Continued from part 1
Q: I know you've answered this before, but I remember earlier in the season after you'd run a few Nationwide races, Darrell Waltrip was one of the people who said racing in the Nationwide Series would help you in IndyCar racing. Since then, with some of your results in IndyCar, some people have said that racing in the Nationwide Series has hurt you in IndyCar. Would you comment on that, please?
DANICA PATRICK: I don't see how racing cars can make you a worse race car driver. So I put every ounce of effort into everything that I do. And you know the IndyCar Series has become the most difficult field I've been in. The drivers are so good and everybody's so equal out there that you have an on weekend, and like at Texas for me last weekend, or the weekend before, I almost won the race. Then you have an off weekend and you find yourself in 15th.
I guess it's a little bit maybe more like NASCAR. The fields are so good and everybody's so close, and everything needs to go right. So I'm enjoying the two of them. I think it's best -- I think it's good for any race car driver to be in the seat a lot, and that's definitely what I'm doing.
Q: I was wondering if it's any easier for you to go to New Hampshire after your last three IndyCar results, having the three top 10s there as opposed to maybe if you were coming back to NASCAR about six weeks ago?
DANICA PATRICK: I think that it's a whole different thing. I really think a lot about like what I did the last time I was in a stock car and what I need to remember for next time. And so -- and I've found that the fans and the people have been very positive and embracing. And so I really think it's just -- any time is the right time. So it doesn't matter what's happening in the IndyCar side.
As one of my friends told me, you're one good race -- you're one weekend away from turning it around, because it just takes one. It could be any one. It could be a NASCAR race. It could be an IndyCar race. It just so happens I've had a couple of good runs in the last few weeks. And I'm sure that helps my confidence a little bit. But it's still a whole new weekend with expectation levels and people to impress and me not wanting to let myself down on what I think is possible.
Q: Are there any courses you're looking forward to racing in NASCAR courses that maybe you've heard about or maybe ones you've raced in your Indy car?
DANICA PATRICK: Hmm, well, the one coming up being Loudon, I'm excited because it's a lot like Milwaukee, I heard, and I have always enjoyed going to Milwaukee over the last -- well, unfortunately not this year but for seven years previously. And so it's good to get that feel of a nice flat track and a short track. So that one.
I look forward to going back to Phoenix as well. It's a place I thought was cool in an IndyCar. I think it will be interesting to see how Michigan will go, since it's the Car of Tomorrow, and it's just one of those sort of big, fast tracks at least in an IndyCar. I'm curious how it will be in a stock car.
I felt things have been very different from one car to another at a track. So it will probably seem a lot -- at Fontana, at the beginning of the year, it was a place that in an IndyCar you are just flat out running on the white line. You never lift.
And then I get into a stock car and traditional line and the car is -- you have to lift and maybe even brake sometimes. And all of a sudden this track that felt really big in an IndyCar felt really small in a stock car; and, of course, I was going even slower.
So things are definitely different. But I'm looking forward to those few this year that I'm going to be racing at.
Q: You talked a few minutes ago about racing in Arizona, your current home. But you'll also be back in your home state in Joliet in three weeks. Curious, what kind of distractions do you run into and how do you deal with racing in front of family and old friends from Illinois?
DANICA PATRICK: Yeah, I shouldn't forget Chicago. I look forward to it. I love the city of Chicago. It's such a great city. I was just there last week for a couple of days.
And it's a great place. And I think that my family and my friends, I'm sure there will be extras there, because it's close. But I have great friends, great family, and they come see me in lots of different places.
So I keep my life as simple as possible at the racetrack on those kinds of weekends, and everybody -- everybody's warned beforehand, usually not even by me but my husband or someone who says look nothing's going to happen during the race weekend but we'll see you after or maybe not, depends on how the race goes. Everyone's always really respectful.
And my number one priority is to go out there and perform on the racetrack. And that doesn't leave me a lot of extra time to entertain. So unfortunately they won't get necessarily that entertained by me but they will when they watch the race, and that's why they're there.
Q: Can you talk about -- I guess the learning curve, and the difference between being out there and testing on your own versus being able to go out there with other drivers. Because I remember in Vegas it seemed when Kevin Harvick passed you, you were able to keep up with him. Seemed like you were out there learning based on what he was doing. Can you talk about those two differences?
DANICA PATRICK: You know, when you are testing, you are by yourself. Gives you a chance to not have to be looking in your mirror, doing all those kinds of things to see where people are and maneuvering around other cars. So it really does allow you the chance to be able to feel the car and feel changes and testing for me is really important at this point, because I'm so new.
But it's really, when you get out there in the race is really when you learn the most. You're forced to learn. You're forced to get out there and go. Something as cool as like what Kevin did at Vegas was just, you know, I mean it's stuff like that that you can't get when you're testing by yourself.
