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Daytona Beach, Fla. – The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series has arrived at the Daytona International Speedway for the annual preseason testing. It’s hard to believe the upcoming season is just a little over a month away as it seems like last week we were crowning Jimmie Johnson for the 2013 series championship. As far as contenders go this year, Danica Patrick feels like her team should be more improved and she could be a threat more this year over last.
“We’re going to be better because I have more experience, because we have more experiences together as a team, because we have more resources and more people, because we have a new energy, because we’re going to use our resources better as a team,” said the 31-year old. ”I think those are all reasons why we’re going to do better.”
After a great start to her rookie campaign last year where she won the pole for the Daytona 500 and finished eighth, Patrick’s finishes dropped off dramatically. She finished in the top 20 just once in her next 13 starts and finished with that lone top 10 finish in 36 races last year.
She hopes adding another team and resources can help her chances as well this year.
“I feel like we’ve got a bigger team,” Patrick said regarding SHR adding a fourth car for 2014. ”It brought in new people, new ideas, new approaches, a new energy, and I think as far as drivers go, they’re going to be able to lead the way really well. They all have a ton of experience, and it’s just bigger.”
She also said, “I feel like we have a lot of really cool stuff going on at the team and a lot of really interesting changes and new drivers and new personnel.”
Patrick, has some changes she’d like to make for herself and her team in 2014 which she thinks can in turn make their weekends a lot better.
“ I think that the core focus is really preparing better cars and bringing as good a cars to the track as possible, and that comes through using our resources, being able to build them more similar to each other as they come out of production so we can keep up with the cars and we’re all driving the same thing. So I think that some of those things are overall what we want to work on.
“Now, me as a driver, I need to work on still a lot of the same stuff that I was working on from the beginning of last year. I think the weak areas tend to be the ones that for me I always have to work on. But improving on qualifying, which I think that we did through the end of the year last year a little more. We started to get into a good pattern with that. But I think what showed itself is how we get to that point during the weekend.”
Patrick hopes the momentum and changes they made towards the end of the season will carry over to ’14.
“We were all doing everything we could earlier in the year to throw different things at it to see if it was better. But working more methodically at the end of the year seemed to help that. Between that and just kind of getting more – what shows itself in getting more comfortable in those first laps qualifying, first start of the race, restarts, all those things, they all kind of go hand in hand, and those are the areas that I have to work on.”
Eric Smith covers all forms of motorsports for Race Review Online. He’s recognized as an accredited member of the media by both NASCAR and IndyCar. Follow him on Twitter @ericsportsguru
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