KANNAPOLIS, N.C. – With the conclusion of last weekend’s Party in the Poconos 400 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), has been to all 23 tracks that host NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races.
Pocono was the last facility where Patrick had yet to compete in Sprint Cup, NASCAR Nationwide Series or IZOD IndyCar Series competition at some point in her career.
While she has been to every track at least once, there are seven tracks where she has driven in either Nationwide or IndyCar competition but has yet to race in a Sprint Cup car. That list includes Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway, Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International, Homestead-Miami Speedway and Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn.
That list will reduce to six after the Quicken Loans 400 Sprint Cup event this Sunday at Michigan. Patrick has two Nationwide Series starts and three IZOD IndyCar Series starts at the 2-mile oval but will make her first Sprint Cup start at Michigan.
Last year, Marcos Ambrose won the pole for the June Sprint Cup race with a stock-car track-record lap of 203.241 mph. But high speeds at Michigan are nothing new to Patrick, who qualified for her final IndyCar race at Michigan in 2007 with a lap of 216.967 mph.
Michigan has always been a favorite track of drivers, as the high banks and wide surface provide opportunities to move the car around quite a bit, depending on the handling of the car. And Patrick is hoping Michigan, which is located in the Irish Hills region of the state, brings her and the GoDaddy team a little luck this weekend.
DANICA PATRICK, Driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:
You’ve competed at Michigan in both IndyCar and NASCAR. Do you think people really understand the challenges associated with moving from IndyCar to NASCAR? “I think that people have been really understanding of the fact that this is a learning curve and coming from IndyCar is a totally different place. I feel like that’s been actually very publicized by you guys (the media), that there is going to be time needed to see that through. It doesn’t stop me from getting mad or wanting more. I think that’s just the nature of someone competitive. There are a lot of times that my crew chief (Tony Gibson) wants to remind me that I am doing a good job and that this is the first year, not only in Cup, but my second full time in stock cars. But I have high expectation levels, so I don’t think it’s a bad quality to have. But it keeps me pushing. But, on the other side, I think you guys (the media) have done a good job of educating maybe the more casual fan that it’s a big transition.”
NFL legend Jim Brown was at the race at Pocono, and his daughter wanted to meet you. You met with her on the grid. Do those requests ever surprise you, and do you ever get overwhelmed or tired of them? “I never, ever, get sick of that. That’s sometimes the best part of your day, to hear a little kid say that they look up to you. Or, what I get a lot of the time is, you get their parents saying it for them because there are a lot of times kids get shy. Most kids get shy. Some of them are very, very open, and they feel like they know you and they come and hug you and there’s that kind of perspective. I don’t know what makes them like that, but some kids are really open. But it’s a nice feeling. It makes it all feel kind of worthwhile on days that aren’t good, and to understand that and to put you in the perspective that it’s just one day and that it will pass and they like you because they’ve seen you do well and that they enjoy you as a competitor. So it can definitely brighten up your day.”
What advice do you give to young kids who look up to you? “I give the same advice to kids or adults – it’s just to find something that you love to do. It think that’s the most important. If you didn’t like what you’re doing, you’re not going to be very happy. So finding something that you love to do is the most important thing. So it works out that you make a decent living at it, too, that’s a bonus, sometimes.”
What are your thoughts on Michigan? “Michigan is a wide, fast track. There’s lots of room to move around and try different lines. The intermediate tracks have been a struggle for us this year, but I think we’re improving as a team overall at SHR and I think I’m improving, as well. Our goals are the same as they are every week – to improve on qualifying and to race better. The GoDaddy crew has worked really hard, especially in the last month. We’ve tested a lot, and that means extra days on the road for everyone. I can’t thank the guys enough for their efforts. They’ve really put in a ton of work, and it would be nice to see that work pay off.”
-True Speed Communications