2013 Sprint Cup Series Schedule
2013 Sprint Cup Race Stats
2013 Nationwide Race Stats
2013 Snippets
2013 News

2013 Snippets

Danica started 30th at Pocono and finished 29th of 43 cars.

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Danica had to change engines again and so started Charlotte at the back of the pack after qualifying 24th in a 43-car field and finished 29th


Danica clipped the wall in practice and was forced to use a back-up car plus being moved back in the pack to start 40th. She moved up at Darlington to the 28th spot by the end, finishing 362 or 367 laps.

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Danica had moved up from 26th at Talladega to 12th by the 182 lap, got mixed up in a multicar accident and ended the day in 33rd. Bummer. Two races, two accidents, neither her fault.

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After starting from the fourth position in the Nationwide race at Talladega, Danica Patrick was spun out on the 13th lap by drafting partner Kyle Larson, causing the first caution of the race and effectively ending Patrick’s day.

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Danica gridded 25th at Kansas and was still running at the end finishing 25th.

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Danica was gridded 32nd at Barber until she blew an engine in practice and was moved back to 43rd at the start. She worked her way up to the 14th slot by the finish, ending 500 laps on the lead lap.

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Danica started in 41st place at Bristol and finished in 28th, 5 laps down.

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Danica started in 40th place at Phoenix and finished on lap 185 while in 26th palce with a blown tire. Final place was 39th.

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Danica will start in 40th place at Phoenix.

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Danica broke several records at the Daytona 500. First woman to start on the pole of a Cup race. First woman to lead a green lap. First woman to lead 5 green laps. (Janet Guthrie led 5 laps at Ontario in 1977 but all five were under the yellow - caution.) Highest finish for a woman in Cup racing - 8th.

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Danica adds Daytona Nationwide Race to Docket and grids 26th. She exited the race and headed to the garage 31 laps in after her No. 34 GoDaddy Chevrolet lost power

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Danica adds Daytona Nationwide Race to Docket

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Danica Patrick divorcing husband after 7 years of marriage.

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Patrick becomes the first woman to win Cup Pole


2013 News

Danica Patrick tops celebrities in generating social media buzz for sponsor Go Daddy

Why does sponsor Go Daddy love Danica Patrick so much?

Because she’s so popular and media savvy that she can use social media to generate buzz about her sponsors.

The social media marketing company Synthesio just released rankings of celebrity endorsers and the role they play in the brand’s social media buzz.

In a season when she hasn’t performed all that well on the track, Patrick is performing exceptionally well off the track. Patrick is at the top of the social media rankings, which were compiled by taking the number of mentions of the brand and the celebrity in the same tweet and dividing it by the total number of mentions of the brand over a 30-day period.

Patrick, who has more than 916,000 twitter followers, generated 12.72 percent of the social media buzz for Go Daddy, according to the Synthesio blog on its website.

A rookie in the Sprint Cup Series, Patrick is just 28th in the Cup standings and has made as many headlines this season for her relationship with boyfriend and fellow driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. as for her performance on the track. But she generates plenty of exposure for Go Daddy by slipping in references to the brand in her tweets.

Among the celebrities tracked, Rihanna was next in generating 3.19 percent of the buzz for Cover Girl and the Miami Heat’s LeBron James produced 1.73 percent of the overall buzz for Nike. The only other celebrity over 1 percent was actor Alec Baldwin at 1.36 percent of buzz for Capital One.

Loïc Moisand, co-founder and CEO of Synthesio, told USA Today that it’s useless for companies to be spend money on celebrities to raise social media awareness — unless it’s Danica.

Moisand says Patrick is successful because she frequently mentions GoDaddy in tweets from her personal handle and because "she appears reachable."

"The best social media isn't scripted," Barb Rechterman, chief marketing officer at GoDaddy, told USA Today. "Danica's the real deal."
Source: www.sportingnews.com/nascar/story/2013-06-10/danica-patrick-sponsor-go-daddy-tweets-twitter-social-media-boyfriend-ricky-sten?icid=maing-grid7%7Chtmlws-main-bb%7Cdl34%7Csec3_lnk1%26pLid%3D327217

Danica Patrick not optimistic about Coca-Cola 600 after recent struggles

Danica Patrick would like to think that running the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway last year would help her as she enters NASCAR’s longest event a year later.

But Patrick looks at her results this season and knows that it really doesn’t mean much that her third career Cup start came at Charlotte.

At the six tracks where she has raced a Sprint Cup car this year and last year, she had a significantly better finish only in the Daytona 500. She opened the season on a high note, placing eighth in the Daytona 500 for the best ever finish for a female driver in that event.

Her only other promising finish this year was 12th at Martinsville, where she had never raced. The rest of her finishes have been 25th or worse and she is 28th in the Cup standings. She is also trailing the rookie race to boyfriend Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who has finished in the top 20 in nine of his 11 races and is 16th in the standings.

“Essentially, I had better results in my Cup races last year than I have had this year other than Martinsville and Daytona,” Patrick said. “So we have had a couple of really good highs, but the rest of them have been not so good at all.”

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. She ran 10 Cup races for Stewart-Haas Racing last year so she would have a good foundation, especially at the tougher tracks, for her rookie season.

After Daytona, she struggled and wrecked to finish 39th at Phoenix after running 17th there last November. At Bristol, she finished 28th after running well last year before being wrecked and placing 29th.

Then came Texas, where she finished 28th this year after a 24th-place finish last November.

At Kansas and Darlington, she struggled this year just as she did last year, finishing several laps down and outside the top 20.

If there’s any consolation, SHR as a whole has struggled this year, with owner/driver Tony Stewart 21st in the standings with just one top-10 finish.

“I don’t think I unlearned things from last year, it’s just a matter of getting the car to a place where it does what we all want it to do as drivers on the team,” Patrick said. “I feel comfortable (at Charlotte). There is a lot of stuff I don’t worry so much about and I can just get in the car and go.

“But things I am more familiar with are looking at a tire sheet, or understanding what happens to a car in the corner and being able to translate to (crew chief) Tony Gibson.”

Patrick finished ninth in the Sprint Showdown last week and got the fan vote to make it into the Sprint All-Star Race. She finished 20th among 22 driver — last among those who finished the race — though she stayed with the pack and raced the drivers running at the rear.

“It really all comes to being comfortable with the car that you have underneath you to be able to go do the job you need to do,” Patrick said.

She hopes she leaves Charlotte this weekend better than last week.

“It really just makes me feel bad to win the Sprint fan vote and run in the back of the race. … It was just a tough night,” Patrick said.

“But hopefully we are able to figure out what was wrong and we can come back here (this) weekend and have a better run.”
Source: www.sportingnews.com/nascar/story/2013-05-22/danica-patrick-charlotte-coca-cola-600-struggles-boyfriend-ricky-stenhouse-jr?icid=maing-grid10%7Chtmlws-main-bb%7Cdl16%7Csec3_lnk3%26pLid%3D317137

Danica Patrick starting to attract boos from NASCAR fans as on-track struggles mount

Danica Patrick seemingly has the world at her feet.

She’s not only one of the most popular racecar drivers in the world, she’s one of the most popular athletes.

She drives in NASCAR’s top series, and for one of its top teams. She has huge backing from a clever sponsor that has helped make her an international celebrity.

She’s built a loyal following among NASCAR fans, gets tons of media exposure and is dating another Sprint Cup driver — which only adds to the spotlight and drama surrounding her whirlwind career and soap-opera life.

Yet Patrick suddenly has a big problem.

One that threatens to damage all that is right in her life and career.

NASCAR’s Wonder Woman and media darling is starting to get booed.

That’s right — booed.

Not Kyle Busch booed, but a sprinkling of derision here and there. Just enough hisses and taunts to matter and become a big concern.

Patrick, who made a name for herself in IndyCar racing before moving to stock cars, became an immediate fan favorite in NASCAR.

Her popularity soared when she moved to the Sprint Cup Series this season, with some even predicting that she might challenge Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s 10-year lock on the sport’s most popular driver award.

She is one of the sport’s biggest attractions and typically receives a huge ovation before each race. But when she was introduced prior to Saturday’s Sprint All-Star Race, there was a noticeable rumbling of boos.

It wasn’t overwhelming — she was still cheered more than booed — but it was enough to attract attention and raise a few eyebrows.

What’s more, the smattering of discontent quickly caught fire on Twitter, with fans expressing outrage that she was voted into the all-star race.

The message was clear: Many fans believe that Patrick did not deserve to be in NASCAR’s all-star race — which typically is reserved for race winners and the most accomplished drivers — and resent the fact that she got in through the Sprint Fan Vote.

Her not-so-surprising victory in the fan vote created a perplexing dilemma for Patrick. On the one hand, she made the all-star race because she is wildly popular and because her large fan base went all out to vote for her. Yet, on the other hand, Patrick wound up being in the all-star race despite a dismal record on the track, providing more ammunition for critics and detractors that already resent her.

Though she started the season with a bang, winning the pole for the Daytona 500 and contending for the win before finishing eighth, she has struggled badly since then.

Aside from an impressive 12th-place run at Martinsville, Patrick has finished 25th or worse in her other nine races and has finished on the lead lap just twice all season. In 21 career Cup starts, she has just one top-10 finish and has finished 24th or worse 18 times, including just three lead-lap finishes.

So except for two surprising performances, Patrick has been mostly dreadful.

And therein lies the rub. Because of her struggles on the track, many fans resent Patrick’s popularity and star power. Being voted into the all-star race was a slap in the face to fans that believe the race should be reserved for the sport’s best drivers.

And she didn’t exactly prove them wrong, finishing 20th among 22 drivers and last among those who finished the race.

Patrick is a media star and fan favorite for obvious reasons:

  • She’s a woman competing in a man’s world.
  • She’s a pretty woman competing in a man’s world.
  • She’s a sex symbol and worldwide celebrity, her racy commercials and supermodel photo spreads capturing the imagination of both sports fans and casual observers.
  • She appeals to two critical demographics — female fans and kids.

Because of all that, Patrick is a novelty and a curiosity. And that makes her one of the biggest draws in sports — regardless of how she does on the track. In fact, her marketing prowess is remarkable.

According to The Marketing Arm’s Davie Brown Index, which tracks such things, Patrick leads all NASCAR drivers in several important marketing and popularity categories.

According to the firm, she is NASCAR’s best-known driver, the most likeable, the most influential and the best product spokesperson.

She tops stars Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in each of those categories.

That is pretty powerful stuff when gauging an athlete’s engagement and popularity with both sponsors and fans.

Fans wonder all the time why Patrick gets so much media coverage on TV and online. Well, there you have your answer.

Like it or not, many fans want to see, hear and read about Patrick, and that is proven everyday through web traffic and TV ratings.

Yet the question Patrick and her team of handlers and marketing experts must face is this: What happens to that popularity and marketing prowess if she continues to struggle on the track?

How long can she continue to live off her off-track accomplishments and celebrity?

Clearly, fans are starting to grumble and there is a groundswell of critics and detractors who believe she does not belong in NASCAR’s top series and doesn’t deserve all that she has, including a lucrative ride at Stewart-Haas Racing.

So far, most fans have been willing to overlook the on-track struggles and give her more time to adjust to the challenges and rigors of stock-car racing.

But Saturday’s turn in fan support might be a sign that time is running out, that perhaps Patrick is starting to wear out her welcome with patient fans.

She’s still a mega star by most indicators. The numbers and attention and sponsors and fan response bear that out.

But she’s coming up short in one major category — on-track success.

How long before those failures trump everything else and diminish her status in all the other categories?

