KANNAPOLIS, N.C. (Aug. 21, 2013) – Certain races are circled on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule each year including Daytona, Indianapolis and Darlington, among others.
Say the words “Bristol Night Race,” and drivers, crew members and fans immediately think of one of the great spectacles on the Sprint Cup circuit. The .533-mile Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway is a sight to behold with 160,000 seats wrapped around the track in what may well be the modern day Roman Colosseum.
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), experienced her first Bristol night race last year as she made just her fourth career Sprint Cup start. It was a respectable outing for Patrick as she was in the top-20 and on the lead lap with 66 laps remaining when her car was hit by another car and contacted the SAFER Barrier on the inside retaining wall of the frontstretch. She finished 29th.
One night earlier, in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race, Patrick started 34th and finished a solid ninth.
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DANICA PATRICK, Driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Thoughts on Bristol?
“I’ve liked Bristol since I went there the first time. I remember when I set foot onto that track, it was the day before, it was load-in day and I looked out there and you’re standing on the straightaway, but it sure seems like a corner. It’s a very cool track and a spectacle for the fans. I feel like that is always the one that everyone says, ‘I want to come see the Bristol night race.’ I feel like the attendance lately has been great, the coverage has been great for NASCAR, and I think we’ll get a lot of people out there.”
What do you think about having Mark Martin as a teammate for many of the final few races?
“I think he’s a great choice as a replacement for Tony. His knowledge and experience is probably second to none in the garage. It gives the team some stability throughout the final few months knowing Mark’s in the car for all the races, except for Talladega. And obviously we’ve got Austin (Dillon) in there for that race. I think it just allows us to get back to a little sense of normalcy and, hopefully, get into a routine as an organization. It’s still tough not to see Tony at the racetrack, but we know we’ve got a good plan for the rest of the year. Selfishly, it will be a huge benefit to work with Mark and learn from him. He’s so respected in the garage. I’m excited to get the chance to work with him.”
Thoughts on Austin Dillon, both working with him last week and working with him at Talladega?
“It’s nice to have a teammate that you know. Obviously, running with Austin in the Nationwide Series, I know him. I love getting other drivers’ perspectives on the cars and just kind of hearing the way they describe things. I think it will be good for the team. He’s young, he’s got fire and he wants to do it. I think he will be a good addition for Talladega.”
Now that you have some experience with the transition, what would you tell young drivers coming to Sprint Cup from the Nationwide Series?
“I think that it’s always difficult as a driver to say the words, like my goal is top-20. It’s not what it needs to be at some point. While your ultimate goal is to win – and, if the opportunity presents itself, you’ll be ready – you still have to set realistic goals along the way to keep yourself upbeat and to keep everybody else upbeat. That’s been something I’ve dealt with this year. I think, coming off of last year, I expected to do a little bit better and I let things get me frustrated and I let my spot on the track kind of take me out of my game a little bit. I pushed the limits a little bit too much and we took that week off and I just kind of looked at the season so far and said, ‘Man, every time I try so hard, something bad happens and, every time I just take whatever the car will give me and whatever the race will give me, they are much better days.’ It’s just figuring out – you, yourself – what makes you work and what makes you get the best results possible. For some, it might be to get fired up and for others it might be to just relax and let the race come to you. It’s just figuring that out. Everybody’s different.”