DANICA PATRICK, No. 10 GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Daytona International Speedway and discussed running the NASCAR Nationwide Series race on Saturday, her accident during the Gatorade Duel race, social media and other topics.

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

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

TALK ABOUT RUNNING THE NASCAR NATIONWIDE SERIES RACE ON SATURDAY AND THE DAYTONA 500 ON SUNDAY: “Two years ago now we started the awareness campaign for COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) this is the third year that I will be in the drive for COPD 300 and it is the third year as a partner. It would be nice to have a good day on Saturday for that. It would be good to get some more awareness out there about a disease that is really serious and takes a heck of a lot of lives and doesn’t get caught until the end usually. Of the 24 million people that have it only half know it. We are working really hard we are accomplishing great things. We have screened over 2 million people at www.driveforcopd.com and things are moving in the right direction. Actually outside of the Daytona fan exhibit you see all those pinwheels with license plates and that’s done by COPD and a guy named Michael Kalish, an artist. The pinwheel is the logo because you have to breathe. Remember when you were a kid and you breathe into the pinwheel, run with it those kinds of things. Things are going really well and I’m really happy about that. We have a big day on Saturday, big day on Sunday.”

HAVE YOU WATCHED YESTERDAY’S WRECK ON REPLAY? IS THERE ANYTHING YOU COULD HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY? WERE YOU JUST HANGING ON FOR THE RIDE? DID YOU TAKE YOUR HANDS OFF THE WHEEL? DID YOU COVER YOUR EYES? “I would be happy to clear that up. In Indy cars we learn to take the hands off the wheel because the holes for your hand are even smaller and we have dashes and the wheel flips. I’ve had plenty of times where I have bruised my thumb, my bones, on the wheel. I was trained to, when there is no saving it and no hope, you let go. That is what I did yesterday. Was I covering my eyes? I honestly felt like my hands were down here (places hands near her chest) but they were higher than that I guess. I did watch it. I watched the second race and then I went back and watched the accident. No, I wasn’t covering my eyes, but yes I did close them as I got to the wall. I didn’t want my eyes to pop out of my head. Obviously, I tried to save it and thought there is nothing happening here so I might as well let go. Again, that is an IndyCar thing. I don’t see any point in keeping my hands tangled up with anything that is going to be moving. I was just talking to medical on the way in here actually and he was giving me some ‘at a girl’ on doing that because all kinds of things can happen the more you connect yourself with stuff. Everything feels pretty good. I hit my foot on the clutch, which is my fault because I moved the clutch pedal towards me. I hit my arm on the side of the seat because of the angle I went in on the right front. We are just going to trim the seat up a little bit. I actually feel better today. That is a really good thing because last night it was starting to get sore. My husband is a physical therapist so he’s got a lot of good tricks and we’ve got a lot of good tricks on the bus to take care of things that don’t feel right. That is why I feel better today.”

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOU HANDSHAKE? YOU HAVE SUCH A FIRM GRIP: “It’s weaker now (laughs).”

CAN YOU PUT IN PERSPECTIVE WHAT THIS ENTIRE WEEKEND MEANS? “Back when I first started racing here in the states in Atlantics (Formula Atlantic Series) and in Barber Dodge Pro Series even. I had a lot of articles written purely about my handshake. I was taught from a young age by my dad to shake like you mean it and to not give a wimpy handshake. I’m even going to call it a ‘girl handshake’ because there are a plenty of guys out there with a wimpy handshake. That is genderless there. Just to make an impression and to know you are there and be strong. So that is where that came from. I’m guessing over the years of practice it keeps getting stronger maybe. I do get a little careful when I get to more delicate people. Sometimes I grab quick and then say ‘oh I’m sorry’. As far as the week goes, obviously yesterday was a disappointment to nearly make it around to the finish, but the worst time for me to crash is either in the first couple of laps or last couple of laps. Unfortunately, that is what happened. The good thing, the good side to that was that I did get that experience. That was very valuable. The team has been really supportive and said we don’t care about the car. It’s not a problem as long as you feel good and as long as you are confident and as long as you like the car then we have a great back-up for you. I’m very comfortable with that. I think they just said that the car that I’m going to be driving just about won last year in the (Budweiser) Shootout or something like that. I’m cool with that. I think everything happens for a reason. Maybe I’m in a spot that is going to be a little bit better for me at the start of the Daytona 500 from maybe an accident or a learning perspective. Who knows maybe the back-up car is better.”