If Patrick doesn’t improve her on-track performance and produce results soon, she risks losing all the intangibles that make her a big star.

And that’s a lot to lose.

Danica Patrick wins Sprint Fan vote to advance to All-Star race

Danica Patrick advanced to the Sprint All-Star Race fair and square Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

She didn’t finish in the top two in the Sprint Showdown qualifying race, but at least she didn’t need what was dubbed the “Danica Rule” as she finished on the lead lap in ninth and then advanced to the main event Saturday night thanks to the online fan voting.

“Obviously first and very foremost thank you to all the fans who voted for me or voted so many times for me,” Patrick said.

“I’m fortunate to have the fan base that I do and I never forget that. … It’s a big honor.”

In February, NASCAR announced that a driver would have to finish on the lead lap to advance with the fan vote. Then earlier this week, NASCAR said that was a mistake, that no lead-lap finish was required but the car did have to be in raceable condition.

That made fans dub it the “Danica Rule” considering some of her struggles this year.

In reality, very few drivers finish the Sprint Showdown a lap down if they are still running at the end of the event.

Patrick was easily able to stay on the lead lap. She said she wasn’t going to try anything desperate in the Showdown knowing that her fans are quite passionate.

She even had a “Thanks Fans” sticker to put on her car.

“I’m going to race for the fans tonight,” she said. “I got done with that race and honestly I feel really fired up.

“I wanted to make passes and make my way up and do what I could to get into those first two positions and didn’t do that. I feel like I owe it to them to put on a better show in the all-star race.”

Those among the top-five in the vote but not winning, in alphabetical order, were Jeff Burton, Bobby Labonte, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Martin Truex Jr.

Stenhouse advanced to the main event by finishing second in the Showdown.
Source: www.sportingnews.com/nascar/story/2013-05-18/danica-patrick-sprint-fan-vote-all-star-race-charlotte-nacar-fans

Patrick has come a long way over the course of the past year

Danica Patrick was prepared for the worst. She came to Darlington Raceway a year ago for her first genuine Sprint Cup race weekend, her splashy debut in the Daytona 500 months in the rearview mirror, and bracing for what she thought would be the Friday from hell. With good reason, given that at the time she was also running in the Nationwide Series, and her schedule had her jumping between race cars from early morning until late at night.

It could have been the beginning of her NASCAR journey in microcosm, an often-trying experience punctuated by moments of promise. That was certainly the case here a year ago, when she finished 12th in the Nationwide event and was running competitive times in the Southern 500 despite being laps down to the leaders. A season later, much has changed, personally and professionally, but the challenge remains the same -- as evidenced by a collision with the Turn 2 wall Friday that forced her to a backup car.

Daytona, where she was introduced to the Sprint Cup Series a year ago and won the pole earlier this season, will always be as closely identified with Patrick as her bright green firesuit. But Darlington is where the grunt work began in earnest, the cornerstone of a brutal indoctrination designed by car owner Tony Stewart, who wanted to put her through the crucible early in the hopes of making everything seem easier later on.

Talk about adjustments. Sitting on the couch of her motorhome, Patrick ticks off the challenges of that first trip through the grinder. There was the goal of just being respectable on the race track, of not being in other drivers’ way. And going from the shorter Nationwide events -- which from a time perspective more closely mirrored what she had been accustomed to in IndyCar -- to a four-hour marathon at Darlington was a wake-up call.

“When you go from a 147-lap race to a 367-lap race, I was like, ‘Huh?’ I think my mind was a little bit distracted by going over 200 laps more than the night before,” she said. “… All of the sudden you come to Cup, and things are like twice as long. It’s a big adjustment, at least in your head. Now, I’m fine. I’ve kind of wrapped my head around it better and feel more comfortable, and have a better feel for things.”

There’s no question, one year later, Patrick is more comfortable in the NASCAR arena -- it’s evident in things like her body language, and the ease with which she talks about boyfriend and fellow Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Back in Darlington, she’s clearly more relaxed. “But that doesn’t mean I’m not a little worried,” she said a few hours before earning a Darlington stripe dark enough to park her primary car.

“It’s a challenging track, and when the car doesn’t feel right, challenging tracks get really, really challenging,” she added. “It still very much matters what the car feels like, and that very much dictates your weekend. ... You just get to a comfort transition of where you know you’re OK all the time, and it’s just a matter of trying to be great. I’m not there yet.”

At Darlington and elsewhere, the journey continues. Patrick’s first full Sprint Cup season has had its share of taxing moments, and the cumulative effect is a 27th-place standing in points. No question, she has progress still to make in qualifying. She’s trying to maintain speed in her car throughout the course of an event. Like the other members of her Stewart-Haas Racing team, she’s playing catch-up on the development of the new Generation-6 car. And she and crew chief Tony Gibson continue to search for ways to make her more comfortable behind the wheel.

“As a team we need to improve, and Gibson and I just need to figure out what makes me happy when I’m out there, and what makes me comfortable, and unload closer and quicker every weekend so that we can just have better weekends,” she said. “There’s not a lot of time to move mountains around here. What you arrive with is generally what you arrive with. Every now and again, and it happens every other weekend or so, maybe you have one good change to start practice, and you’re like, ‘That’s it!’ … But that doesn’t happen every time, and sometimes you learn things you don’t want to do.”

So much of it is a work in progress. Patrick said she’s still unsure of what her strengths and weaknesses are, still learning. She and Gibson tested for two days earlier this week at Nashville, have more tests coming up at Dover, at Pocono and Virginia International Raceway. The goal is to make the No. 10 a top-20 car, which is where Patrick feels it needs to be.

“I feel like that’s where we were last year, almost,” she said. “And we’re not there right now sometimes because we just have this new car and don’t have a good grasp on the balance that I need. Sometimes it’s been luck. … At least result-wise, there’s lots of times that we should have been better off than we are, but that’s the name of the game. Consistency is the hardest thing, because here are so many things. So many cars, and so many variables.”

That much was on display last week at Talladega, when Patrick’s attempt to build on her restrictor-plate success from Daytona was thwarted by a 12-car crash. But if there’s anything for her to hang her helmet on thus far in her NASCAR education, it may be an interesting by-product of the rigorous introductory schedule Stewart set up for her. Patrick has enjoyed some of her better moments on some of the sport’s more difficult tracks, a pattern repeated in her 12th-place run on her first visit to Martinsville earlier this year.

She was en route to a potential top-20 finish at Bristol before being caught up in a crash, and her clean Nationwide race last year at Darlington raised eyebrows. Asked about her penchant for exceeding expectations when they’re at their lowest, Patrick laughs. Yes, she’s noticed.

“I don’t know why that is. I think that I tend to thrive in high-pressure situations,” said a former open-wheel driver who was often at her best in the Indianapolis 500. “I have no idea what it does to me. I wish I knew. I wish I could recreate it every weekend. But I don’t know if it has to do with more questions, more attention, more tension from me. I don’t know. I’m not really sure. But it does seem to happen.”

Whatever it is, she could have used a little of it Friday, when she hit the wall on sticker tires in practice, and then qualified 40th in her backup car. But those professional headaches seem offset by the giddiness Patrick exudes over her personal life, and a relationship with the always-on-the-go Stenhouse that’s added plenty of new twists to her daily routine. She still works out, still cooks what she wants, still enjoys her wine. But so much else has changed.

“Now I go shooting clays at Kansas, or I go play golf one night. Or we go hang out with parents in the bus lot, or I’m sleeping over in that bus or this bus. There’s much less of a routine,” she said. “But that’s fine for me. I think that it’s all about kind of being happy and having fun, especially with how big the season is and how long it is. It’s fun sometimes when we get away from the track. It really feels like I’m not racing right then. It feels like I’m out doing an activity and I don’t feel like I’m on a race weekend. … I’m not used to doing that, when it really feels like you get away. It’s nice to break up the weekend sometimes like that, because this is such a familiar environment.”

She just needed a push -- before Stenhouse, she admitted, she wouldn’t have even thought of getting away from the track and doing things like horsing around on a driving range. Now, she thrives on it. No, Danica Patrick’s performance in the race car isn’t quite where she wants it to be. But as the Month of May begins in that other series she used to drive in, it’s clear she’s never been more comfortable in NASCAR. So much has changed since that first hectic Friday at Darlington Raceway, one long season ago.

“You just kind of adapt and try not to think too much,” she said. “Try not to take things too seriously. Try not to worry so much. Just get on with life.
Source: www.nascar.com/en_us/news-media/articles/2013/05/10/darlington-marks-danica-patricks-season-of-change.html

Danica Patrick wrecks early at Talladega, finishes 39th out of 40 cars

Danica Patrick had an early exit from the Nationwide Series race Saturday but she couldn’t really be mad at rookie teammate Kyle Larson as she stood next to her mangled car in the Talladega Superspeedway garage.

Larson turned Patrick on lap 14 of the Aaron’s 312, ending her day as she hit the wall and skidded in the wet tri-oval grass. She finished 39th out of the 40 cars. Regan Smith won the crash-filled race that was delayed by rain.

The Turner Scott Motorsports drivers were in a two-car tandem draft, and Larson, pushing Patrick, was trying to move the nose of his car to get some air through his grille when he turned her.

“Kyle is a great driver,” Patrick said. “I’ve seen him do things I haven’t done yet in a stock car. I know he is very good.

“That was probably just not understanding the draft completely and how the cars work when you hook up together.”
Source: aol.sportingnews.com/nascar/story/2013-05-04/danica-patrick-nationwide-series-race-aarons-312-kyle-larson-nascar-talladega?modid=recommended_1_5

Patrick confident in return to plate racing, hopes to build off Daytona run

They brought it to the wind tunnel once to check the aerodynamic numbers, cleaned it up and loaded it into the transporter. The No. 10 car Danica Patrick will drive at Talladega Superspeedway is the same one in which she made so much history in the Daytona 500 -- and this weekend will determine whether she experiences the same degree of success on the track.

Talladega brings the first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series restrictor-plate race since Speedweeks, where Patrick dominated headlines by becoming the first woman to win the pole for NASCAR’s biggest race. She backed that up with an eighth-place finish, the best ever for a female driver in the event, generating an electricity that jump-started both the NASCAR season and her first full-time campaign on the sport’s premier circuit.

The weeks since have been more arduous, to say the least. Other than Daytona, Patrick’s only other lead-lap finish this season was a surprising 12th at Martinsville Speedway on her first visit to the short track. But Talladega brings another race at the kind of big, fast restrictor-plate track on which Patrick historically excels, and another opportunity to recapture the magic from Daytona.

“I suppose it’s fair to say that there should be a little spike in expectation, but you also have to take into consideration on these big speedways that there is a whole lot of luck that comes into it,” Patrick said. “Everything has got to be clean. The stops have to be good. You have to stay in the pack, no issues, not getting caught up in an accident. From what I remember last year even at Talladega it was more of a pack race than Daytona, even. … Obviously, this is a wider track than Daytona, so when we start getting four-wide, that is when stuff starts to get a little exciting. We will just have to hope that we are in the right place at the right time.”

No question, the degree of unpredictability at Talladega exceeds even that at Daytona, where Patrick took the white flag in third position and ended up eighth after winner Jimmie Johnson and runner-up Dale Earnhardt Jr. made big moves to the front. But it can’t hurt to have the same car, which turned the third-fastest pole speed of the restrictor-plate era at Daytona, and emerged from the 500 with barely a scratch. Crew chief Tony Gibson said the No. 10 team took it to the wind tunnel once, wiped it clean and put it in the truck bound for north Alabama.