So the racing is really where you learn. Unfortunately, I'm going to have to learn in front of everybody all year and the year after. But it's the best place to do it.
Q: I wanted to ask you if you could give us some specifics on how much testing you have been able to do since the last time you were in a stock car, and if you can just explain maybe -- I'm assuming the comfort level is a lot better for you this time getting in than it was back in the spring.
DANICA PATRICK: Yeah, simple things like the car fits and the belts and the seat and the pedals, and all that stuff is no issue. And you just get in and you go.
You know, we tested at Milwaukee, and it gave me a good head start on Loudon to be able to get familiar with a car on a track that's similar. So I ran there. And hopefully it's prepared me. I'm sure Loudon will still be a little bit different. But it's good to get familiar again, and it also gives a direction to what kind of setup I like on the car and that kind of a track.
Q: I wanted to kind of build on the prior question about Chicago. I know Chicagoland Speedway is a track you're also pretty familiar with. And seems like you ran pretty well there. You were on the pole one year and had a couple of top 10s. Will the familiarity, combined with the good runs you've had there, do you think that will benefit you when you come to Chicagoland Speedway?
DANICA PATRICK: As I mentioned, it's always quite different in a stock car. Look, I don't think there's any way that being familiar with the track can hurt me. But it's really about me learning what it takes for me in a stock car to be happy on the track, to be comfortable, to get the most out of myself.
So as you see in IndyCar, sometimes it's a good week and sometimes it's a bad week. And I'm not a different driver from one to the other. But the car does change. The car suited for the track is always changing, too, and sometimes you miss it and sometimes you don't.
So I think that that's really ultimately the most important thing, is that the car is set up well for me at the track. And it's also about me learning what that means. And I think that there's probably a little bit more compromising in a stock car, because the car, the tires go off of it quicker and the car slides around a little bit more. And there's nothing inside of the cockpit as far as adjustments you can make to chase the car and help it out. Where, in IndyCar, there's a few things we can do inside of the cockpit to help with the handling.
So I think that's really what it comes down to is being the most important thing. But familiarity is always nice, because it's just one less thing to worry about.
Q: Danica, based on the economy, maybe other factors, attendance isn't always the best at Nationwide races. How interested are you to see what kind of difference you might make racing in these Nationwide races? Do you feel a little bit of responsibility that you'll be the drawing card for these remaining races?
DANICA PATRICK: No, I don't feel responsibility. I'm just a driver out there that's getting an opportunity. And I'm going out there and getting experience and trying to do well at the end of the day. So I don't feel any responsibility.
I feel lucky that I have so many fans. And I feel lucky that people follow me. And I heard that ticket sales were up like 30% or something like that at Loudon for the Nationwide race or for something. So I know that the ratings were up in the races I was in at the start of the year. That's great.
Really, that comes down to the sponsors doing a great job of publicizing that and advertising and the media outlets to let everyone know that I'm going to be there. But, really, I am just really lucky as an athlete that people are curious how I'm doing and want to see. So I just do my best to put on a show and hopefully it's something that gives people a reason to smile and cheer, and if I do that, then I'm doing my job.
Q: How are you finding this season? At Indy, before you started to turn your season around over in the Indy cars, you said it was tougher than you thought. But we're heading into the summer and you're in a race car almost every weekend. How are you finding it?
DANICA PATRICK: It's definitely more busy. I do find myself to be in a car more often than anything else, which is a nice kind of busy as opposed to spending all my time flying around doing autograph sessions or photo shoots or commercials or something like that.
I definitely am in a car a lot. And that's the best thing for me. Really, it's just about managing that part of my life to make sure that I get a maximum amount of rest when I have a day off or two. And trying to always stay upbeat and in a good mood and stay positive and look at the positives because when you're going, going, going sometimes it's a little easy to get a little negative and it's important to look at the good things. And I'm really fortunate that I get to do all of this and race this many races.
So I feel lucky, and I'm going to keep that attitude and keep on going.
Q: You have obviously had three pretty good top 10 finishes going into New Hampshire. But the No. 7 team seems to have picked up the pace a little by having a top 10 finish at Road America. Does it make you feel better knowing that the team's going to have that confidence this week in Loudon?
DANICA PATRICK: Well, I think it's great for the car to be earning those points and keeping us in a good position to always be qualifying. And it's cool that the team's done that and kept the car going.
I'm sure that the guys are upbeat about having a good weekend. I know they've had a tough year. I know there's been a bit of damage and a lot of drivers shuffling around in the car. So I know they're a little tired. But hopefully we can come away from Loudon with no dents and a good result and more points for the Go Daddy 7 car.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.