WHAT WAS YOUR FEELING ABOUT HOW THE RACE YESTERDAY PLAYED OUT? WHAT DID YOU BRING OUT OF THAT? “I think I was starting to learn a lot about how the side draft works and how effective it is. I made it up to I think sixth or something like that. I was in a nice straight line, perfect, pretty, organized train at the front. We pulled away a little bit, but I was the last car of the group, so as soon as the lines caught up. I asked Tony (Stewart) what I could have done different in that situation so that I could have stayed with that group. He kind of said when you are the last one of the group; you are the first one to get pulled back. Being not the last person in the group would have been about all I could do. That was good to get up there and it was good to run around and see even when I was further back to see how things happened. How lines moved and people used each other. In fact when I watched the races last night, because I watched the second duel and then I went back and watched the first one. I noticed quite a bit of bump drafting, to be honest, at least some periods of time down the straight-a-ways. I didn’t do any of that. Maybe some of the reason why at times I felt like I wasn’t keeping up well enough was because I wasn’t. I think that will be something that I need to at least check into about when you need to do that and how often you should be doing that. You obviously don’t want to get in a situation where it starts overheating as we saw lots of people were getting hot. I don’t mean just inside the car (laughs). That can be a little bit of an issue here and when you have 500 miles to go you don’t want to start that process on lap 20. I’m sure that there is a balance there. I in general felt very comfortable. I felt very relaxed. I was just lightly hanging onto the wheel and really comfortable. I say that only because I’m not having the ‘death grip’. As there is plenty of times in my early career in IndyCar where I think my left leg was absolutely numb from pushing on the dead pedal so hard. I was relaxed in the car and I felt good. I felt comfortable. I feel more ready for Sunday.”

THERE IS ANOTHER WOMAN IN THE NNS RACE TOMORROW, JOANNA LONG. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE HER? “That is cool. I don’t know much about her to be honest. She was at a test in Orlando (Florida) when we were there and she did a good job. Other than that I don’t know much about her. I’m sure that just like you guys I will be watching all the drivers and I’m sure I will go back and watch the race. That is all I can say, I don’t have a lot of feedback because I don’t really know her. I don’t know where she came from or what she did. I would just say finishing is the most important thing to start with. Being smart out there, being strong, but not being overly aggressive, just finish the races.”

BECAUSE OF YOUR UNIQUENESS THERE IS SO MANY EXPECTATIONS ABOUT WHAT YOU ARE GOING TO BRING TO THE SPORT IN TERMS OF NEW FANS, NEW TELEVISION VIEWERS, ETC. ARE YOU OK WITH THAT? HAS IT EVER FELT LIKE AN ENCUMBRANCE ON HOW MUCH MORE IS PUT ON YOU BESIDES JUST WHAT YOU DO IN THE CAR? “I truly don’t feel like anything more gets put on me. I feel like there are a lot of hopes, but I don’t feel the pressure that I have to do something. Trust me I have put in my head enough thoughts that I have to do certain things. Not all of them which I share with you (laughs). I don’t feel like that. I feel very lucky to be in the situation that I’m in. I feel lucky to be unique and different. I feel lucky to have the fan base that I do. If that helps in anyway or if we can work together to make it even better than that is just a win, win.”

HOW DO YOU COMPARE A WRECK IN AN INDY CAR WITH A WRECK IN A NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES CAR? “That is why I’m excited about this. Get the first big accident out of the way on my first IndyCar race. Get the first big accident out of the way in my first Sprint Cup race. I actually said that before I went to bed last night. I said ‘honey it’s just going to be finishing from here’. I don’t know. It’s a little different obviously in NASCAR. As far as impacts go, in an Indy car I feel like your belts are tighter. You are really tight in an Indy car mostly because even for the lateral load that you get in the corner you can’t be moving around at all. In these cars (Sprint Cup) you don’t get as much of a lateral load. I end up feeling like the belts are maybe a little tighter, which maybe I need to tighten mine up a little in my Cup car. As far as the impact goes, there is a little less room to move around in an Indy car and you are very confined. If my arm hit the side of the seat, because there is room for a seat to be and there is room for angles. In an Indy car if your arm hits the side it’s literally hitting the side of the car, the side of the tub. There is just a lot less room to fly around. When you hit in an Indy car you hit quick. There is a lot less recoil I feel like. It’s like you hit and you slide along the wall. Where I feel like in a stock car, oddly enough, the impacts feel kind of bigger in a stock car. I think it is because of the room you can move and that the cars bounce a little bit more when they hit. They don’t just crush and slow down. There is a bounce there. Even at let’s say Milwaukee (Wisconsin) in 2005 when I spun in one and two in the Indy car. I hit back in and back in two and it spun around and it hit on the inside wall and that second hit felt bigger than the first hit. Sometimes the aftershocks are the parts that hurt a little bit.”