“You never think your car is going to survive on a speedway. So going into Daytona, that was not the plan,” Gibson said. “Obviously, the plan was to win at Daytona and leave it there. After we got back home, we didn’t have any damage on it. It was clean. We knew it was fast, had speed. So we decided to bring it back here, which is a good thing. When you can survive restrictor-plate races and bring back your car, that’s a good thing. But after Daytona we got home, and decided we’d bring it back here.”

It’s not completely the same -- Gibson said internal parts like the engine, gears and transmission are different, and you never know if they’re going to perform as flawlessly as they did in Daytona. But he knows the vehicle has speed, and feels like Patrick can contend for the pole here just as she did in the 500, weather permitting. Qualifying is set for Saturday, when there’s also a heavy chance of rain in the area, which means the starting lineup could be set by opening practice speeds from Friday afternoon.

But not even a gloomy forecast can darken the confidence the No. 10 team, which sees this weekend as its best opportunity to contend since Daytona. “Absolutely. You look at places where we can shine at, with our early stages of this team. You look at places like here,” Gibson said.

“Martinsville was a shocker to all of us. We’ve always had good cars there, but her not ever seeing the place before, that was quite a shocker to run that good. So the momentum from Daytona carries us a long way. … We carry that momentum everywhere we go, but more so from Daytona to these restrictor-plate races. She does a really good job of that. I think it fits her wheelhouse as far as finesse. She thinks things through. So I think all of it brings momentum for us to this place. And bringing this car back, that ran so good at Daytona -- it’s a confidence-booster, at least coming in here.”

Patrick showed that much Friday, qualifying fourth for a NASCAR Nationwide Series event she’ll run for Turner Scott Motorsports. Clearly her driving style best fits plate tracks, which most closely resemble the big, flat-out circuits like Texas and Indianapolis that she thrived on during her open-wheel career.

“I don’t know if the confidence level shifts a tremendous amount as much as the comfort level does,” said Patrick, who owns the best finish at NASCAR’s level by a woman, fourth in a Nationwide race at Las Vegas in 2011. “It’s just being comfortable on these big speedways and comfortable with this pack style racing that I was so used to in IndyCar on the ovals. Just having a feel for it. It is something that I probably caught on to quicker than anything in stock car racing. I guess I show up here and it’s just a little bit more comfortable.”

At Talladega, that comfort is easy to see. Gibson went turkey hunting earlier this week in Georgia, but came up empty because of wet weather and blustery winds. Now, he’s pursuing much bigger game -- a history-making first victory for Patrick, whose team has had Sunday’s race circled on the calendar ever since their driver’s impressive run at Daytona.

“All of our restrictor-plate races we look at as places where we can possibly win a race,” Gibson said. “Those are the ones we’ve circled for sure. We feel like our road racing stuff should be pretty decent. She seems to be a pretty good road racer, so we’ve got those circled. And hopefully we can go there and give her a car that can live up to her standards. But momentum is everything, man. I hope we’ll be able to qualify. … But I think our car has good speed in it, so we should be able to motivate come Sunday.”
Source: www.nascar.com/en_us/news-media/articles/2013/05/03/danica-patrick-sprint-cup-series-talladega.html

Danica Patrick divorce final, NASCAR star now a single woman

Join the conversation Text size A A A Danica Patrick, the highest-finishing female driver in the Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500, is now a single woman.

Now dating fellow Sprint Cup rookie Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Patrick is legally single as her divorce to Paul Hospenthal was finalized April 17th in the Superior Court of Arizona in Maricopa County.

Danica Patrick's divorce from husband Paul Hospenthal is finale. (AP Photo)A Stewart-Haas Racing spokesmen said Patrick would have no comment on the finalizing of her divorce.

“I'm not going to go into details about my private life all the time,” Patrick said in February when talking about her divorce and dating Stenhouse. “I understand there's a curiosity for it.

“To be honest, it's my life. … I'm just relaxed. I feel happy. I feel like I'm just enjoying my life. It makes me smile to talk about (Stenhouse).”

Patrick announced she would divorce Hospenthal in November and filed the initial paperwork Jan. 3. A judge signed the consent decree of dissolution of marriage April 15 and it was filed with the clerk of court two days later.

Arizona is a no-fault divorce state, requiring no reason for a divorce.

“The marriage is irretrievably broken and there is no reasonable prospect for reconciliation,” the divorce decree states in using the same words Patrick used in her initial filing.

Neither Patrick nor Hospenthal was represented by a lawyer in court.

“Provisions of this decree are fair and reasonable under the circumstances (and) the division of property and debt is fair and equitable,” the divorce decree states.

Some of those details are not part of the divorce file as Patrick and Hospenthal worked out a separate property settlement agreement that divides their property. Both signed it on April 11 and neither Patrick nor Hospenthal will have to pay alimony.

Patrick paid for all the mediation and court filing fees.

Patrick and Hospenthal entered a prenuptial agreement Nov. 11, 2005 — eight days before their marriage.

The couple had no children and there were no incidents of domestic violence, according to the filing.

Hospenthal, who is 17 years older than the 31-year-old Patrick, is a physical therapist and met Patrick while treating her for an injury.

“I am sad to inform my fans that after 7 years, Paul and I have decided to amicably end our marriage,” Patrick said in a Nov. 20 post on her Facebook page.

“This isn't easy for either of us, but mutually it has come to this. He has been an important person and friend in my life and that's how we will remain moving forward."

Patrick is 25th in the Sprint Cup standings. She became the first woman to win the pole for a NASCAR Cup race when she captured the top qualifying spot for the Daytona 500 in February.

She finished eighth in that race, the best for any woman. In 2009, she finished third in the Indianapolis 500, setting a new standard for female racers.
Source: aol.sportingnews.com/nascar/story/2013-04-25/danica-patrick-divorce-final-husband-paul-hospenthal-boyfriend-ricky-stenhouse-j?icid=maing-grid10%7Chtmlws-main-bb%7Cdl2%7Csec3_lnk1%26pLid%3D304103

Danica Patrick busier racing just Sprint Cup, and still learning

Even while she focuses on just one racing series, Danica Patrick has been busier this year as a Sprint Cup rookie.

The extra day each race weekend compared to the Nationwide Series and the additional testing days have increased her time at the racetrack.

Danica Patrick admits that she's been frustrated at times this season, but that comfort level and education is coming along in her Sprint Cup rookie campaign. (AP Photo)

After two seasons where she split her time between IndyCar and NASCAR, she competed in a full Nationwide Series season in 2012 along with 10 Cup races.

Now focused primarily on Cup—she has done just one Nationwide race this year—Patrick still finds herself busy.

The extra testing is necessary not only because she is a Cup rookie, but also because Patrick sits 26th in the standings. She has tested Daytona and Charlotte in NASCAR tests as well as at Little Rock and Nashville, tracks that don’t have NASCAR races.

Stewart-Haas Racing has not used any of its four official tests at Cup tracks but will use one in a couple of weeks at Dover. Those tests can be three-day tests and considering SHR’s struggles, they could use all the track time they can get.

“Testing has been a lot more than any other year I have ever raced,” Patrick said Wednesday. “There’s a lot on the schedule. … Anything I’m able to, (I go).

“I still have a lot of stuff to do outside the car. I’m finding myself much more busy this year than any other year just due to being at the track an extra day and testing on top of that and just full Cup obligations that need to be done. I definitely find myself more busy overall.”

Patrick was speaking at the one place where she is most comfortable. She was among nine drivers at a Goodyear tire test Tuesday and Wednesday at Daytona International Speedway.

Sitting on the pole (the first ever for a female in a Cup race) and finishing eighth in the Daytona 500, Patrick tested the same car she used at testing at the track in January. She is keeping her Daytona 500 car race-ready.

Beyond Daytona, though, has been a struggle. She has just one other finish better than 25th in seven starts this year.

“We’re lacking speed and comfort out there (as an organization),” Patrick said. “I don’t know if it’s the new car, if it’s the different tires, data we’re getting from other people, the sim (simulation) programs.”

Patrick said there is some frustration—“There’s a certain amount of healthy frustration that gets people motivated, to get people working”—but she has tried to keep from expressing too much bitterness regarding her struggles.

She figured it can’t help for her to just freak out over things; Patrick likes driving stock cars and has fun doing it while she strives to be competitive in a form of racing that still is a little foreign to her.

“Comfort level comes along and I’m still getting educated on the car and things that happen,” Patrick said. “I feel like I’m starting to speak the language a little bit better so my crew chief can understand what the car is doing much better and also just feeling it, and starting to identify the issues a little bit better.

“I’m 10 times smarter than when I started but I still have so much further to go.”

And she’s comfortable with the schedule. She had once said during her IndyCar days that 36 races a year would be too much.

Now she’s used to it and she likes the fact that she’s busy nearly every weekend.

“It’s been a good transition from IndyCar to NASCAR and just the schedule differences,” Patrick said. “It’s fine for me. Any more (than when) I spend a couple of days at home, I get bored.

“Going home is about getting my haircut and getting my facials and seeing my normal people. … You’ve got to go to the same person (for your hair). I went to someone different to get my hair done years ago and it looked like Neapolitan ice cream.”
Source: aol.sportingnews.com/nascar/story/2013-04-18/danica-patrick-sprint-cup-kansas-race-schedule-busy-daytona-500-pole

Danica Patrick remembers her last victory

Danica Patrick’s first reaction to hearing that this weekend marks the fifth anniversary of her lone IndyCar victory wasn’t one of what a great day that was in Japan.

As a competitor, her first thought was that she hasn’t won a race since then.

Danica Patrick says her last IndyCar victory five years ago was too long ago. (AP Photo)

“Oh, geez, is it really five years?” Patrick said Friday with a smile following Cup practice at Kansas Speedway.

“That makes me feel kind of bad. … Five years ago? Meh. It’s time to do it again.”

With the help of some fuel-mileage strategy, Patrick won on the Twin Ring Motegi oval in a race few in the United States watched as it ended in the wee hours of the morning April 20, 2008.

She ran another 65 races in the IndyCar Series without a win. Now a full-time NASCAR drivers, Patrick has 59 career Nationwide starts and 17 career Cup starts without a victory.

“There were a lot of years in IndyCar that were really strong and then there were some that weren’t — the ones that weren’t strong were towards the end,” Patrick said.

“Just like in this series, as it is in IndyCar, you need to have the right situation going on and you have to have a fast car.”

Getting a victory this weekend in the STP 400 is doubtful for Patrick, who has 17 career Cup starts.

She has only two top-25 finishes this season, due mostly to her inexperience as well as possibly some of the struggles of Stewart-Haas Racing.

Patrick scraped the wall in practice Friday morning and ranked 33rd. She said every time the team would make a change, it would fix the problem she was having but create another one.

“It’s just a matter of making the car comfortable enough. … The harder you go, the more things you unveil about the car,” Patrick said before getting a little bit sarcastic.

“It’s just a matter of going in deeper, losing less brake and getting on (the gas) harder. It’s that simple.”

Montegi had to seem a long, long time ago from practice Friday.

“It’s still a happy memory,” she said. “It’s still my one win in IndyCar. It was a long time ago. It was a good feeling, and I’d like to get that feeling back.”
Source: aol.sportingnews.com/nascar/story/2013-04-19/danica-patrick-practice-kansas-indycar-win-montegi-japan

Stewart-Haas driver blows an engine during Saturday's practice

The steep climb that Danica Patrick faces Sunday at Martinsville Speedway just got that much steeper.

