Saturday, 09 December 2023

Danica Patrick delivers 7th-place finish at Martinsville

Posted On Monday, 30 March 2015 20:00 Written by
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Danica Patrick earned her fifth career top-10 finish at the 0.526-mile track taking the checkered flag in the seventh spot. Patrick’s finish is the best by a female at Martinsville Speedway and it ties her second-best career finish. The driver of the No. 10 TaxAct Chevrolet SS is now tied with Janet Guthrie for the most top-10 finishes earned by a female in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series.



KERRY THARP: Danica Patrick ties her second‑best career finish in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with a fine showing of seventh here today at Martinsville Speedway. She drives the No. 10 TaxAct Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing. Talk about getting around Martinsville and certainly you had a good afternoon.

DANICA PATRICK: Yeah, well, it didn't start good. At the start of the race we had those yellows early so it was deceiving to know how good the car was or how bad it was. We really were very tight in the center, which ends up making you lose drive off because you have so much wheel in it and you're just trying to fight it. We just weren't very good to start. We took a chance and stayed out on a yellow, and we were front row, and I bet I looked like an idiot out there. I spun the wheels on the start and hung on a little bit, but then ended up going backwards in a hurry.

You can't stay out if your car is not good. So if the car is good, you'll be lucky if you don't end up further back than where you were or where you would have been if you would have just pitted. It's just that kind of track. The tires mean a lot, and they keep falling off. It just happens, but that's also what makes the racing better here than some places.

I was definitely not happy on the radio to some degree, and it was a general disaster going on, but I said before the race started that we can be down here but we can still come back, and if we get there, let's just keep digging and let's find something. First time here I was two laps down and finished 11th. Well, we got a lap down, we got it back luckily, and we moved forward from there, and we made a couple of good changes in the middle of the race that really made the difference, and

I said if we could just do a little bit more and make me just a little bit better, we're going to be good. We're at least going to be all right. And that's what we did.

A little tight the last two runs, so I'd say, what, the last 100 laps, I guess, were not great, but they weren't by any means a disaster. It was just not as strong as what I would have wanted, especially as the run went on. We tried a little bit of left-rear pressure, a little bit of right front, and neither one of them really did it. When I say little, they were little changes, but this track tends to trend towards tight, so I just was more concerned about wrecking the balance of the car than I was to just deal with a little bit of something that wasn't perfect.

I'm proud of everyone for not giving up and for keeping their head in the game, and the pit crew did a good job. They were frustrated last weekend after making a mistake on the last stop, and it's team effort, you know. I'm going to make mistakes at the very end, too. I'm not going to lie, I was glad there was not a yellow at the very end coming to the white. I was glad for that.

Q. You were almost collected up in one of those accordion-like incidents.


Q. But you maneuvered your way out. Talk about what happened there.

DANICA PATRICK: Well, which one are you talking about? That's kind of the way it goes at Martinsville. I think all four corners are banged up, but there was the one with Larson where I got drilled, but it spun him…not Larson, of course, which I hope Larson is okay. I was shocked to hear him not be in the car. But that was Regan. And then the other one where the No. 27 (Paul Menard) spun. I can't remember who got into, maybe the No. 19 (Carl Edwards)? I can't remember, I don't want to be wrong and call out the wrong person, but 27 got sideways and he was just completely sideways in front of my car, and luckily I had slowed down enough and swerved to the right. It's all a matter of luck, too. I could have got drilled from the back and hit into the car. I could have swerved to the right and had somebody clip my right rear and spun, somebody could have been out there. Crashes are about observing where you're at and making a good decision about where to go, but they're also about luck. I got lucky that there was nothing in my way to get around that one. That would have probably wrecked my day.

Q. What do you feel like this finish says about the communication between you and (crew chief) Daniel (Knost), the fact that you were able to get a car better during a race?

DANICA PATRICK: I think that's a good question. I'd said after the race that I'm really proud that we got it better instead of what has been happening most of the races, which is we start really good, find ourselves somewhere in the top 15 for sure, and then all of a sudden we make a change on a stop and we go slower, and then we make a change and go slower. And then I'm like, take it all out, it's not working, the car has less grip, and then we go, there it is, we just dialed ourselves out for 100 laps. I was proud that today while we didn't start off quite as well, I would take this transition any day to end up with a top 10 than start off all right and struggle in the middle. The middle of the race was where we started improving, so I think this is a step in the right direction of a better trend of our communication and what we're doing, and we still learned out there. At one point in time I said that that change didn't…the changes didn't work, and I was like, I think maybe we should go this direction, and after the stop I said, did you take that change out of the right front that I asked for, and he said no, and I said, when I say it's not better, take it all out. You dial yourself out very fast in these cars.

We're still learning, but it wasn't too big of a problem, and once we got that out, that's actually our best run, I think, was that one.

Q. How would you characterize your relationship with Daniel overall? This is race 8 or 9 at this point. Do you guys feel like you're trending in the right direction?

DANICA PATRICK: Yes. I feel like we have a very good. I feel like we have a very good business relationship. We laugh and hang out and make jokes, and yet I feel like it's very matter of fact, the things that are going right and wrong when we go through our weekend. I feel like there's not a lot of emotion or nobody feels like it's personal as we go. It's really just about making it better. It's hard because this sport, we spend so much time together, and everything we do we put our heart into, and it's everything we've got, and so when things don't go right, it can feel personal. It can feel personal.

But I think we have a very good working relationship, and I don't want that to sound cold. We get along great and we have a lot of fun. I think that the balance in the front of the hauler with all the engineers, I think it's really good, and I think we have a lot of fun, but we also do good work. I'm lucky I have three really, really, really smart engineers on my car, and I think that that shows because every weekend when we arrive we're in the ballpark. We're not starting off and rolling off and being 36th on the board and trying to figure it out. We roll off and generally our problem is not where we start but where we go. We've got to make it better, and that also is in the same thread of the race. We've got to make it better.
I think that we're on our way, and we're learning what changes I feel and the best way to communicate.

Q. Kind of piggy-backing off those questions, we've seen Kevin (Harvick) run well, we saw Kurt (Busch) run well, Tony (Stewart) was running well today, you ran well. What's this say for the entire Stewart-Haas organization moving forward that all you guys were able to put up solid results?

DANICA PATRICK: That's another thing that came up on pit lane, somebody asked me about being good here, and I said I've been driving for a good team the whole time. The car has to be good or I can't go fast, and the first half of the race was a perfect example of that. When the car is right you can go fast, but if the driver is making mistakes and not doing a good job and crashing or getting off line, that also won't help you have a good result. And then overall, we can't do well, I can't do well if the team doesn't provide the people and the equipment that I need to perform. And so a couple of years ago if you would have asked how we all felt everything was going on the team, there probably wouldn't be a lot of positive things to say. But that's an example of an organization digging deep and finding ways, and by all means the last couple of years here, we've been much stronger, and it makes it much more fun out there. The team has to provide the way that they need to, to do well.

-- Press release courtesy of Chevy Racing

Matt M. Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

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