Danica’s rookie season coming to a close

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Danica Patrick will end her first full season in the premier NASCAR series on Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Homestead, Fla. – Danica Patrick has become one of the most well-known drivers in all of racing and beyond it, too. She draws crowds wherever she goes, and she is in such demand for interviews that every weekend, she is the only driver who meets with the media week in and week out. Her routine interview schedule started in the IndyCar Series and it has carried over to NASCAR.

A year ago, Patrick raced full-time with NASCAR’s Nationwide Series in preparation for a full season of Sprint Cup competition in 2013. Going into the current season, she had hoped to experience steady improvement as the year progressed, particularly the second-time around at certain tracks, but it hasn’t worked too well for her.

In 35 Sprint Cup races, she has earned only one top-10 and four top-20s, but she did take the pole position for the Daytona 500, for which she gained international acclaim for her and NASCAR. News outlets of all kinds couldn’t stop talking and writing about the flashy driver.

Danica Patrick, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
Danica Patrick, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

Today, she met with the media to discuss her performance, and as she stated, the first year was definitely a learning experience. “The biggest learning curve is usually the first year, and I am just looking forward to the results improving. I am looking forward to better weekends,” she said and with her lack of experience, she can’t specifically identify problem areas.

“It’s hard for me to know whether it’s me or the car,” she stated. “It’s important for me to keep my confidence up, and we just need to do everything we can to be more prepared every single weekend.” She realizes her car has good speed but possibly the set-up is off. “Sometimes the car has felt pretty good, but it’s not fast, so there’s a tremendous amount I still need to learn,” she commented. “The tough thing about Cup is that you can’t be a little off. The difference between a good and bad weekend is so much bigger than in the Nationwide Series. You always have to be on your game.”

Patrick has only raced twice in the Nationwide Series this year, and she believes an expanded schedule would provide learning opportunities, plus it would be fun.

She’s always kept a busy schedule, and after the season concludes, she’s looking to unwind but also looking forward to co-hosting the American Country Awards program and participating in the GoDaddy’s Super Bowl commercials and the company’s holiday party.

Danica Patrick, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet and Mark Martin, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
Danica Patrick, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet and Mark Martin, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

The composition of her Stewart-Haas team will change next year with the departure of Ryan Newman and the addition of Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch along with comeback driver and co-owner Tony Stewart. Mark Martin has filled in for Stewart and he’s expected to stay with the team as a test driver and a coach for Patrick.

“Mark has so much experience and has accomplished so much,” she said. “He has been a lot at different teams, and that is a great perspective. He is there to ask driving questions, but he is also there to just help overall from a team perspective. I don’t think you can ever have too much input, but it doesn’t mean you implement and try every single think. I like to ask a lot of questions.”

According to Patrick, two of her favorite achievements on and off the track in the last year were winning the Daytona 500 pole and learning how to hit a golf ball off a tee.

During her time away from the track, she plans to reflect on her rookie season in Sprint Cup and make preparations for advancing her game in the season ahead. And she believes a break will help clear her mind and give her renewed energy for the 2014 season.

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Series NASCAR-CUP
Article type Commentary
Tags chevrolet, danica patrick, go-daddy, homestead-miami, martin, nascar cup series, rookie, stewart-haas