Stewart-Haas Racing officials said that the team will change engines in the No. 10 Chevrolet ahead of Sunday's STP Gas Booster 500. Patrick, who was scheduled to start 32nd after Friday's qualifying, will now drop to the rear of the field before the green flag falls on the sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race of the season.

Patrick had improved in Saturday's practice, ranking 29th on the speed chart in the first morning session then 22nd in final practice.

Unfortunately for Patrick, she's no stranger to starting from the back of the pack. Since claiming a historic pole position for the season-opening Daytona 500, the rookie's starting spots have been 40th, 37th, 41st and 40th in the last four races.

Patrick will be making her first start Sunday at the .526-mile track, one of NASCAR's trickiest circuits.
Source: www.nascar.com/en_us/news-media/articles/2013/04/06/danica-drops-to-rear-of-pack-for-sundays-race.html

Danica Patrick an enigma, NASCAR's most unpredictable driver

In trying to predict who might have been a surprise to win for the first time Sunday at Martinsville Speedway, Clint Bowyer was an easy choice.

There was only one problem with that theory.

Jimmie Johnson was still in the lineup. And as Bowyer pointed out, “turns out he's pretty good here.”

Johnson won for the eighth time at the track, the most among active drivers and an unprecedented mark for one track in the modern era.

It’s one head-scratching stat, Johnson’s eight wins in the last 18 Martinsville races.

The only thing that makes less sense? Danica Patrick finishing 12th in her first trip to the tough, half-mile track.

Danica the enigma

Patrick’s 12th-place finish was just another in a string of surprises in 2013.

Beyond Daytona, where she was expected to have a fast car, she has performed poorly at tracks where she was expected to be adequate and has performed well when all the signs pointed to her having a long day.

Her strong runs last year at Phoenix and Bristol did not translate into having a fast car and a good run there this year.

Her first-ever trip to Martinsville, where she was expected to struggle, turned into her best non-Daytona finish of her Cup career.

So was she just lucky? It’s hard to think anyone just gets lucky at Martinsville. It’s a technical track and for her to stay on the lead lap over the final 200 laps is a credit to her ability.

But what has been a pattern of not building on a strong performance when she returns to a track is a sign that she still is trying to figure out what she needs to be comfortable in the car.

Sometimes she finds it by the end of the race, like she did at Martinsville. The Stewart-Haas Racing team’s overall struggles haven’t helped as all three teams seem to be searching for answers.

Don’t expect Danica’s up-and-down performance to change much this year as she continues a steep learning curve. She will continue to be one of the most unpredictable drivers in the garage until she has a complete understanding of what she wants and what she needs at each track.

It will be frustrating for her. But it will keep the debate on whether she will ever be a success in NASCAR at the forefront.
Source: aol.sportingnews.com/nascar/story/2013-04-08/martinsville-race-results-danica-patrick-brian-vickers-mark-martin-denny-hamlin?modid=

Danica Patrick has some unfinished business at Bristol

Danica Patrick enjoyed her first 434 laps of Sprint Cup racing at Bristol Motor Speedway last year.

It was Lap 435 that kind of soured her on NASCAR’s fastest short track

Now she heads back to Bristol Motor Speedway as a full-time Cup competitor for this weekend’s Food City 500.

After opening 2013 with a historic eighth-place finish in the Daytona 500, Patrick blew a tire and wrecked to finish 39th at Phoenix and then struggled in a 33rd-place performance last week at Las Vegas.

Patrick had a ninth-place finish in the Nationwide Series race at Bristol last August. Before that, she had finishes of 33rd and 19th.

“I’ve liked Bristol since the first time,” Patrick said last week. “For me, I respond to the banking, which translates to grip and it’s definitely there.

“We were having a decent run in the Cup car, we were lead lap and top 20 after 440 laps and, unfortunately, were taken out.”

Patrick showed some fire after the incident, angrily pointing her finger at Smith for wrecking her.

In her first full Cup season, Patrick hopes that her solid laps last year at Bristol give her a good baseline to begin practice with Friday in her Stewart-Haas Racing car.

“I think that all those events lead us to more potential the next time around with a better baseline setup,” Patrick said. “I feel like for us and for me, my strong suit is the race or at least at this point (it is).

“We just need to work on qualifying and get a decent qualifying spot so we can work from there.”

Like most rookies, it just takes time for Patrick to feel comfortable on the track.

“I feel like it’s not very common to drop back for me so if we can just start further up then we can continue to make progress and be smart and take care of our equipment,” she said.

“Whether you pass people at the beginning or pass them on the run, they are both passes.”

At 31st in owner points, Patrick should have no problem making the 43-car field as only one driver entered won’t make the race.

For her to miss the race, she would have to not make the top 36 in qualifying and have 11 of these 13 drivers (and possibly 12) be in the top 36 in qualifying: Ryan Newman, David Stremme, Travis Kvapil, Michael McDowell, Terry Labonte, David Gilliland, David Ragan, Scott Speed, Landon Cassill, Josh Wise, Joe Nemechek, Mike Bliss and Scott Riggs.

Patrick is looking forward to the challenge, especially after an encouraging performance last year.

“I look forward to going back there,” Patrick said. “I like the banked tracks. It was fun.”
Source: aol.sportingnews.com/nascar/story/2013-03-13/danica-patrick-bristol-race-2013-qualifying-standings-2012-wreck-regan-smith?icid=maing-grid10%7Chtmlws-main-bb%7Cdl2%7Csec3_lnk2%26pLid%3D283412

Danica Patrick hit in head with rock in Las Vegas, sore from Phoenix crash

Danica Patrick isn’t banking on luck to get her into the Sprint Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Considering what happened to her Thursday night, she might have good reason.

Patrick got hit in the head with a rock while attending a race at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Thursday night.

Patrick mentioned the incident Friday when asked about driver concussions. She deadpanned that she might have had a concussion from getting hit Thursday night.

“I got hit by a rock at the dirt track, and I took it to the ground,” Patrick said Friday morning at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. “It is really sore. It hit me straight in the head. Good thing I had a hat on or I’m feeling like there would be blood.”

Patrick likely would have to qualify in the top 36 Friday to make the Kobalt Tools 400 but would be locked into the race if it continues to rain throughout the day.

While confident that she can run well enough, if necessary, to qualify, Patrick also can’t be feeling very lucky this week.

Patrick already was recovering from a hard hit last Sunday when she blew a tire at Phoenix International Raceway, slammed into the outside wall and then had the sheet metal on the driver’s side of her car sheared off by David Ragan’s car.

“My neck was sore after last weekend for sure, which it’s never been sore before after a wreck,” Patrick said. “Either my training program is off or it was that big of a hit or maybe the fact that it was both sides.

“That’s something that you as a driver make those decisions and the safety crew helps you.”

The NASCAR medical staff, she said, checked on her on Monday to make sure she was feeling OK and was having no memory problems. She told them she had a headache Sunday night and then just a sore neck.

“I really felt fine,” Patrick said. “It was understandable that my neck would be sore. … It’s up to you to be honest about it (with NASCAR) and it’s your decision.

“You can say, ‘I’m fine,’ and go along your day and if you’re not, it’s your risk. They can’t read your mind. They can’t tell if you’re not well if you don’t tell them.”

While she is feeling OK physically, she also said she is in a good spot mentally despite qualifying 40th and crashing in the race.

While the Stewart-Haas Racing driver won the pole for the Daytona 500, she struggled in qualifying at Phoenix. She qualified 40th but because there were only 43 cars, she made the field.

If Mike Bliss and Scott Speed qualify in the top 36 at Las Vegas and Patrick doesn’t — as happened at Phoenix — Patrick would miss the race.

“You’ve got to go like hell and qualify as well as you can,” she said. “I don’t want to have to worry about that, so I’m not going to. We plan on being better than that.”

While teams only got 85 minutes of practice before qualifying at PIR, they got more than six hours of practice at Las Vegas Thursday with 90 minutes scheduled for Friday.

At least partly because of her precarious qualifying position, Patrick spent half of the session yesterday working on qualifying, much longer than most other teams.

“The reason for doing qualifying for the last half of yesterday was not only to try to do a good job for here but everywhere else we go because there’s a certain off-set that the car needs going from race to qualifying runs,” she said.

“I really hope that we don’t ever feel like we need to worry about that. Weekends like last weekend at Phoenix were definitely not good, but we feel like we quickly will get to grips with what we need to do.”
Source: aol.sportingnews.com/nascar/story/2013-03-08/danica-patrick-las-vegas-race-hit-with-rock-head-sore-phoenix-crash

Danica looking to Rebound at Vegas after Crash

Patrick shaken up at first after Subway Fresh Fit 500, but ready to race Sunday

LAS VEGAS -- Danica Patrick showed up for her press conference Friday morning at Las Vegas Motor Speedway sounding a bit groggy and complaining of a slight headache.

But the aches and pains aren’t a sign of some lingering problem from the hard crash she had last week in the Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway. She said they were the result of being hit in the head by a small rock while watching a World of Outlaws race at the dirt track race in Las Vegas on Thursday night.

In fact, Patrick had nothing but praise for NASCAR’s Generation-6 car, which got a good safety test last weekend when her No. 10 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet blew a tire sending it hard into the SAFER barrier walls at the 1-mile Phoenix oval.

“The cars are safer than they’ve ever been and the tracks,’’ said Patrick, who was cleared medically at the track soon after the accident.

“I said after last weekend that I’m glad that I didn’t race in the era of the lack of SAFER barriers out there because I don’t know what it’s like without them. I know that the hits feel hard and my neck was sore after last weekend for sure, which it never has been before, after a wreck.’’

Patrick said she was confident in the medical care following her accident and declined having further tests done.

“I was able to say my name and where I was born,’’ Patrick said. “They take your blood pressure, they do like vitals and they ask how you’re feeling and I really felt fine. It’s understandable that my neck would be sore.

“They’re thorough, but it’s based on your information too. . … It’s up to you to be honest about it and it’s your decision. You can say, ‘I’m fine,’ and go along with your day. If you’re not, it’s your risk.’’

Patrick said her Stewart-Haas Racing team competition director Greg Zipadelli spoke with Goodyear about the incident. Both she and teammate Ryan Newman had a tire go down.

But Goodyear said Friday it doesn’t consider the incidents to be an issue with the tire. Editor's note: Cup racing includes three brands of cars (four before Dodge dropped out.) Wouldn't it be great to see NASCAR open up the tire category to include Firestone. Then we might see some real competition and a lot fewer excuses.

“Heat, it’s as simple as that,’’ NASCAR Vice President for Competition Robin Pemberton said Thursday. “They have the ability to cool more. It’s a compromise. When you try to run the front of the car as closed off as much as you can for down force, it’s a compromise at every different race track that we run at.’’

“The target changes throughout the year because of the speeds.’’

For this weekend, Patrick had a previously arranged follow-up visit with the medical team on Friday morning to finish up paperwork and gave her a quick check-up before sending her on her way.

And when asked if she’d wage a bet on herself to score a top-25 in Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 400 Sunday, she did not hesitate, “Yeah.’’
Source: www.nascar.com/en_us/news-media/articles/2013/03/08/danica-looking-to-rebound-at-vegas-after-crash.html

One Week Later, Different Story for Danica

The roar of the cars resumed, Lap 194 clicked off the scoreboard and Dale Earnhardt Jr. was in the lead.

It was about then that Danica Patrick stepped out of the infield care center at Phoenix International Raceway, where members of the media stood two and three deep and dozens of fans mingled in the background, camera phones at the ready.

Eighth a week ago in the season-opening Daytona 500, Patrick wasn’t as fortunate in the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at PIR.

