Danica Patrick's goal at Bristol is to finish laps Saturday night

DANICA PATRICK, NO. 10 GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Bristol Motor Speedway and discussed her outlook on both the Nationwide and Cup races this weekend, what goes through her mind when she is leading a race, expectations for next week’s events at Atlanta and much more.

Danica Patrick
Danica Patrick

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT COMING BACK HERE TO BRISTOL IN THE NATIONWIDE CAR AND LOOKING AHEAD TO SATURDAY AS WELL. “I watched the Truck race the other night and it looked like a really good race. There was lots of close side-by-side action, so hopefully the fans like what they’re seeing. It’s definitely going to be trying to get to the bottom for sure. So, we’ll see how that goes. I feel like the set-up of the car will be very similar. I don’t remember running up high in practice and setting the car up there. Maybe that was my problem. I’ve liked Bristol since the first time I came here. I think it’s a fun race track with all the banking. I’ve enjoyed it since the beginning so hopefully it’s a good weekend. Obviously we’re very busy today with Cup and Nationwide. It will be nice to sleep in until 3:00 p.m. or whatever I can sleep in to tomorrow.”

OBVIOUSLY TOMORROW NIGHT IS GOING TO BE TOUGH GIVEN THAT YOU’VE NEVER RACED A CUP RACE HERE, WHAT ARE YOUR PERSONAL EXPECTATIONS FOR TOMORROW? “We’ve got 500 laps here tomorrow night. It’s twice the distance of our race tonight in the Nationwide Series, so finishing all the laps is the most important thing for me. To be able to get that seat time, and to be able to feel how the track changes as well as get use to the distance and work on the car throughout the race. I’ve always said I feel like there is always a rhythm to a race and you have to kind of get a feel for that by doing the whole thing. Again, Tony picked what he thought were the toughest races of the year for me to run. With that in mind, finishing the laps will be the goal for tomorrow night.”

AS FAR AS WHAT HAPPENED LAST WEEK IN MONTREAL, RUNNING OVER A SHOE, DID YOU NOTICE WHAT KIND OF SHOE IT WAS? “I think it was dark with a light colored sole. It looked really funny on the video. It looked like it disappeared. That sucked.”

HAS A LOT OF PEOPLE ASKED YOU ABOUT IT OR TALKED TO YOU ABOUT IT? WHAT IS MAYBE THE BEST JOKE YOU’VE HEARD ABOUT IT? “Well I think the Austin Powers who throws his shoe at me really is probably the most appropriate thing. A lot of people that has asked me about it or talked about it, most just said who throws a shoe, seriously? That’s mostly what I got. It’s disappointing. We were looking forward to having a shot to win. That happened in the lead. Whether it was what caused the problem or not, I don’t know. It definitely was what ended up leading toward the end of day. We were just looking at having a good result. I can’t tell you how many people said after Watkins Glen what bad luck I have, and then I hit a shoe. So, I don’t feel like it can get a lot worse. I don’t know if anyone has hit a shoe before, but it just seems like a very weird situation. I’m ready for it to turn. I’m ready for some good luck. I’m ready for some good results. The team has been working extremely hard. That doesn’t change whether we finish first or last, but it’s nice to get rewarded with a good finish sometimes. I think we are all looking forward to that.”

DO YOU EVER WISH THAT MAYBE TONY (STEWART) HADN’T PICKED THE TOUGHEST TRACKS FOR YOU IN CUP, OR DO YOU THINK THIS IS BENEFICIAL? “Well I don’t think that being able to know whether or not it’s beneficial at this point is really possible. The part that we’ll know if it’s beneficial will come next year when either I feel much more comfortable coming back to those tracks or I have better results. At this point and time it about gaining the experience. There is a saying, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger so I’m sure that it will help in the long run. But, until we get to next year and actually know how I feel will decide whether or not these races helped or not. As long as I can keep my head up and stay confident, and stay looking forward and upbeat, I think they will serve that purpose. But, there’s always that chance that these are humbling moments especially being at the tough tracks they are at and the tough races that they are. I’ve just got to focus on staying positive.”

