When Danica Patrick made the jump to the Sprint Cup Series in 2013, she probably didn’t think it would go as rocky as it has in the first four races. She started out the season on a high with a pole win at Daytona and strong top-10 finish. Phoenix ended early with a wreck, Las Vegas was a long race running around the back, and Bristol was about the same on track for her.
“We had a great start at Daytona. Had a great car, had a good race and just steady the whole way through. Since then I think I have actually been a little bit surprised how we unload. We have been closer unloading than I would have expected. Instead of progressing or staying there we have kind of fallen off throughout the weekend. I think that we just need to strike a good balance when it comes to qualifying and the race. Qualifying is the first step. I have been loose every single time in qualifying. That puts you in the back. You are already starting off down in the race. I have been loose every race except for the last one where we were really tight, but we kind of anticipated it. Then we found out after we got done last weekend that the right-front tow was out pretty far from a hit really early in the race in the first five or ten laps. That kind of explains some of our challenges last weekend at Bristol. We just have to get the car balanced right when it counts which is qualifying and race,” Patrick told media members Friday.
With the series coming to the Auto Club Speedway for Sunday’s Auto Club 400, Patrick isn’t so confident that this will be the track to turn her season around.
“Over the years Fontana has continued to deteriorate and get a little bit challenging and be more slippery. The bumps are bigger and the car moves around a lot more. I think for me I am more comfortable at high grip tracks so I don’t know if this is necessarily something that suits my style as much. One time here I had a really good car at the end of my first year. I felt really comfortable here, really good. Every other time I have been here I feel like it has been pretty challenging. It can change very quickly. I can go out there and be comfortable right off the bat and have a good weekend or not. It’s one of those tracks. Definitely there is a lot of room to move around if you are not comfortable and try and find a place to get there,” said Patrick.
A down weekend here or there won’t be getting Patrick, nor her Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman, down anytime soon.
“You never like to have down weekends but they are definitely going to happen. We will work through our weekend and figure out how to get better for the next one that is all you can do,” commented Patrick.
Keep digging, that’s what you have to do. There’s 32 more races left in the season and that’s plenty of time to turn things around. Starting with the Auto Club 400, which can be seen on FOX at 3 PM EST.