A blown tire on Lap 185 sent her Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet hard into the outside wall exiting Turn 4, where it bounced off the wall and into the path of David Ragan’s Ford. Another hard hit and it finally came to rest against the inside wall on the frontstretch.

“Obviously I blew a right-front,” Patrick, 39th in the 43-car field, said after departing the care center. “No real warning. … It was a little unexpected. I took a hard hit to the right, and then on the left (but) I'm fine.”

Seventh in points after her top-10 at Daytona, Patrick tumbled to 22nd in the standings. Teammate Ryan Newman experienced tire issues twice, his 40th-place car towed to the garage after 137 laps.

“I felt like we had some good racing going on out there, I felt like we were making progress with the car,” Patrick said. “Not an awesome day by any means; we weren’t tearing it up, I wouldn’t say. But we were … making progress, holding our own, over halfway through the race (we were) on the lead lap still. I‘d say things were going OK.

“It would have been nice to have gotten maybe a top 20, just for some decent points. Instead, we’ll have to buckle down and run a little better in Vegas.”

Crew chief Tony Gibson said he didn’t think the tire problem was a melted bead, brought on by excessive heat, although Goodyear officials later confirmed that was the case.

“We ran longer than that today earlier with no issue,” Gibson said. “We didn’t see any temperatures all day long; our tires we pulled off were fine. It’s a mystery to me, I don’t know.”

Gibson said that on Saturday, under hotter track temperatures, there were no tire concerns for his team. “And we’ve got less camber than we ran last year with the old car.”

Repairs weren’t necessary as Patrick’s car was totaled. But long after crewmen had begun the process of taking the car apart, Patrick watched intently from the sidelines. Had someone handed her a wrench, she appeared ready and willing to dive in and start removing something. Anything.

“She’s in it to win it,” Gibson said. “She’s got all the desire and the want-to to do it, and she’s got the heart. A lot of people don’t understand that about her. That just shows what she does. She wanted to know what she could do different, was it something she did, how do we fix it for the next time.

“She’s into it, she asks a lot of questions and wants to make things better. That’s all you can ask.”
Source: www.nascar.com/en_us/news-media/articles/2013/03/03/phoenix-crash-danica-patrick-tony-gibson.html

Danica in it to win it

The roar of the cars resumed, Lap 194 clicked off the scoreboard and Dale Earnhardt Jr. was in the lead.

It was about then that Danica Patrick stepped out of the infield care center at Phoenix International Raceway, where members of the media stood two and three deep and dozens of fans mingled in the background, camera phones at the ready.

Eighth a week ago in the season-opening Daytona 500, Patrick wasn’t as fortunate in the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at PIR.

While running 26th and on the lead lap, a blown tire on Lap 185 sent her Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet hard into the outside wall exiting Turn 4, where it bounced off the wall and into the path of David Ragan’s Ford. Another hard hit and it finally came to rest against the inside wall on the frontstretch.


“Obviously I blew a right-front,” Patrick, 39th in the 43-car field, said after departing the care center. “No real warning. … It was a little unexpected. I took a hard hit to the right, and then on the left (but) I'm fine.”

Seventh in points after her top-10 at Daytona, Patrick tumbled to 22nd in the standings. Teammate Ryan Newman experienced tire issues twice, his 40th-place car towed to the garage after 137 laps.

“I felt like we had some good racing going on out there, I felt like we were making progress with the car,” Patrick said. “Not an awesome day by any means; we weren’t tearing it up, I wouldn’t say. But we were … making progress, holding our own, over halfway through the race (we were) on the lead lap still. I‘d say things were going OK.

“It would have been nice to have gotten maybe a top 20, just for some decent points. Instead, we’ll have to buckle down and run a little better in Vegas.”

Crew chief Tony Gibson said he didn’t think the tire problem was a melted bead, brought on by excessive heat, although Goodyear officials later confirmed that was the case.

“We ran longer than that today earlier with no issue,” Gibson said. “We didn’t see any temperatures all day long; our tires we pulled off were fine. It’s a mystery to me, I don’t know.”

Gibson said that on Saturday, under hotter track temperatures, there were no tire concerns for his team. “And we’ve got less camber than we ran last year with the old car.”

Repairs weren’t necessary as Patrick’s car was totaled. But long after crewmen had begun the process of taking the car apart, Patrick watched intently from the sidelines. Had someone handed her a wrench, she appeared ready and willing to dive in and start removing something. Anything.

“She’s in it to win it,” Gibson said. “She’s got all the desire and the want-to to do it, and she’s got the heart. A lot of people don’t understand that about her. That just shows what she does. She wanted to know what she could do different, was it something she did, how do we fix it for the next time.

“She’s into it, she asks a lot of questions and wants to make things better. That’s all you can ask.”
Source: www.nascar.com/en_us/news-media/articles/2013/03/03/phoenix-crash-danica-patrick-tony-gibson.html

Does Danica Patrick’s lighter weight give her an advantage at Daytona?

Danica Patrick, likely the lightest Sprint Cup driver, drives a car that might be 30 pounds or so lighter than most of her competition.

The lighter weight could give Patrick an advantage by allowing her team to redistribute weight in other areas of the car.

But it doesn’t sound like competitors or NASCAR officials are fretting about it all that much.

While there was some speculation in social media that having a lightweight driver could be a benefit, NASCAR officials dismissed that theory as a reason why she won the pole for the Daytona 500.

NASCAR bases its cars on a 180-pound driver. If the driver is 180 pounds or more, the car must weigh 3,300.

A driver who weighs 170-179 pounds must add 10 pounds to the car, while a driver 160-169 pounds must add 20, a driver 150-159 pounds must add 30 and any driver under 150 pounds must add 40.

Patrick, whose weight is estimated between 100 and 110 pounds, therefore drives a car at least 30 pounds lighter than most of the other drivers. Mark Martin, the lightest male driver, weighs around 130 pounds.

“You can’t keep chasing something that has minimal effect,” NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton said about the 40-pound maximum weight added to Patrick’s car. “We want to keep the cars as light as we can anyways. We’re working in that direction.

“For her having any type of advantage, Daytona and Talladega is probably the least advantage it could ever have. Her being 30 or 40 pounds lighter at some other place, maybe you could argue that. But I think some people are chasing ghosts or goblins.”

Patrick crew chief Tony Gibson dismissed the talk.

“To be honest with you, I’d want a fatter driver,” said Gibson, who worked with stocky Ryan Newman, one of the heaviest drivers, the past few years.

“The bigger driver, the weight is behind the center cross member and it helps compress the rear springs more. You’re getting that much weight behind and it’s really an advantage on the restrictor-plate (tracks) to have a bigger driver.”

You can really tell how small Danica Patrick is as she stands next to her team owner, Tony Stewart. It could make more of a difference at a short track like Martinsville or New Hampshire, Pemberton said. Former Cup crew chief Andy Petree, now an ESPN analyst, said it might help most on a road course.

“We have qualified heavy here,” Petree said about his crew chief days. “You always think lighter is better. This kind of thing, I just don’t think it matters.

“Where it could matter is at a road course because the driver sits on the left side and the cars turn to the right. That’s the one place it could be the most advantage—it’s still not going to be great (but) maybe you could measure it there.”

The weight is added to the frame rails.

“The rails are only so long—I can only put so much in certain places,” Gibson said. “I end up filling the rail up and I can’t move (the weight around).”

Former Cup champion Brad Keselowski agreed with Gibson’s theory that heavier is better. In a couple of tweets Sunday, he said: “Lighter cars at super speedways disadvantage. Everywhere else- advantage. Look for conspiracies some where else pls. … Lower cars run better at super speedways because the spoiler is outta the air. Heights for inspection are measured w/o driver.”

A couple of Cup champions dismissed the issue Wednesday, even if there could be something to the theory.

“The old saying was always, 'Light, low and left,’” said 2003 Cup champion Matt Kenseth. “You want to build the cars as light as you can—there's always a weight rule so whatever weight you put in there, you want to get as low as you can to get your center of gravity as low as you can.

“If you're lighter, even if you have to add weight, you can add weight where you want it in the car and if you're shorter then you're sitting lower in the car and all that stuff helps of course. It's always been like that.”

Kenseth, though, quipped: “I don't think it's a huge deal. But yes, if she keeps running that fast, then I think she should have to add a bunch of weight and mount it to the roof."

Patrick would have had a bigger advantage last year, when the driver’s weight was based on 200 pounds and no more than 50 pounds could be added.

“They adjust it and they put weight on cars where you have lighter drivers so it all balances out,” said five-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson.

Pemberton said the rule was changed from a 200-pound driver to an 180-pound driver this year because the drivers have become lighter in recent years.

“When you are trying to race anything, there is a balance between the weight you need and whether it’s a balance of the left-side weight or overall weight, and when you go to a place such as Daytona, it probably means less than any place you go,” Pemberton said.
Source: aol.sportingnews.com/nascar/story/2013-02-21/danica-patrick-weight-issue

The pretty girl who's changing NASCAR

Just before the start of Speedweeks, Danica Patrick had a visitor to her motorhome in the infield at Daytona International Speedway.

Carl Edwards brought his daughter, Anne, over to meet Patrick. Anne, who will turn 3 on Sunday, was wearing green GoDaddy shoes and wanted to meet her favorite racecar driver—or her “other” favorite driver.

“Carl was saying that it’s good that she sees me in real life and in person because he’s like, ‘to her you are like some mythical creature that doesn’t exist,’ ” Patrick said. “She is a big fan.”

Two days later, Patrick won the pole for the Daytona 500, becoming the first female driver to earn the top starting spot for a Sprint Cup race. As she celebrated the historic achievement, she had another visitor. Jeff Gordon brought his 5-year-old daughter, Ella, over to meet Patrick. They posed for a picture together, then with the whole family.

A few minutes later, Jimmie and Chandra Johnson brought their 2-year-old daughter, Genevieve, over to meet her.

As Patrick embarks on her first full Sprint Cup season, three of the biggest names in racing have little girls who were dying to meet NASCAR’s fastest rising star. Their daddies may be their heroes, but it is Danica with whom they are infatuated.

“That is very flattering,” Patrick said Friday.

NASCAR’s biggest stars, from Johnson, Gordon and Edwards to Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt Jr., will take the green flag for the 55th Daytona 500 on Sunday.

But none of them will race under a brighter spotlight than Patrick, who has taken the sport by storm since winning the pole for NASCAR’s biggest race. Media from around the country and around the world have followed her every move this week, flocking to Daytona Beach to record a piece of history.

It couldn’t have come at a better time for NASCAR, which is looking for any push it can get to re-energize a fan base that has become increasingly lackadaisical in recent years.

Since the death of legend Dale Earnhardt in 2001, NASCAR has been starving for a driver who can captivate the masses, appealing to both die-hard fans and attracting new ones.

The sport has longed for a unique, polarizing figure with a colorful personality and the charisma to capture the imagination of old-school fans and attract a new, younger and more diverse audience. Many have tried, but none have developed the expansive, far-reaching appeal NASCAR needs.

That driver may finally have arrived.

Who knew it would be a pretty girl?

The NFL has RG3, the NBA Kobe and LeBron. Golf has Tiger. Now NASCAR has it own star that needs only one name.


Thanks to her supermodel looks and talent behind the wheel, Patrick has been one of NASCAR’s most popular drivers since arriving from IndyCar three years ago. But as she begins her first full Sprint Cup season, she just might be the new face of NASCAR, her popularity spreading to Earnhardt-like proportions.