WHEN YOU ARE LEADING THAT LATE IN A RACE, WHAT WERE YOUR EMOTIONS IN THAT MOMENT WITH JUST A HANDFUL OF LAPS TO GO? “Whenever I’m leading or running really well, or I feel like I have a really good chance to win, I always feel really calm. I always feel like I am where I am supposed to be. I feel a sense of focus, but most of all I feel calm. So, that’s how I felt and that’s what I was saying to my husband afterwards. I just felt really calm out there. It’s a really peaceful view when you are out front and nobody is in front of you. It is nice. Although there are mirrors, it’s still very peaceful when you see nothing out front so I felt good. It was just a bummer. It was just a bummer weekend. That’s alright. We made a good showing, we ran well all weekend, and we led a lot of laps. We had lots of good restarts so we’ll just take that and move on.”

IF YOU’RE A DRIVER LONG ENOUGH YOU GET INTO THESE SLUMPS, AND IT’S A SERIES OF THINGS THAT KEEPS HAPPENING AND BUILDING ON THE NEXT BAD THING. WHEN IT HAS TURNED AROUND FOR YOU IN THE PAST, HAS IT BEEN A SINGULAR EVENT WHERE YOU HAD A BIG TIME FINISH OR WAS IT MORE GRADUAL? “I can’t remember having this much bad luck in forever. I don’t ever remember feeling like just can’t seem to catch a break for so long and in such big ways sometimes. So, I don’t know. We’ll have to see. Sorry for such a short answer, but I don’t know.”

NEXT WEEKEND WILL BE YOUR FIRST NATIONWIDE AND CUP START AT ATLANTA, WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS AND EXPECTATIONS? “I’ve heard lots of great things about Atlanta. It’s good racing. The tires definitely go off with the surface, and the line moves around a lot. I’ve heard a lot of really good things about it. For me it’s going to be a big weekend not only from the standpoint that there’s Cup and Nationwide, but it’s a big Coca-Cola weekend so I’ll be really busy. I think nothing is better than going to a new track and having lots of track time.”

WHAT ARE THE PARTICULAR CHALLENGES YOU SEE HERE VERSES THE INTERMEDIATE TRACKS OR A ROAD COURSE? “This is slightly unique because of how much banking there is, which is part of the reason why I like coming here and feel more comfortable here. I’ve always said that the fast, big-banked tracks are what I feel like I do the best at, and this is a fast short-banked track. I think that particular to this weekend you’re going to be fighting for the bottom without the top lane. It’s going to be a little harder to pass probably. It’s not just going to be momentum. You’re going to have to set it up and really make it happen. That can be a positive and a negative. If you’re running well it’s frustrating. If you’re not running well it does hold up the leaders from coming around and it takes them a little longer. I think for me in general it’s just about getting to the limit of the car as quickly as possible in practice so that we can have effective testing time and really make good progress with the car. I always said that if I hadn’t been there and I’m not comfortable sometimes the way we start with the car is the way we end with the car, but we do a whole big circle with the set up and end where we started. Hopefully it will be good. This is my third time here now. But, short tracks it’s just a different kind of racing. I feel like a lot of the drivers in NASCAR came from short-track racing, local short-track racing and I didn’t. I came from road courses and high speeds. So, I guess that’s why I feel more comfortable in those environments.”

AS FAR AS YOUR CUP PROGRAM AND GETTING READY FOR NEXT YEAR, DOES IT MATTER WHETHER YOU HAVE YOUR CREW CHIEF FOR NEXT YEAR AT ALL THIS YEAR? ARE YOU STILL IN THE PROCESS OF TRYING TO FIND A SPOTTER FOR NEXT YEAR? “I think that the more time you can spend working with your crew chief, the better off you are. But, I know Stewart-Haas is thinking about it. They’re working on it and I know there’s a lot of moving parts with the company right now and they’re trying to see what is going to happen with all the cars. So, we’ll just wait for that. I trust them. They’ve done a great job for me so I trust they are going to make a good decision there and get it done when it needs to get done. As far as a spotter, yeah, I need a spotter. T.J. (Majors) has done a great job for me and I really like having him, but I really can’t have him. So, it’s smart to get on with the program and see who might be able to fill in that spot for the long haul.”

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Series NASCAR-CUP
Article type Interview
Tags chevrolet, haas, nationwide, patrick, stewart