Originally written on Start 'N' Park Blog  |  Last updated 10/19/14

Danica Patrick, driver of the #10 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, met with members of the media at Darlington Raceway and discussed her first laps at Darlington and other topics.

HOW DID PRACTICE GO?  “It’s been a busy day so far running the Nationwide car and the Cup car.  I think everything in the Nationwide car felt pretty decent.  Went out there and I felt got up to speed pretty quickly.  Felt pretty comfortable — we kind of did a big circle with the setup of the car.  I’m sure Tony (Eury) Jr. (crew chief) is back there thinking hard about how he wants to set it up for the race tonight.  Then come over and jump in the Cup car and it’s definitely different.  This is a tough place and everything they said about it is true.  This lady in black is very intimidating.  I’m just trying to get comfortable with what the car needs me to do.  Where to brake, how heavy to brake and those kinds of things.  I’ve got my Darlington stripes officially.  It’s all the way down the right side of the car.  We got that one over with.  Tony Stewart has been very helpful coming over and giving me advice and helping me out and giving me a few tips that helped.  I’m very appreciative that Chip Ganassi let Tab Boyd come over and spot for me for this Cup race.  That’s a big help because he’s got a lot of knowledge.  I’ve got everything in my corner, I just need time.  I just need to get comfortable.  It’s definitely not going to be an easy, breezy night.  Like Tony said, I’m probably going to hate him by the end of the weekend.  Come the future, I’m going to be glad for it.”

DO YOU UNDERSTAND HOW BIG YOU BEING AT DARLINGTON IS FOR THE COMMUNITY AND FOR THE SPORT?  “That’s very nice of you to say, but there’s a heck of a lot of big name drivers here.  Quite honestly, it’s my honor to finally be here at a place like Darlington with so much history and tradition.  I think I heard it was the first paved track.  Is that true?  And that’s why it’s called the lady in black because it finally got paved.  I’m learning my history and it’s good to be here.  I had a lot of respect for this place coming in, but having finally hit the track in both the cars, I’ve got even more now.”

IS THE TRACK AS BAD AS YOU THOUGHT IT WOULD BE OR IS IT WORSE?  “I don’t think bad is the right word to say.  I think it’s a challenging track, it’s a unique track and it’s obvious why NASCAR keeps coming back to it because it has those interesting characteristics.  This is not a cookie-cutter track by any means.  That’s the challenge.  I can only imagine that once I finally get a good grip on it, I’m going to be much more confident out there and maybe the lady in black and I will become friends one day.”

DO YOU HAVE DIFFERING EXPECTATIONS FOR THIS WEEKEND NOW THAT YOU’VE BEEN ON THE TRACK?  “I believe my expectations across the board are pretty tempered.  Even in the Nationwide car, I understand that it’s going to be difficult.  It’s a unique style of racing with the way that the passing happens.  I definitely think getting through the night with a respectable night is what I’m hoping for in the Nationwide car and as far as the Cup car — I just want to finish.  I just want to finish, which is going to be a challenge I think.  The cars definitely move around quite a bit and you’re carrying a lot of speed through these corners and there’s going to be a lot of other guys that are around you running really hard.  It’s a narrow track.  Let’s face it, it’s got great big straightaways, but there’s one lane going in and out.  Just getting to the end of the Cup race is going to be the accomplishment for me.  It’s also going to be the best for experience.” 

WHERE DID YOU HIT THE WALL THE FIRST TIME?  “I hit the wall a few times out there.  The first time I hit the wall was my first run in the Nationwide car.  I clipped it with the right rear on the exit of turn two.  Then in the Cup car, I hit it entering three and then the next time I hit it flat in three and four in the middle of the corner.  And oh yeah, right before that I hit the entry to three wall again.  I’ve hit it four times now.  Getting pretty cozy with it.”

WHAT DID THAT DO TO YOUR CONFIDENCE?  “Honestly, I feel glad I’ve got the stripes.  I think, honestly, I went and asked them after the practice, I asked Zippy (Greg Zipadelli) after the practice if that was the type of hit that was going to make me get a tire rub and have to pit or was that okay?  He said, ‘I think you would have been just fine, we would have just pulled the fender out when you came in for a pit stop.’  That’s good knowledge for me.  Instead of panicking or worrying and thinking I need to pit for the car being broken, I can just keep going and not worry about it.  It’s going to happen in the race, it’s inevitable.  It’s going to happen.  I hope not.  I hope everything goes so well it’s doesn’t, but it probably will and it’s good for it to happen and then jump right back into the lap and not let it bother me.  I’m getting more and more comfortable with it.”

DID YOU LOOK AT WHERE YOU WERE ON THE SPEED CHART?  “Oh yeah.  I think I was pretty pleased with how it went in the Nationwide car.  I felt like we had some decent speed for the very first run and never being here before.  Then going out in the Cup car, obviously I’m not super-fast.  I didn’t expect to be very fast.  I expected to just get experience out there and would I like to be higher up the chart?  Absolutely.  Every driver wants to be as high up as possible.  There’s a lot of really, really good drivers out there throughout the whole field.  I’m not coming in thinking I should be anywhere in particular based on my extreme lack of experience and knowledge of this place.  Just to reiterate again, Darlington was chosen as a track to come to in a Cup car because of how difficult it is and because of how much track time it takes to get comfortable.  We’re starting that difficult and exciting process.”

HOW MUCH OF A CHALLENGE WAS IT TO TRY TO GET HIGH AGAINST THE WALL IN PRACTICE?  “As a driver, my comfort level with the wall is definitely medium.  I don’t think that even in IndyCar I liked being up by the wall.  There are drivers definitely more comfortable than I was.  Coming into these stock cars, I definitely got more comfortable getting up higher and higher, but here at Darlington, you’re riding the wall.  You’re not kind of using it as a reference, you’re riding the wall.  It’s a whole new level of getting comfortable with it.  You’re definitely as a driver threading the needle out here.  Every driver that’s out here deserves definite credit for running well and if they have a good weekend, they’re darn good drivers because this is definitely tough.”


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