In the past week, Patrick has appeared on CNN, the NBC Nightly News, CBS This Morning and Good Morning America. NPR has done a piece on her and every major news organization is on the grounds at Daytona to cover her historic Daytona 500 start.

That kind of exposure usually is reserved for the winner of the Daytona 500—not the pole winner.

Though Earnhardt Jr. has been the face of the sport for the past 12 years—and still has the sport’s largest and most loyal fan base—it is Patrick that now is fueling the NASCAR engine. Talk of her possibly unseating Junior as the sport’s most popular driver seemed preposterous a few weeks. Suddenly, it doesn’t seem so far-fetched.

NASCAR hoped its new Gen-6 Sprint Cup car would re-energize fans this year. It has, to a certain extent.

But that story now pales in comparison to the attention and anticipation of Patrick’s arrival in Sprint Cup.

There already was widespread curiosity about Patrick’s first full Cup season, and then two big things happened.

Shortly after filing for divorce from her husband of seven years (a story that made headlines in London), Patrick announced that she has a new boyfriend—fellow Sprint Cup driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. The mild-mannered, soft-spoken Stenhouse was best known for winning consecutive Nationwide Series championships and occasionally donning a black cowboy hat.

Now he is known as “Danica’s boyfriend,” or “the other Junior.” Since going public with their relationship, Danica has done more for Stenhouse’s popularity than anything he could do on the track.

Their budding romance has brought NASCAR unconventional exposure, moving it off the sports pages and into tabloid, TMZ territory, giving the sport a bit of a soap-opera feel. And while that might seem a bit unseemly, NASCAR couldn’t ask for better exposure.

Danica’s love life was the talk of the town as Speedweeks began. Then she went out and won the pole for the Daytona 500, putting her—and Ricky—in an even brighter spotlight.

Since winning the pole, Patrick has been the focus every time she has taken the track. Media flock to her hauler after practice, she is ushered into the media center at every opportunity and she gets more TV time than any driver. Media are even interviewing media about her. While she garnered this kind of attention when she made her first Cup start at last year’s Daytona 500, it has been ramped up tenfold entering this season.

While many fans—and drivers—resent all the attention on Danica, it is having a powerful impact on the sport. For every fan that hates her because of all the attention or because she hasn’t proven herself on the track, there are hundreds more who are fascinated with her appeal.

Tony Gibson, Patrick’s crew chief, estimates that he has handed out more than 50 souvenir lugnuts with Patrick’s No. 10 on them as kids flock to her hauler and her team’s garage stall.

“I have handed out more lug nuts to little girls at those little windows in the garage area than I have since I have been (coming) here,” Gibson, a 20-year veteran, said. “It’s pretty amazing to see the little kids, and the girls especially, walk up with their GoDaddy stuff on and their hats.

“All they want to do is get a glimpse and get a picture and be part of it. … I think that is really cool for our sport, and I think it’s going to help our sport grow.”

Patrick was in a gym recently when a crewman from another team walked up and showed her a video of his kids holding up a magazine with Danica on the cover.

“They said my name and he said, 'I have no idea how they know who you are,' ” Patrick said.

Patrick marvels at the attention and attraction she has for kids.

“I have no idea. I don’t get it either,” she said. “I don’t know where it is coming from. I don’t know if it’s something that they see on TV that doesn’t seem to be so obvious to a parent or if their kids, once they are in school, if it’s part of some curriculum. I’m not really sure.

“I think it’s an interesting thing, though. It’s very flattering and it’s a fortunate situation to find myself in. I enjoy being inspirational to these kids. I’d love to know why.”

For NASCAR and its sponsors, it doesn’t really matter why.

All that matters is that it has a new star—one with a far-reaching attraction that is re-energizing the sport.
Source: aol.sportingnews.com/nascar/story/2013-02-23/danica-patrick-daytona-500

Danica adds Daytona Nationwide Race to Docket

Danica Patrick will pilot Turner Scott Motorsports' fourth entry in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Daytona International Speedway, the team announced Wednesday at NASCAR Media Day Fueled by Sunoco.

Patrick, who will be a full-time Rookie of the Year candidate in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2013, will be behind the wheel of the No. 34 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet Camaro in the season-opening DRIVE4COPD 300. Veteran crew chief Mike Greci will be calling the shots from atop the pit box.

"I'm looking forward to competing in the Nationwide Series race at Daytona, driving the No. 34 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet Camaro," Patrick said in a release. "Turner Scott Motorsports is a great organization and they've got great people to work with. I really have to thank everybody at GoDaddy for this opportunity. They are always so supportive of what I do."

The former IndyCar driver, who made her Nationwide Series debut at the 2.5-mile superspeedway in 2010, has five previous NNS starts in Daytona, with a best finish of 10th (July, 2011). Patrick has three top-five starts at the Daytona Beach, Fla., track, including one pole award, which she earned in the first race of the 2012 season.

Patrick, who is the first woman in history to win an IndyCar race, has raced in a total of 58 NNS events, completing one full-time season in 2012. Patrick finished 10th in the 2012 driver point standings, tallying one top-five and seven top-10 finishes. The Roscoe, Ill., native also earned the NASCAR Nationwide Series Most Popular Driver award following her first full-time NNS campaign.

"We are very happy to announce the addition of Danica Patrick to our lineup for the race in Daytona," team co-owner Harry Scott Jr. said. "We think a lot of Danica and what she's achieved so far in NASCAR. She's a great qualifier at Daytona and she has a lot of experience there in her relatively short NASCAR career. We think Turner Scott Motorsports has a lot of potential for the first race of the season and we're looking forward to getting to the racetrack."

Turner Scott Motorsports heads to Daytona International Speedway as the defending winner of the February race; 2012 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion James Buescher claimed his first NNS win at the season opener in 2012. Patrick will partner with full-time TSM teammates Justin Allgaier, Kyle Larson and Nelson Piquet Jr. in the 300-mile restrictor plate race.
Source: www.nascar.com/en_us/news-media/articles/2013/02/14/danica-patrick-adds-daytona-nationwide-race-to-docket.html

Lineups take Shape for Dicey Duels at Daytona

Danica Patrick and Jeff Gordon locked up the top two spots for the Daytona 500 after Sunday's pole qualifying, but even though the rest of the field is an uncertainty, two other starting lineups came into much clearer focus.

The qualifying speed chart determined the grid for Thursday's Budweiser Duel, the pair of 150-mile qualifying races that will set the starting order for the Feb. 24 Great American Race. Patrick will set the pace from the pole position in the first race and fellow front-row starter Jeff Gordon will start first in the second event of the twin bill.

The top 15 finishers in each Duel race -- excluding Patrick and Gordon -- will clinch a Daytona 500 berth, filling in spots 3-32 in the field. The rest of the 43-car field will be set by a mix of qualifying time (positions 33-36) and provisional berths (positions 37-43), with just two cars on the entry list failing to make the main event.

While teams will be eager to make the most of their track time to gain positions on the starting grid and learn more about their Daytona 500 vehicles, drivers also enter the two races with some anxiety over protecting their primary cars.

"That is our fastest car that we have. We want to keep it clean but we still have to learn what we need to do with it to have the best setup for the Daytona 500 when it comes on Sunday," said Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who will start sixth Thursday in the second Duel. "We will be out there trying to work on it each time we have pit stops and in practice. We will try to get it driving good. By the end of the 500 you want a car that is driving good, not just on speed.”

Results of the qualifying races can often cast a preliminary winner as a Daytona 500 favorite. Matt Kenseth prevailed in the second Duel event last year before winning his second 500 crown, but he was the first driver to sweep both races since 2004, when Dale Earnhardt Jr. accomplished the feat.
Source: www.nascar.com/en_us/news-media/articles/2013/02/17/daytona-duel-qualifying-race-fields-set.html

Heart of Patrick's Team has its Roots in DEI

When Tony Stewart approached Tony Gibson with the prospect of overseeing Danica Patrick’s new Sprint Cup team for the 2013 season, the veteran crew chief had one request -- that he be able to bring the rest of his crew with him.

Understandable, given that Gibson and his guys had been together for much longer than just the four years they had worked with Ryan Newman. Patrick may be the star on Stewart-Haas Racing’s No. 10 team, but the crew which readied the pole-winning car for the Daytona 500 is a tight-knit group that goes back to the heyday of Dale Earnhardt Inc. -- including Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s victory in the 2004 edition of the Great American Race.

Gibson can count them on his fingers. There’s Kevin Pennell, his car chief. There’s Jay Guarneri, his interior mechanic. There’s Brandon Blake, his shop foreman. There’s Brian Holshouser, his shock specialist. There’s Al Tully, his setup guy. There’s John Klausmeier, his engineer. There’s Todd Cable, his transporter driver, and a half dozen other guys back in the fabrication shop. The heart and soul of Patrick’s team are a group of men who together experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows at DEI, and built indestructible bonds in the process.

“I have them all scattered,” Gibson said Wednesday. “It’s like a mini-DEI over there. A lot of us, we just stuck together. We figured, the only way we’re going to survive in this business now, with how it’s going, is to stick together. When the deal kind of went bad over at DEI, we all stuck together. I just wanted to make sure everybody had jobs and we could stick together. And luckily, we were able to.”

When Stewart assumed co-ownership of the rebranded Stewart-Haas operation prior to the 2009 season, he needed not just a crew chief, but a whole crew to fill out an organization that would field two competitive full-time cars. Gibson knew just what to do, gathering together many of the colleagues he had worked with at DEI before that team merged its racing operations with Chip Ganassi’s team. That crew formed the backbone of Newman’s team until late last year, when Stewart switched Gibson over to the program Patrick would front in 2013.

Not surprisingly, the crew chief once again brought his guys with him -- a fact that Gibson said thrilled Stewart, who wanted his rookie driver to be surrounded with an experienced crew. “It just worked out great,” Gibson said. “Here we are again.”

That would be back out front at Daytona, a position many members of the No. 10 team are very familiar with. These are crewmen who worked at DEI when no organization was better at restrictor-plate racing, during a stretch when Earnhardt Jr. and Michael Waltrip were always the favorites at NASCAR’s largest tracks. Gibson, Pennell, Guarneri and many others on Patrick’s crew wore Budweiser red here in 2004, and celebrated memorably in the infield grass after Earnhardt Jr. won the sport’s biggest race. Others were part of Waltrip’s victories. They all know what it takes to go fast on Daytona’s high banks.

So it should come as no surprise that the fastest car on qualifying day was built and prepared by men who once seemed unbeatable on the 2.5-mile track. “Everybody puts in the same effort, whether you’re a mechanic or me or whoever,” said Gibson, who was a mechanic on the No. 8 team in 2004. “It takes everybody to make it happen. So it’s very special to me and my guys, who were at DEI and went through all that, to come here and accomplish this.”

Particularly given where they’ve come from. Despite the success DEI experienced at its height, the wake of Dale Earnhardt’s death was a turbulent time for the organization, with infighting over its direction and the eventual absorption of his racing operation by Ganassi. Gibson and his boys rode it all out, from Earnhardt Jr. and Waltrip to Mark Martin and Aric Almirola, to the bitter end following the 2008 campaign. That experience fostered a trust and a closeness that’s still very evident among Patrick’s crewmen today.

“It’s like a marriage, I guess,” said Guarneri, who was a road mechanic on the No. 8 team in 2004. “I don’t know, because I’ve never been married. But when you’re with somebody … you just know what everybody is going to do. Everybody’s got their own little thing they’ve got to do, and you don’t have to worry about double-checking. Everybody’s got their own little deal, and they know how to do it. And I think Sunday, that proved it and showed we’ve got a pretty good group of guys.”

