KANNAPOLIS, N.C. – It’s race number 15, but to fans it seems like so much more.
There is a track, 2-miles of asphalt in southern Michigan. It is nestled in the Irish Hills just south of Brooklyn.
People come from there, but also the automotive cities surrounding it like Fort Wayne, Indiana, Toledo, Ohio, Flint, Michigan and, of course, the biggest of all – Detroit.
Perhaps they stop at the Beach Bar in Brooklyn or grab a six-pack and a bottle of wine at Woodstock Wine and Cheese before grilling burgers or enjoying some pasta selections.
Maybe they’ll wait out two days of rain and watch the race on a Tuesday like back in 2007.
They stay up late and tell old bench racing stories with daylight lasting until after 10 p.m.
People will come to watch 43 drivers navigate the 2 miles of asphalt and use multiple lanes to figure out the fastest way for their car. They will see Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing, try to make history.
Race fans will hope they can see her lead five laps and finish seventh, like she did in the 2007 IndyCar race, or go from 39th to 13th like she did in the June 2013 Sprint Cup race.
Overall, they will hope to see a good, competitive, safe race.
It’s the Quicken Loans 400 Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway.
Pure racing. Pure Michigan.
DANICA PATRICK, Driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Thoughts on Michigan?
“I think it’s a momentum track and I feel like I come from a background of carrying a lot of momentum and using a lot of throttle and being smooth. Hopefully, those are things that will help me at Michigan. At the end of the day, it has to handle well. It has to feel good. It has to be a fast car. Here at this Cup level, it’s very competitive and being a little off is being a lot off. I think my strength of carrying momentum is something I’m used to doing.”
Talk about your race at Michigan last June.
“I think we caught some breaks. Yellows definitely helped us be able to get track position as far as closing up the gaps and being able to pit a few times. We tried to take right-side (tires) and get track position early on. It just didn’t go well, and we just hadn’t gotten ourselves to a good place with the car that I could carry the speed I needed to run with the (pack). It didn’t work out so well. We worked on it and got it better. At the end of the race, the last run was the best run, I felt, as far as the balance of the car, which I was surprised about because we had fallen off a little bit at the end of the run before. We had only taken right-side tires again for a second time. It was nice to just get a decent finish for the team and for GoDaddy.”
Does it help going back to a track a second and third time?
“Of course. Just having some experience to draw upon is huge. So many of the drivers you race against have 20 or 30 starts at these tracks, so to have any experience to draw upon is big for me. That’s what you want when you go back to these places a second, third and fourth time. You want to get better and hopefully the results ultimately show that.”
- Tom Jensen
NASCAR Editor at FOXSports.com & RACER Magazine