All-Star Race or become the top vote-getter online.
Patrick won the online vote last year and is hoping to do so again.
If she gets into Saturday’s race, her No. 10 GoDaddy Cares Chevrolet will be decked out with an all-star lineup of logos from nonprofit organizations, all in support of education. Three organizations are represented: the Boys and Girls Club of America, which helps promote youth development; the SCORE Foundation, which provides free small-business advice for entrepreneurs; and DonorsChoose, a group that promotes K-12 education.
GoDaddy is donating $10,000 to each non-profit organization and encouraging customers to chip in as part of the GoDaddy Round-Up program, which gives customer a choice to ‘round up’ to the nearest dollar on the purchase for a non-profit organization.
GoDaddy has a long history of philanthropic work in support of a variety of nonprofit organizations. To find out more, visit www.GoDaddyCares.com.
DANICA PATRICK, Driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Cares Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Describe your Kansas race and your seventh-place result.
“Honestly, the most rewarding part of my night was probably when I drove around the outside of the No. 48 (Jimmie Johnson) on a restart. That was probably my most rewarding thing all night. I say that with all the respect in the world. It’s a big deal because he is Jimmie Johnson. Aside from that, I was really just overall proud that we stayed up front all night. That was the biggest thing. When the race started, it was about finishing the weekend off right and just staying up there. You know you’re going to go up, you’re going to go down a little bit, and we sure enough did that. But we more than held our own through the whole race. I’m extremely proud of this crew for building a new car that was just awesome. It was so good on restarts and long runs and tires getting old. Hard work pays off and they definitely put the hard work into it. Obviously, I’m really happy for days like that to give back to GoDaddy, who has always been behind me, and get them on TV a little bit.
“(Tony) Gibson (crew chief) did a good job in making changes for the race and it was good from the get-go. And I think what says even more are two things: It was really good on restarts and it was really good when it wasn’t quite right, and it was really good on long runs. I think that just goes to show that this is a new car and they built a great one. And we’ve got more of these coming. That’s the even better news. But, overall, I’m just proud for the team. Kevin (Harvick) has been a great teammate in helping me out and obviously he was very fast at Kansas. I am surprised he didn’t win, but congrats to Jeff (Gordon). And I’m happy for GoDaddy who has always been a big supporter of mine, no matter what. And it’s races like Saturday night that hopefully makes them smile and makes it all pay off a little.”
What does this do for your confidence moving forward?
“I’ve always believed in myself. I’ve always believed that, in the right situation, I can do it. And it’s with all respect that these little moments, like when you drive by Jimmie Johnson on the outside, stuff like that, that makes me really proud of myself and those little moments that give me a little bit more confidence.”
What was the racetrack like? Some drivers said it was tricky.
“Oh, it was tricky and you really had to be careful how hard you went into the corner. It was easy to get it to step out on entry. So you had to be a little bit careful. But that’s all part of the game. Turns one and two were pretty good. For me, I could run any lane and that really helped me out.”
You said Kevin Harvick was a good teammate. How much credit do you give to the conversation you had with him this weekend to your performance at Kansas?
“It definitely paid off in qualifying, for sure. And it did pay off in the race, too. But the little things that he gave me advice on for qualifying really worked. That’s the kind of stuff that I was really excited about when Kevin and Kurt (Busch) came on to the team, and having Tony (Stewart) back full-time, was being able to get those little tidbits from those guys and fast-forward my learning curve instead of having to learn it all myself. So, it’s really cool when you have teammates who are unconditional like that, that want to help you. And when everyone is better and we all get better, it pumps the team up and everybody wants it even more. I guarantee you, we’re going work even harder now. It’s not just sitting back. We’re going to work harder because we love where we’re at and this is what we work for. When you taste it, you don’t want to let it go.”
When you got up to third, what were you thinking?
“I was like, no yellow! When I was fifth, I was thinking, ‘This is good, you know? I feel faster than them.’ They got caught up in traffic in (turns) three and four and got checked-up and I got underneath them. But, when I’m running third, I’m honestly trying not to think about the fact that I’m running third, and the fact that I’ve been looking at that car in front of me the whole race and I need to go pass that car. So, it’s probably best really to think about it more like pass the next car for me than being in a place that I’m not normally in. When you just think about it car by car, I think it’s a little bit more calming. The last thing you want to do is get excited out there and start overdriving it and making mistakes.”
You’ve got a chance to get into the Sprint All-Star Race. How do you feel about that?
“It was very flattering. I’m very fortunate for the fans that I have. I have to say that from a driver’s perspective. I would rather race my way in but, if I have to get in by fan vote, what other way is better than that? I mean, to have the fans put you in the race was something special. I have been so lucky in my career to have such great fans everywhere I go, so I have to say thank you for that.”
- Tom Jensen
NASCAR Editor at FOXSports.com & RACER Magazine