KANNAPOLIS, N.C. – Quite simply, Danica Patrick and the GoDaddy team are getting better. Just look at the results from the past few weeks.
She has finished 20th or better four of the last five NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race weekends, including her current streak of three consecutive top-20 finishes.
Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), has run better at some tracks where she has not done well in the past.
Three weeks ago at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia, she came in having never finished better than 21st in two starts. But she raised the eyebrows of some observers when she finished a career-best sixth the race.
Patrick’s sixth-place finish is the highest finish by a female at Atlanta. The previous record was Janet Guthrie’s 10th-place finish on March 19, 1978. Only a fifth-place result by Sara Christian in a Sprint Cup race on Oct. 2, 1949 at Heidelberg (Pa.) Raceway tops Patrick’s finish. Christian also finished sixth at Langhorne (Pa.) Speedway on Sept. 11, 1949 and Guthrie finished sixth at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway on Aug. 28, 1977.
Patrick came back one week later to Richmond (Va.) International Raceway, where she had never qualified or finished better than 30th in three starts. She then qualified 13th and finished 16th to continue her successful ways.
She then headed to Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois, where she had never qualified or finished in the top-20 in two starts. She started 18th after qualifying was rained out and the field was set by practice speeds. She then finished 19th to score her third consecutive top-20.
The Sprint Cup Series now moves to New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon for Sunday’s Sylvania 300. It’s another place that Patrick hasn’t finished in the top-20 in Sprint Cup but, with her recent momentum, a good result may very well be on the docket.
She tested there on Sept. 2 and 3 with Chassis 10-839, the same car she will race this weekend. And she has crew chief Tony Gibson, who has won a few races at the 1.058-mile oval.
In July 2011, Gibson was the crew chief when Ryan Newman won the pole and the race at New Hampshire. He was also car chief in August 1998 when Jeff Gordon won.
With the recent momentum, another good run at New Hampshire would keep things headed in the right direction as competitors get down to the final two month of the season.
DANICA PATRICK, Driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Overall thoughts on New Hampshire?
“I really like going there. I like that area of the country and like the restaurants and what it has to offer. I haven’t been there a whole lot, but I enjoy it and like it. We were OK last year and I’m anxious to see what we’ve got this year. Tony Gibson and his guys have won there before, so I’m ready to get going.”
How challenging is New Hampshire to set up for?
“It’s flat and tough to get around, sometimes. You just have to make sure you get through the corners OK and are able to get on the gas quick on the straightaways. It’s tough but, if you have a good car, you can pass and move up through the field. But it can be challenging if it’s not working in your favor.”
You have run well the last three weeks. Talk about that.
“It’s been a good run. We’ve done well at places we haven’t run well before and we’d like to keep that going at New Hampshire. We tested there a few weeks back and hopefully it pays off. The guys have worked hard and I think we are getting there. It’s just a matter of making it all work.”
You have a special breast cancer promotion going into October. Talk about that.
“If you go to www.godaddy.com/donate and donate a least $10, you can put the name of a loved one on my pink GoDaddy car at Martinsville. The money goes to the National Breast Cancer Foundation and I think it’s a good idea to raise awareness, and we’re excited about it.”
TONY GIBSON, Crew chief of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:
You were working at the first Sprint Cup Series race at Loudon in July 1993 and have been to every race conducted there. Talk about your first race there and what you remember.
“I was there with Jimmy Hensley as the driver and Geoff Bodine was in the process of buying the team since Alan (Kulwicki) had been killed earlier in the year. It was a nice little racetrack. I’ve always loved Martinsville and it was real similar to that. I thought it was a really cool, really neat racetrack. I’ve been fortunate to run really well there and been with some great drivers. It’s probably one of my better tracks because it kind of fits my style of setup stuff. It’s a really cool track and I loved it the first time I saw it. I’m looking forward to going back there and I’m glad we race there twice.”
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