“We have a good bond together,” added Pennell, who joined DEI in 1995, the team’s first year. “… There’s a good friendship between all of us. Everything clicks. Everybody knows what the other wants. We cover each other’s backs, pretty much.”

Gibson has been a part of four Daytona 500 winners -- one each with Earnhardt Jr. and Waltrip, one with Jeff Gordon in 1999, and one in 1990 with Derrike Cope, for whom he hung car bodies even though he wasn’t officially a member of Bob Whitcomb’s race team. But as much as anything else, he’s been shaped by the trials at DEI, where he learned lessons that may help him shepherd his rookie driver through her first full-time season.

“We’ve been to the high and we’ve been on the low end of it,” he said. “I think at the end of the day, we just try to be humble and know that any day, it could go bad and we could go back to a rookie driver and starting over. I think that’s why Stewart wanted us to be with (Patrick), because we’ve been through all those ups and downs, and we understand it, and it doesn’t phase us. We’ll give you 110 percent no matter who’s driving that race car. I think going through all that deal at DEI just made us stronger. How we all survived that deal over there and still stayed together is pretty amazing. I think going through all that just made us all better people, and stronger, and made us appreciate the job we had.”

No wonder, then, so many of them embraced the idea of being a part of Patrick’s program for 2013. Guarneri will admit, there were times late last year when he heard comments from others in the garage area about being stuck with Danica. They dried up once it became evident how well Patrick and her new crew fit together, a fact that was apparent in the improved performance she enjoyed prior to the end of last season.

“When they took us off Ryan’s deal last year and put us with her with six races to go, that was a godsend,” Guarneri said. “… Everything kind of meshed. It just kind of worked out.”

Besides, dealing with a few derisive comments is nothing for crewmen who know what it’s like to be chewed out by Tony Eury Sr., the crew chief on those great No. 8 teams, where the love-hate relationships overflowed like the Bud in Victory Lane. From victory to heartbreaking disappointment, at Daytona and beyond, the members of Patrick’s crew have experienced it all -- making them a perfect complement to a driver who is going through a full NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season for the first time.

“I think that’s a huge security blanket for her, because she knows she has an experienced team,” Gibson said. “She knows when things go bad and when things go wrong in pressure situations, she’s got a solid team that will pick her up and is going to work hard and it going to make sure she has the best cars she can have. We’re not going to get disappointed when things happen, because we’ve been there. We understand the sport. So I think that relaxed her. I could see it in her. When she found out this whole team was going to be hers, she was just a relaxed person. I think it just gives her a huge comfort zone.”
Source: www.nascar.com/en_us/news-media/articles/2013/02/20/heart-of-danica-patricks-team-has-its-roots-in-dei.html

Patrick becomes the first woman to win Cup Pole

Patrick's record-setting speed has her in prime Daytona position

Danica Patrick’s hot start to 2013 is no fluke.

The Stewart-Haas driver showed she’s more than capable of running with the rest of the pack on Sunday, notching the first Coors Light Pole by a woman in Sprint Cup Series history during qualifying for the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway in just her 11th career start. For the 11th consecutive year, there is a different pole sitter for the Daytona 500.

Patrick’s qualifying time of 45.817 seconds positioned her atop the leaderboard early in the day and her top speed of 196.434 mph is the fastest Daytona 500 qualifying speed since Ken Schrader’s Chevrolet topped out at 196.515 in 1990. The driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet also becomes the first Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate to win the Daytona 500 pole since Jimmie Johnson in 2002 and the first woman to qualify for The Sprint Unlimited.

Watch Danica's Record-Breaking Lap

29:18 3:01 3:37 2:08 :49

Prior to Sunday, there had been just two Coors Light Poles earned by a woman, Patrick last year at Daytona and Shawna Robinson in Atlanta in 1994, both of which came in NASCAR Nationwide Series competition. This will be the best starting position for a female in Sprint Cup history, eclipsing Janet Guthrie’s starting position of ninth at Talladega and Bristol, both in 1977. In 1980, Guthrie started 18th in the Daytona 500, formerly the best start for a woman in Daytona 500 history. She finished 11th in that race.

Jeff Gordon was second on the leaderboard in the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet with a time of 45.85 and a top speed of 196.292, followed by Trevor Bayne’s 45.924 (195.976).

Qualifying Explained

Patrick’s SHR teammates Ryan Newman and Tony Stewart rounded out the top-five, with the 2008 Daytona 500 winner Newman coming in at 45.931 (195.946) and the three-time Sprint Cup Series champion Stewart finishing in 45.936 with a top speed of 195.925.

“I think that says a lot about the team, a lot about Stewart-Haas Racing, a lot about how much work was done over the winter and how they’ve adapted to the new car,” said Patrick. “This is very much a team pole.”

The Generation-6 cars continue to impress, as 22 drivers topped 195 mph. Before Sunday, the last driver to hit that mark in Daytona 500 qualifying was Jeff Gordon (195.067) in 1999. Before that, you have to go back to Davey Allison (195.955) in 1991.
Source: www.nascar.com/en_us/news-media/articles/2013/02/17/danica-patrick-is-first-woman-to-win-nscs-coors-light-pole.html

Patrick stays cool as spotlight intensifies

Historic feats are becoming just another day at the office for 30-year-old Danica Patrick. And her offices tend to be some of the largest venues in sports.

On Sunday, Patrick became the first woman in history to win the pole position for NASCAR’s biggest race, guaranteeing her a spot in the upcoming Daytona 500. (And in her back-up car, I believe.)

In 2005, Patrick was the first woman to lead laps in the Indianapolis 500, and her 2009 third-place finish in open-wheel’s biggest race is still the high mark for a woman. She is the only woman to win a major open-wheel race, taking the trophy at IndyCar’s race in Motegi, Japan in 2008.

A year ago Patrick won the pole position for the Nationwide Series, the first time a woman had started first in a NASCAR-sanctioned race here.

Patrick’s effort Sunday gives her another entry in racing’s history books, but more immediately the headlines, spotlight and worldwide attention with a full week of hype about the sport’s most coveted pole position leading up to NASCAR’s Great American Race.

“I think when pressure’s on, when the spotlight is on, I do feel it ultimately ends up becoming my better moments, my better races, better results and I don’t know why that is,” Patrick said.

“I just understand that if you put the hard work before you go out there, that you can have a little bit of peace of mind knowing you’ve done everything you can and just let it happen.

“First and foremost, I grew up with good values and good goals,” said Patrick, who is the first Rookie of the Year candidate to win the Daytona 500 pole since Jimmie Johnson in 2002.

“I was brought up to be the fastest driver not the fastest girl and that was instilled in me very young, from the beginning.

“Then I feel like thriving in those moments when the pressure is on has been a help for me. I’ve also been lucky in my career to be with good teams and have good people around me.

“For those reasons I’ve been lucky enough to make history, be the first woman to do many things. I really just hope I don’t stop doing that. We have a lot more history to make.”

The significance of the day was not lost on three-time Daytona 500 winner Jeff Gordon, who will start alongside Patrick on the front row and missed the pole position by only a few hundredths of a second.

Trevor Bayne, the 2011 Daytona 500 winner, was third fastest, followed by Patrick’s Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Ryan Newman and owner/driver Tony Stewart.

“It’s great to be a part of history,” Gordon said. “I can say I’m the fastest guy today.

“She comes into this with racing background, with tremendous amount of exposure and momentum and just popularity that we’ve never seen before, especially for a female driver. So for her to follow that up and start the season off with a pole that’s especially impressive.”

Then he added with a grin, “I’m glad I didn’t win the pole; that would have messed that story up. I’m proud to be on the front row side-by-side with Danica.”

And for all the excitement, Patrick’s result Sunday was hardly a surprise. Her No. 10 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet SS was fastest in practice this week and among the quickest during a test last month at Daytona International Speedway.

In the moments after she climbed out of her car following qualifying she was quick to credit her Stewart-Haas Racing team for its preparation in an especially busy off-season complicated by developing and building NASCAR’s new Generation-6 race cars.

Initially, it was hard to tell if Patrick was more relieved or joyful despite the fact she ran the third quickest qualifying lap since NASCAR mandated restrictor plates on its two super speedways in 1988.

“I’m proud of all the hard work that goes into the pole car,” she said. “It’s not just turning left; it’s all the attention to detail they put in during the winter. And this just speaks volumes about Stewart-Haas Racing.”

Patrick’s crew chief Tony Gibson -- who was on the Daytona 500-winning crews of Gordon (1999) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2004) -- said he considered this one of the proudest moments of his career. And he was quick to praise Patrick, reminding people the car didn’t drive itself.

“I’m proud of her to carry that weight on her shoulders and she didn’t falter,” Gibson said.

After making headlines earlier this week discussing her romantic relationship with fellow Sprint Cup Series Rookie of the Year candidate Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Patrick has once again earned attention for her on-track work.

When asked if the couple made a fun “side bet” on who would qualify best, Stenhouse joked, “I don’t make bets I don’t think I can win.”

Good thing as he will start 12th.

Patrick’s team owner Tony Stewart told reporters, “I think Danica actually has two boyfriends. She has Ricky (Stenhouse) and she has Tony Gibson. They are almost holding hands in the shop when they’re there every day together.

“It’s good for me to see as an owner. I like to see that chemistry.”

Racing trailblazer Janet Guthrie held the previous best start for a woman in the 1980 Daytona 500 with an 18th place qualifying run. Her 11th-place finish in that race is still the best ever for a woman. Her pair of ninth-place starts (in 1977 at Talladega, Ala. and Bristol, Tenn.) is the best for a woman in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series.

“Fabulous, a great day for women in sports, for NASCAR, for Tony Stewart, and for Danica,” said Lyn St. James, who competed in three Indy 500s and was the first woman to win Indy’s Rookie of the Race award (1994).

“It's a reminder to everyone, not just in racing, that women are capable when talent, determination, preparation, and opportunity collide.

“It will also be very exciting and interesting to see how she runs in the 500. Could be another milestone. It will be interesting how the media and other competitors react to this all week.”

Patrick joked during her winner’s press conference that she had previously planned to take Monday and Tuesday off before the next scheduled on-track activity on Wednesday at Daytona.

But that’s not likely considering the weight of her achievement and the interest it has generated. All things she is well aware of -- and happy to oblige.

“This is a pretty big stage,” Patrick said. “There’s a lot of people that benefit from this and a lot of people see it. I feel like a lot of people win (with this) as far as the team, Tony (Stewart), GoDaddy, Hendrick (Motorsports, which supplies her team’s engines) and Chevy.”

It is certainly a good payoff for a long day of anticipation and nerves.

Patrick went out eighth of 45 cars that made qualifying laps on Sunday meaning she had to wait nearly two hours before finding out if her fast speed held.

And for much of the afternoon she and her Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Newman and Stewart were 1-2-3.

“They make me look smart, but I’m not,” Stewart joked. “I could not be more proud of what our guys did during the offseason. They worked really really hard a lot of really late nights.”

As for his driver, Stewart cautioned the loudest Danica naysayers and issued a vote of confidence.

“I believe in her, the team believes in her, our organization believes in her,” Stewart said. “We’re going to do everything we can to make her as consistent and fast every week. The thing I caution everybody is, everybody puts high expectations (on her). Since she’s got here (to NASCAR), everybody has put her under such as strong microscope.

“Nobody said, Tony Stewart is going to be a top-15 car every week the first or second year. Nobody cared. But everybody is so focused on what she’s going to do. You just strictly have to wait and see. It’s still a rookie year for her.

