NASCAR Teleconference Transcript - Danica Patrick
June 22, 2010
An Interview with:
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. We're pleased to be joined today by special guest Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 7 GoDaddy.Com Chevrolet for Junior Motorsports. Danica is back with NASCAR after a four-month absence coinciding with the start of the IZod IndyCar Series season. She has three Nationwide Series races to her credit this season at Daytona, Auto Club Speedway in Las Vegas. And after New Hampshire, she's scheduled to make nine more NASCAR Nationwide Series starts this season.
Thank you for joining us today. You're doing sort of your own version of double duty now with open wheel and stock cars. How do you think the transition is going to be coming back into NASCAR after this little break? And have you had any opportunities to reacquaint yourself with the stock car before this weekend?
DANICA PATRICK: Hi, everybody. Thanks for coming on. Yeah, I really am not concerned about -- there's nothing that sticks out where it's something completely, you know, something different that I have to prepare for.
I don't know. It's really hard to answer how the transition will be, because it's going to be what it is. And it's kind of unknown. And I've started doing more stock cars, and then went to Indy cars. There wasn't much overlap, necessarily. But there was some testing in amongst. But I've gone back and forth, I guess you could say, between the two.
And they're just so different that you don't get confused, you know? So I'm just looking forward to it. I'm looking forward to getting back to the team, to the fans, to the paddock and everybody in it.
Everybody was so nice when I first came into the series at the beginning of the year. So I'm just really looking forward to seeing everybody again.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Danica.
Q: Just wanted to get your reaction to the news that the IRL is planning to come to New Hampshire next year. What thoughts do you have on that and do you think this is going to give you a little bit of a leg up, getting a look at the track before anybody else?
DANICA PATRICK: I didn't know that was news. I kind of heard little rumors about it. But that's great news. I love the fact we'll be putting another short oval back on to the schedule, because we're down to one this year that we just finished with.
So I always think short oval racing in an Indy car is great. And so it will be even better that I'll get a chance to get a look at the track and get familiar with it all this year if it's on the schedule next year. That's awesome. It's a real positive.
Coming into that area, too, and being up in the northeast a little bit more, I think will be good. So that's great news.
Q: Two quick topics and one quick question. Specifically the New Hampshire, what are your concerns about a track you haven't done before, and it's kind of different from most other NASCAR tracks? And also with the news in your absence that the Hendrick Motorsports situation is kind of getting overcrowded with Kasey Kane, does that give you any concern about your long-term prospects in NASCAR?
DANICA PATRICK: The first question being about coming back in New Hampshire and racing there, right?
DANICA PATRICK: So I'm nervous because it's new and there's so much to learn about the way a race goes, how the race kind of plays out normally, and the yellow flags and the pit stops and how the car changes over a fuel run and how the tires change. And there's just so much that I'm unfamiliar with.
And so that makes me -- that makes me nervous because I care and I want to do well. And I'm not going to know it all the first time I go there, but I hope to do a good job. So I know that people are watching and I want to put on a good show for the fans. I want to give them a reason to cheer for me.
So I just want to do well. So I'm just nervous for that, as it's all very unfamiliar. And then with Kasey coming over to Hendrick, I think that's great for him. He's a fantastic driver. And Hendrick is obviously the top team.
And for my situation, I don't really know. I think that, you know, we first have to go through this process and run Nationwide and see how it goes and see what kind of things are in the future for me.
But, yeah, I mean, gosh, if you had the opportunity to drive for Mr. Hendrick and NASCAR, then that's a fantastic opportunity that anyone should take. And maybe I'll be lucky enough one day. But I think we have a lot to go through to get to that point.
Q: You've hit your best stretch of the IndyCar season here with three straight top 10s. Is a small part of you hoping maybe you were still in IndyCar this weekend, because you could keep that role going, or could you carry some of that confidence and momentum despite being in a totally different car this weekend at New Hampshire?
DANICA PATRICK: I think that it can keep going. It can stop. I don't know. I mean, it was a little bit of a tough weekend in Iowa in the Indy car. But I think we still made the most of what was a difficult weekend.
But I'm indifferent. It doesn't really matter. I think that the roles kind of come from everybody around you being upbeat and positive and on their game. And that includes, if it was in an IndyCar, that includes those IndyCar people. So perhaps it does not carry on over into another series with another group of guys. But, then, again, my confidence is there.
I'm eager to learn the Nationwide car. And I think that -- I think that the best thing I can do for myself on the NASCAR weekends is really come up with some realistic expectation levels instead of having them be like IndyCar expectation levels where I'm hoping to win and I'm hoping to finish on the podium, those kinds of things.
Those are probably a little bit more unrealistic in Nationwide at this point for how much I still have to learn. So that's probably the best way that I can come away with momentum coming from Loudon, would be to set a realistic expectation level, and hopefully that happens.
