Three road races under her belt, and each went better than the last.
Danica Patrick has driven in three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series road-course races and each result was better than the previous one.
So the driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) is hoping for her best NASCAR Sprint Cup road course race yet in Sunday’s Cheez-It 355k at The Glen, which takes place at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International.
Patrick is driving the same chassis – No. 10-759 – that she drove in all three previous road-course races. She qualified 31st and finished 29th in her first race in June 2013 at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway, and then qualified 35th but improved to 20th in last August’s race at Watkins Glen.
Her best race yet came in June 2014 at Sonoma, where she qualified 11th and finished 18th.
Patrick’s qualifying this year has been far superior to last year as, through 21 races in 2013, her average starting spot was 31.0 while this year she averages 21.0. Eight starts have come from the top-15, while last year only twice was she in the top-15 for all 36 races and both of those were at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.
Not her first trip to the Glen
She has plenty of experience at Watkins Glen, but only two starts have come in NASCAR, with one in Sprint Cup and one in Nationwide.
Six of those starts came in the IndyCar Series and unfortunately won’t offer much assistance to Patrick. As if the incredible difference between a stock car and an Indy car weren’t enough, the IndyCar Series used the longer version of the Watkins Glen road circuit, which includes the famous “boot” portion of the track. Her performances were OK – her best start was seventh in 2009 and her best finish was eighth in 2006.
Patrick did compete in the 2012 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Watkins Glen, but she finished 43rd after Ryan Truex spun in front of her on the start. She could not avoid his spinning car and made heavy contact with his machine.
She is hoping for much better results this week and hopefully can gain the best road-course finish of her career.
DANICA PATRICK, Driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Thoughts on Watkins Glen?
“Road courses are rhythm. You have to have a nice balance and, if your car is too loose or too tight, it gets bad. That’s how I feel about road courses. You really have to be able to strike that balance.”
If you are good at Sonoma, can you be good at Watkins Glen?
“Probably. I think these cars are such big, heavy cars, the difference between Sonoma and Watkins Glen is not that big of a deal. It still has corners and has to go left and right and then go quickly and turn quickly and get the power down quickly and do things it’s not used to doing on a normal, everyday weekend. There should be plenty of carryover from road course to road course. If you are struggling with rear grip issues, you probably are going to not be penalized as much at Watkins Glen as you are Sonoma.”
Are we going to see some drivers roll the dice to get a win as we get closer to the Chase?
“Sure. I feel at the beginning of the season you saw some people taking chances to do something unique. It hasn’t completely gone away, but I think as we get closer to the Chase, you will see a surge in that strategy. What better place to do it than a road course?”
Thoughts on the history of Watkins Glen?
“It’s a cool place and neat part of the country. F1 raced there. I raced there a lot with IndyCar, and NASCAR has been there for a long time. They seem to race everything there. I like what they’ve done with it and the fans seem to really enjoy it, which is most important. It’s a cool place to race.”