Danica Patrick: better finishes continue to ‘get found’
It appears as though Danica Patrick and GoDaddy/Get Found team have “found” their groove.
After a rough first two races of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, Patrick and her team have quietly but steadily found better finishes and, as a result, more confidence and a better points position.
Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy/Get Found Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), was involved in accidents not of her making at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and at Phoenix International Raceway and finished 40th and 36th, respectively.
Patrick and the GoDaddy/Get Found team next hope to continue their climb at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, site of Sunday’s STP 500 Sprint Cup race. The .526-mile oval in Southern Virginia was one of the best tracks for the team last year as Patrick finished 12th in the spring and 17th in the fall.
Her performance in the spring was impressive, given that she’d never seen Martinsville until the first practice session and then had to start at the rear of the field due to an engine change prior to the race. The setback didn’t hamper her, however, and she marched her way through the field and scored an impressive top-15 finish.
The noteworthy rookie outing bested those of some other name drivers in their Martinsville debuts, most notably her team owner Tony Stewart, who finished 20th in his first Martinsville start in 1999. Six-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson finished 35th in his Martinsville debut in 2002. NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace finished 15th in 1984. Dale Jarrett finished 14th in 1984. Dale Earnhardt Jr., finished 26th in 2000. Kyle Busch finished 39th in 2005. Matt Kenseth finished 21st in 2000. Kurt Busch finished 37th in 2000. And Fred Lorenzen finished 24th in 1956.
With their season heading in the right direction and their confidence on the rise after solid finishes last year at Martinsville, Patrick and her team are hoping Sunday a top-10 finish may “Get Found.”
Danica Patrick, Driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy/Get Found Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Overall thoughts on Martinsville?
“Our finishes have steadily improved the last three weeks, which has given the team a good boost. We had two good runs at Martinsville last year, so I feel good heading into this week. Tony Gibson (crew chief) has had a lot of success there and knows how to set up a car for Martinsville. It’s a tough place, very tight with a lot of beating and banging, but hopefully we can stay out of trouble and have a good run. We’re looking forward to it.”
You surprised a lot of people with your first race at Martinsville last year. Talk about that.
“Having never been at Martinsville before, I didn’t know what to expect. All I knew was that it was going to be a little bit crazy. I think you take what the car gives you. Tony Gibson (crew chief) has a really good track record there. He’s a great crew chief. And my car was pretty good all day. People talk about the race result but a lot of the time forget that we spun early and were two laps down at one point in time. So, I feel like that’s almost one of the things I’m most proud of – coming back from two laps down to being on the lead lap and then grabbing a 12th place at the end.”
After a rough start to the season, do you feel like you and the team are back on track?
“We’ve had really good cars every week and have been fast. We just didn’t have any luck in the first two weeks. We’ve rebounded nicely and have been able to get everything pointing in the right direction. I’m proud of the team for the hard work and effort to help dig us out of the hole we were in. We’ve improved each week and hopefully we can keep doing that.
TONY GIBSON, Driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy/Get Found Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:
The GoDaddy/Get Found team had a good run at Fontana. Talk about the race.
“It was a crazy, crazy race. For the last three weeks for the GoDaddy Chevy, it’s been good. We were 21st at Vegas, we knew we should have been better than that but our goal this year was to be more consistently in the top-20. We felt for our improvement this year that was a solid goal – to be a top-20 car and work our way forward from there. Last weekend (at Fontana) was another good weekend for us. We were consistent in practice. I thought we’d be better in qualifying. We were 15th during practice and I thought we’d qualify better, but we failed to do that, so it kind of put us in the back a bit. But Danica did a really nice job and all the guys on the crew did an awesome job. By the midway point in the race, we were a solid 16th - to 18th-place car and at the end we were able to put four tires on it. We wanted to be in offense mode, not defense mode, so we chose four over two. She did a great job on the restart and passed four cars and ended up 14th. It was a great weekend and we’re looking forward to this weekend at Martinsville.”
Overall thoughts heading into Martinsville?
“We’ve always run well there and I’ve had some success there with other drivers, as well. It’s one of my favorite racetracks. We were fortunate enough to win there with Ryan (Newman) in 2012. We’ve had some success as a company there, so we took the same mindset with Danica going in there (the first time). We went and did some testing at Little Rock (Rockingham, N.C.) and that really paid off. It really helped us get her in that rhythm. We knew when we left there that it might not be a bad deal for us. She was pretty sporty at Little Rock. We were able to go up to Martinsville and get a good 12th-place finish and I think we were all kind of looking at each other going, ‘What just happened here?’ We went back in the fall and had another good run – we didn’t finish as well, but were still strong. Our car was really good again and she did a really good job. We’re pumped to go there, but Martinsville is a place where you can go and think you’re going to run really well and it will dish out a case of ‘humble’ to you. It’s a tough place and you’re fighting the beating at the banging all day. But we’re positive and excited to get there.”