Q: Wondered how you felt about -- I know this is down the road but I think people here are already talking about it -- racing at PIR on November 13th, I know it's a provincial question, but how do you feel about being in a place, an area you call your home when you are home?
DANICA PATRICK: Well, I was dispointed to see it go off the schedule in IndyCar. So it will be good to be there. It will be nice to sleep in my own bed. I'm excited for that. I think Phoenix is a great track. I think it's challenging, and I'm sure it will be even more challenging in a stock car with less grip.
But it is a bit down the road, and I'll have a lot more experience to that point, especially racing on a short oval or two from now until then. So, yeah, I'm really looking forward to it.
Q: Danica, you mentioned a minute ago in Nate's question having realistic expectation levels. What are those expectation levels this weekend?
DANICA PATRICK: I think it's probably better for me to say like, you know, I hope this weekend I finish in the top 20 or the top 15. And kind of build myself up.
I didn't really set any expectation levels in the first few races that I did. And I think it would have paid off to do that, even in qualifying, set some expectation levels. Like I've had a tough time because qualifying is so different in those cars, you never experience the amount of grip or the kind of car that you get in qualifying until you're really in qualifying.
So that takes some learning. So to say, hey, look, qualifying in the top 20 and maybe finishing in the top 15, that would be great. And build myself up from there and then hopefully one day they'll be the same expectation levels that I have in IndyCar.
But I think it's best for my confidence and my morale to set those kinds of expectation levels.
Q: You had three starts at Michigan International Speedway at IndyCar before the race was abandoned up here. You come in August for the Nationwide race. Can you bring anything from your previous experience at MIS to that weekend?
DANICA PATRICK: Well, I think it's always good to have a visual of the track. It's always very different when you actually get out there from when you can see it in pictures or you're just standing in the infield. So it's nice to know those little things, where pit road is, and the things you have to get used to very quickly on a race weekend if you've never been there.
And when you put all those new things on top of each other, things feel very chaotic and overwhelming. So just having been there and seeing the place and knowing what it's like and how the track surface is and everything, I think it's a really nice thing for me to have that going into the race weekend, because it always goes by very quickly.
Q: What I wanted to ask you about was how much you've kept in touch with NASCAR while you've been gone. I know a lot of fans have followed you. Have you watched tapes? Have you watched the races? Are you studying the races? I know you've kept in touch with your crew chief. But what have you done to keep in touch with what we're doing over here while you've been racing over there?
DANICA PATRICK: Well, I've not been watching anything. It's kind of one weekend at a time for me. I'm home for sort of a day or two here and there. And then it's off to the next one. So I've been very focused on the IndyCar stuff and trying to do a good job and trying to get up there and get a win, and that's definitely taken, dominated a lot of my time.
But I've kept in touch, and we've tested a little bit, and we're trying to make sure that I'm ready to go for Loudon and get familiar again. So just those kinds of things, and now this week preparing for that race, I'll get to the track and I'll find out more about the car. And I don't claim to know much about the car itself, though. I could go through an IndyCar top to bottom almost and be able to explain kind of the car and the things we change and everything.
And a NASCAR setup is much different with truck arms in a car and I find out there's two of them. It's so unfamiliar for me. So the setup is something that Tony, Jr. does a good job of adapting to me, and he knows from the first couple of races what kind of things I need to be able to get up to speed quickly and have confidence in the car. And I think Las Vegas was a good example of that, learning from Fontana. Unfortunately, our race was cut short. But I think it would have been a good race for me.
And so I'll look at some in car or look at some old footage just how the race goes once I get there and once I have that in my hands.
Q: If I could broaden the scope here to the New England sports teams in general. Celtics just went to Game 7 of the NBA Finals. They've won championships. The Bruins went to the playoffs. The Red Sox have won championships. The Patriots and so forth. What do you know about the Boston sports scene in general, and what does your presence in New England do to add to that?
DANICA PATRICK: I know that it's very intense for its sports in Boston. I went to Boston for the first time actually during at the end of the month just before the Indy 500, at the end of May. And I had never been to Boston before. So it's a beautiful city.
It's so much bigger than I imagined. I felt like I was in that bus going through downtown, I think we were in the bus for like an hour and a half. So it's a big city. Lots to see. Beautiful.
And I was kind of cheering for -- I was cheering for the Celtics. I was. I know that's not a popular answer with my friends in LA. But I met Ray Allen a couple of years ago at the SB Awards. He was just a nice guy. I was kind of cheering for them. But obviously the Lakers are pretty good too, and Kobe is a nice guy. But I was torn. I was cheering for the Celtics.
I think they obviously embrace their sports. And I've raced in Watkins Glen in an Indy car, but I really haven't been anywhere other than that in the northeast, the New England area, for racing. So I'm excited to see what the fan turnout is like, but I'm sure if it's anything like how they cheer for all the rest of their sports, it will be great.
Continued in part 2