“But we feel like she’s got the tools and mindset to go out and do a good job each week.”

And so the star in her sponsor GoDaddy.com’s commercials during football’s Super Bowl, Patrick finds herself the center of the action in NASCAR’s Super Bowl.

“Today was a cool day,” Patrick said. “I’ve been lucky enough and very blessed in my career to have had a lot of really, really cool days. A lot of things that in a really long time, I can reflect on and be very grateful.”
Source: www.nascar.com/en_us/news-media/articles/2013/02/17/danica-patrick-daytona-500-pole-nascar.html

Daytona 500 2013: Danica Patrick fastest as practice gets under way at Daytona

Danica Patrick had a fast car during Sprint Cup testing at Daytona International Speedway last month.

It's still fast.

Patrick led much of the first practice session Saturday morning and then finished the day at the top of the speed chart in the final practice before Daytona 500 qualifying, making her the favorite to win the pole on Sunday.

Patrick's speed of 196.220 mph was the fastest of the day.

Tony Stewart, Patrick's car owner and teammate, was second in the final session followed by Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Patrick quickly jumped to the top of the speed chart as practice got under way Saturday with teams preparing for Daytona 500 qualifying. She led most of the first practice session before winding up third, and then rocketed back to the top of the speed chart during the afternoon session.

About 30 minutes into the first two-hour practice session Saturday morning, Patrick was fastest at 195.359 mph.

"That was a good pole run that we feel good about," said Patrick, who ran just two laps while other ran eight to 11. "We're not there yet, but so far so good."

Danica Patrick was fastest early in Sprint Cup practice at Daytona International Speedway. (AP Photo)Patrick led most of the session until Joey Logano and Austin Dillon sped past her in the final minutes of practice. Logano wound up fastest at 195.410 mph in his Penske Racing Ford. Austin Dillion, a Nationwide Series star who is running only a partial Cup schedule for Richard Childress Racing, was second at 195.380.

Patrick didn't hit the track until an hour into the afternoon practice session, but she immediately sped to the top of the chart with a lap of 196.220 and stayed there.

Rounding out the top 10 in the second session were: Jamie McMurray, Trevor Bayne, Paul Menard, Ryan Newman, Joey Logano and Jeff Burton.

Rounding out the top 10 in the first session were: Menard, Burton, Kasey Kahne, Bayne, Juan Pablo Montoya, Earnhardt and Kyle Busch.

Among those struggling were Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski, who was 31st in the first session and 22nd in the second. The Roush Fenway Racing drivers also struggled. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Patrick's boyfriend, was 15th in the first session but teammate Carl Edwards was 22nd and Greg Biffle 30th. Biffle and Edwards both improved slightly in the second session.

Daytona 500 qualifying is set for 1 p.m. ET Sunday.
Source: aol.sportingnews.com/nascar/story/2013-02-16/danica-patrick-fast-daytona-500-2013-practice-qualifying-speedweeks?icid=maing-grid10%7Chtmlws-main-bb%7Cdl12%7Csec3_lnk2%26pLid%3D271499

Danica Patrick and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: Danica relaxed, happy talking about relationship with new boyfriend

When Danica Patrick first thought about dating Ricky Stenhouse Jr., she wasn't real sure about dating someone she'll be racing against in the Sprint Cup Series.

But some decisions in life aren't always made with the brain.

"Initially it was a little bit of a mental hurdle of like, 'We compete against each other,' " Patrick said at NASCAR Media Day Thursday, describing her relationship with Stenhouse much like a Romeo-and-Juliet scenario. "It's like the Capulets and Montagues with (me in) Chevy and (him in) Ford, this just doesn't work.

"But you can't tell your heart who to like or not like. And so in the end, it ended up being something that I just didn't think was a big deal at all."

So Patrick, a 30-year-old Cup rookie driving for Stewart-Haas Racing, started dating Stenhouse, a 25-year-old Cup rookie for Roush Fenway Racing sometime last year.

They have created an environment where they compete against each other at the highest NASCAR level while trying to put their budding romance aside for a few hours every week.

Can they do it without the personal and emotional side of their lives overlapping into racing?

Patrick insisted she could as she addressed reporters during media day at Daytona International Speedway.

Patrick said she and Stenhouse have raced against each other the past three years with no problem, with Stenhouse, the two-time defending Nationwide Series champion, mostly trying to pass her on the track.

"It's about respect and neither of us put up a big fight," Patrick said. "So far it's been pretty obvious who's faster than who whenever someone comes up from behind the other. For the most part … I don't see us putting up a huge battle (in those situations).

"As we keep getting better over the years, you're going to end up having to race each other harder because they're going to be for better spots. But in general, it's going to be just like it always has been."

Patrick said Stenhouse has a reputation as a driver who hates to give an inch, and she knows that.

"The extent of my conversation (with him) about racing with each other is laughing and saying, 'I'm going to have to outsmart you because I know you're not lifting,' " Patrick said.

Patrick filed for divorce in January to end her seven-year marriage with Paul Hospenthal, saying their union was "irretrievably broken."

A divorce in Arizona takes at least 60 days to complete.

Patrick said she wouldn't talk specifics of her personal life but knows that obviously dating a competitor is a unique situation.

"I'm just relaxed," Patrick said. "I feel happy. I feel like I am enjoying my life. It makes me smile to talk about him. … I feel like I'm on 'The Bachelorette' — I just had a connection (with him)."

While few in the industry seemed surprised by the news of the Stenhouse-Patrick relationship when it broke last month, Patrick said the romance is relatively new.

"We've been friends for a long time," Patrick said. "I've always gotten along with him. I guess that's what they observed.

"They saw something we didn't know about."

Patrick said it was "not long ago" that they started actually dating.

"It was just talking a little more often and then deciding to spend time together and that goes on from there," Patrick said. "I've spent such time with him, whether I had dinner with him or do appearances or things like that, it's pretty tough to put a first date on anything.

"There was one point in time that I asked him to ask me on the date."

And what will she ask or say to him if he wrecks her?

"He better have a really good, 'I'm sorry,' " Patrick said with a wink.
Source: aol.sportingnews.com/nascar/story/2013-02-14/danica-patrick-ricky-stenhouse-jr-relationship-dating-rivalry-media-day?grcc2=9e3027473c70de454b705ca4bbe531b4%7E1361026133427%7E46ecb09adc92a29bc5142a779997297b%7E44fad5de09ac4469ab8ff6c32be0d7ae%7E1361026020000%7E598%7E0%7E0%7E0%7E0%7E0%7E0%7E0%7E7%7E1%7E12%7E88%7E605%7E684495051686127716%7E%7Ehttp%3A%2F%2Faol.sportingnews.com%2Fsoccer%2Fstory%2F2013-02-15%2Fus-soccer-star-robbie-rogers-announces-hes-gay-walk-away-from-sport%7E114%7E


Danica Patrick acquires 2012 Sprint Cup owner points through deal struck by Stewart-Haas Racing

Stewart-Haas Racing has acquired owner points for Danica Patrick’s Sprint Cup team heading into 2013, but likely not enough to ensure that Patrick doesn’t miss the Daytona 500.

Patrick drove the No. 10 car in 10 races last year but she will not have those points from last season. Instead, Stewart-Haas Racing has struck a deal with Robinson-Blakeney Racing to acquire the owner points from its No. 49 team.

The No. 49 car, which was driven primarily by J.J. Yeley, was 42nd in owner points, which likely would do little to help Patrick make the Daytona 500 should she have problems in qualifying or the qualifying races. The deal, though, could possibly help her team if rain washes out qualifying for the following races at Phoenix and Las Vegas.

Patrick, who is running the full Sprint Cup schedule for the first time this year, drove the No. 10 car in 10 races last year through a partnership between Stewart-Haas and Tommy Baldwin Racing, which will keep those points (33rd overall) for its two-car organization entering 2013.

“Everyone at Stewart-Haas Racing continues to work tirelessly to ensure that all of our teams are as prepared as possible to start the 2013 season,” SHR Executive Vice President Brett Frood said in a statement. “In the case of the No. 10 GoDaddy.com team, providing a foundation of points for which the team can start the year was very important.

“As optimistic as we are regarding our prospects for this year, one element we cannot control is the weather. … It’s basically insurance for the first three races of the year, where provisionals are based on 2012 owner points.”

The starting lineup for the Daytona 500 is set by a mix of qualifying speed and results in the two Budweiser Duel qualifying races.

The front row (the top two spots) will be set by qualifying speed on Feb. 17 with positions 3-32 determined by the top-15 finishers — not including the front-row qualifiers — from each qualifying race on Feb. 21.

Four spots then are determined by qualifying speed, six by 2012 owner points and then one spot for a past champion’s provisional. If there’s no past champion eligible, then another spot is awarded by 2012 owner points.

In the next two races at Phoenix and Las Vegas, the fastest 36 cars make the field on speed with the rest of the field set by 2012 owner points, with one spot available for a past champion or another by owner points.

If it rains at Phoenix or Las Vegas, the top 36 teams in 2012 owner points make the field, followed by race-winning drivers and owners from the previous year, past champions, those currently in the top 36 in owner points and then qualifying attempts from 2012.

The No. 49 Robinson-Blakeney car was 42nd in owner points overall and 43rd with 25 attempts in 2012.

“At Daytona, we know the No. 10 team needs to either qualify on speed or race its way into the Daytona 500 via a strong finish in the Budweiser Duel,” Frood said.

“But if rain cancels qualifying at either Phoenix or Las Vegas, our No. 10 team will be well positioned to earn a provisional starting spot and race on Sunday.”

Starting with the fourth race of the season, 2013 owner points will be used to set the field if it rains. If Patrick makes the first three races, she should be well positioned for at least the next few races.

“I worked hard for my points,” Stewart said a few weeks ago. “That's the confidence I have in her. I really feel like (crew chief) Tony (Gibson) and that team has done a great job with building her a great car for Daytona, and I feel like she's definitely got the talent and capability of racing her way in and hopefully just qualifying in (by speed) to where we don't have to worry about the qualifying races.

“But I think she'll do a great job on her own. We, business-wise, had to keep the points that we had for our car because of the bonus money.”

Patrick was 10th-fastest in single-car runs during January testing at Daytona.
Source: aol.sportingnews.com/nascar/story/2013-02-08/danica-patrick-2013-owner-points-daytona-500-qualifying-stewart-haas-racing?modid=recommended_5_5

Schedule & Results

2013 Sprint Cup Series Race Stats



Feb 21

Daytona Duel 1


Feb 24

Daytona 500


March 3


Blown Tire

March 10

Las Vegas


March 17



March 24



April 7



April 13



April 21



April 27



May 5



May 11



May 18

Charlotte Showdown


May 18

Charlotte All-Star Race


May 26



June 2



June 9



June 16



June 23



June 29



July 6



July 14

New Hampshire


July 28



Aug 4



Aug 11

Watkins Glen


Aug 18



Aug 24






Sep 7



Sep 15

Chicago - Chase Starts


Sep 22

New Hampshire


Sep 29



Oct 6



Oct 12



Oct 20



Oct 27



Nov 3



Nov 10



Nov 17



**Changed engines, had to start in back, no report found from NASCAR as to the actual starting position.

2013 Nationwide Series Race Stats



Feb 23



May 4



June 22

Road America


June 28



July 5



July 13

New Hampshire


July 21



July 27



Aug 3



Aug 10

Watkins Glen


Aug 17



Aug 23



Aug 31



Sep 6



Sep 14



Sep 21



Sep 28



Oct 5



Oct 11



Nov 2



Nov 9



©1996-2018 by Gordon Clay