Patrick is ready to ride the Kansas Speedway 'roller coaster'
Kansas Speedway in Kansas City has been a roller coaster of emotion for Danica Patrick in her career.
In 2005, she won her first of three pole positions in the IndyCar Series and finished 11th or better in all but one start. She qualified third in 2008 and 2009 and finished fifth the latter year.
Her move to the NASCAR Nationwide Series produced solid results as she qualified 15th and finished 15th in 2011 and then started 13th and finished 10th one year later.
But Patrick’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career has been a bit of a struggle at the 1.5-mile oval, including last fall’s race when she got loose and crashed in turn one – on the first lap.
Her best finished was 25th last spring, so she’s hoping she can improve on that in Saturday night’s 5-hour Energy 400 Sprint Cup race at Kansas. One thing that will be different is the race will take place at night for the first time.
Patrick is hoping to carry momentum to Kansas from Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, where Sunday she led six laps in the Aaron’s 499, becoming the first woman to lead at the 2.66-mile superspeedway.
She finished 22nd at Talladega after overheating issues caused her to fall back a bit, but the car remained in one piece and will most likely be used again soon.
But now, the attention is to Kansas and she is hoping that her good run at Talladega will lead to a good finish Saturday night.
Patrick is hoping to become the first woman to lead at Kansas – and bring home a good result.
Here are her thoughts on Kansas and Talladega:
Q: Overall thoughts on Kansas?
Patrick: “I’m looking forward to it. Hopefully, we can get a good finish there. Our results in Sprint Cup haven’t been great, so hopefully we can turn it around and get some good finishes. Our Nationwide and IndyCar results we’re pretty good, so we need to get the Cup program up there. It’s a night race, so hopefully it’s pretty interesting and good for the fans.”
Q: You led laps at Talladega last weekend. Talk about that.
Patrick: “It was good out front. I wish I could have stayed there. We had heating issues. I (the car) was getting hot a lot. I think you saw that from a lot of cars. It was a hot day there in Talladega. When you get back a little bit in the field, it gets even worse. I think I was the second back in the second lane really early on and it just felt like it kind of died a little bit. Then I started getting passed. So I dropped back to get some clean air. Got some track position a couple of times and got up there a little bit, but heating was definitely an issue. It really limited me to the bottom lane because, as soon as it jumped up, it went there. It was a good car in the lead, which is something that as a team we struggled with. I felt good about that. It was good to get the GoDaddy car to lead some laps because it had been a while and we missed a lot of accidents. The good news is this car is going to get to go to Daytona. That is a positive. The result was not necessarily too much of a positive, but it got rolled up onto the truck, so that is more than a lot of people can say coming from a speedway.”
Q: This is your third Sprint Cup start at Kansas. What are your thoughts on this weekend’s race?
Patrick: “I’ve always liked going to Kansas. It’s a nice facility and I’ve got a lot of experience there compared to some places, even if a lot of it is in IndyCar. I think our 1.5-mile program is better than it was last year, so I feel good going into this week. It’s a two-day show, but I feel like I’ve got a lot of experience there to get going.”