HOW DO YOU HIT THE RESET BUTTON EMOTIONALLY AFTER A CRASH LIKE THAT? THE AVERAGE PERSON GETS BACK INTO A CAR AFTER AN ACCIDENT AND IS USUALLY A LITTLE FREAKED OUT. “We are not average people. We are not average to drivers on the road. We race, I’m not saying we crash for a living, but it is part of racing for a living. I feel fine. I feel good. I’m ready to go. We are not going to go out for the first practice in the Cup car. So the guys get a chance to make sure everything is perfect and make sure the car is ready to go because it will be the last opportunity before Sunday. I would be ready to go if they said we are heading out in the first green flag. I feel good. Do I like crashing? Of course not. I don’t think anybody likes crashing, but it’s part of the business and it’s part of big pack racing like this. So many more cars in a close quarter and while the accident started on the outside you don’t even have to take part in it, you just have to be there. As the first car hits the second car, as the second car hits the third car and then you know I was the third car. Sometimes there is just nothing you can do.”

FROM LOOKING AT REPLAYS, DID YOU FEEL LIKE THERE IS ANYTHING YOU COULD HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY? HAVE YOU TALKED WITH (ARIC) ALMIROLA AT ALL? “This morning I thought the only thing I would be able to do different is grab my belt instead of just holding my arms loose. Not loose, they were tense, but just hold onto the belts maybe so that your arms can’t fly around. I thought maybe that was the only thing I could do different. I think my foot was on the brake because the wheels weren’t turning. I don’t know maybe I don’t need my foot on the brake. I don’t know. It’s pretty tough to think about all those things in those moments that you have before you slam into the wall. I did see Aric (Almirola). I came in from the medical (center) and was going to go back to talk to the team and I saw Aric as he was coming out. He was my teammate obviously last year at the end of the year before (at Junior Motorsports). I get along with him really well. At first he said I hit his left-rear corner and then I was like ‘woah stop the tape I didn’t hit anybody. I had the wheels straight’. I was a little mad by that, but then I said ‘ok so you got hit and you came into me.’ Yes, ok that is what happened. He then sent me a text later on and said he saw the accident and he’s sorry that it ended up like that and that he had talked to Jamie (McMurray). I can’t remember I would have to look back at my texts and see what Jamie said. It is what it is. Honestly, that stuff happens. Everybody is getting greedy right at the end. To be honest I’m surprised it didn’t happen at lap 10. It seems like that sort of is the mark.”

IF YOUR WIN AT MOTEGI HAD HAPPENED IN THE UNITED STATES, DO YOU BELIEVE THERE WOULD BE LESS CHATTER ABOUT YOUR ON-TRACK PERFORMANCES IN THIS COUNTRY? “No, I think that people can choose to look at what I have done and like it. Or they can look at it and choose to judge it and think it is not enough. I don’t think you are ever going to change the people that want to cheer for you and the people that don’t want to cheer for you. It’s funny I did see somebody say something right after the win (in Motegi). I saw something that said oh let’s see what she does against the people in the United States. I thought how funny what a casual fan that they didn’t know that was the IndyCar Series racing in Japan. I just thought that was a random funny thing. I really think that the people that write have the ability and are fortunately enough to be there every weekend to see what I do. They can draw their own opinions. To be honest I have had better races than Motegi, but I didn’t win them. I was in the United States for most of those so no I don’t.”

DO YOU LOOK FORWARD TO THE DAY WHEN EVERYTHING YOU DO IS NOT SCRUTINIZED? “No, I don’t I enjoy being different. I enjoy being unique. I enjoy it all. I really do. I chose to look at the positives that come with it instead of the negatives, but it is a balance. The ups are really good and the downs are sure disappointing. I don’t. Partly because I’m used to it the other part is what’s not to like? I’m followed well and I have lots of great fans and I’m always so grateful when people write nice things about me. I feel good. The people that don’t, I also respect that perspective as well.”

REGARDING A TWEET FROM JILLIAN MICHAELS: “I’m flattered she was watching. There were a lot of people watching it seemed like. I got messages from other countries. We went on vacation in New Zealand a year and a half ago and I got an email from somebody that was watching it there. A lot of people were watching. You are asking what I think about Jillian Michaels wanting to kick Aric’s (Almirola) butt after the wreck. She probably could. He is pretty tall and works out a lot, but Jillian’s got a lot of fire. I know that from working with her. She is very stern and she definitely has an aggressive side to her. Maybe that is why we get along so well. Thank you Jillian I guess. She has my back then.”