Friday, May 25, 2012

Patrick's double-duty weekend at Charlotte

Danica Patrick answers to reporters in Darlington, S.C.
Photo Credit: Genevieve 
Danica Patrick is pulling double-duty this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway. She’ll be racing in the Nationwide Series and will compete in her third Sprint Cup event for Stewart-Haas Racing.

When asked to talk about her debut in the Coca-Cola 600, she jokingly said, “I don’t really know what to think yet. I feel like I’ve got a good distance preview with Darlington. What’s another 100?”

Patrick feels fortunate to have the opportunity to race in both the History 300 on Saturday and the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday night.

Although it’s not her first time racing at Charlotte, it is her first time at the track on Memorial Day weekend. In the last seven years, the IndyCar star was committed to the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. 

Patrick watched the Indy 500 qualifying times last weekend and thought about how she would be doing if she were there. She’s able to imagine every thought that goes through all the drivers' heads, but she didn’t feel like she wanted to be there.

“I’m very pleased that I’m in NASCAR,” she said. “I’m very happy. I’m having a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to a different challenge this weekend.”

Patrick went on to tell reporters how she felt about being in Charlotte on Memorial Day weekend. “I’m excited to see the festivities,” she said. “Actually, as I look out the window there is a massive American flag,” she said in reference to the American flag that is stretched out over the grandstands facing Turn 2 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Patrick continued to express her contentment about being in Charlotte this weekend. “I’m excited to see the sites and see the fans. Driving in last night (Wednesday) I saw the sea of campers. It is a nice feeling as a driver, I love to be a part of the events that are a big deal and that people watch and follow.”

“More than anything,” Patrick said, “it’s about the atmosphere and how that makes you feel and the energy that gives you.”

What does Memorial Day mean to Patrick? “I think it’s a great thing that we have Memorial Day to put that in front of our mind instead of letting it be a sub-thought to things. It’s good reason to celebrate for those who aren’t here, hopefully they come home soon.”

“What it reminds you of,” Patrick said, “is that they are families and these men and women that serve our country, they are leaving behind a lot.”

On Saturday, she’ll be racing her No. 7 car for JR Motorsports. Qualifying time is at 11 a.m. ET and will be aired on ESPN2. Patrick goes out 35th. Her practice times were solid, clocking speeds of 179.468 mph, putting her seventh-fastest in final practice.

It's a whole different experience in her Stewart-Haas Racing No. 10 car. She qualified 43rd, and is locked into Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 because of owner points.

Her boss in the Nationwide Series Dale Earnhardt Jr., said he does not know what her plans are for next year, but he does think she’s had a difficult season.

“I think she just needs to buckle down and try to learn everything she can,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “She’s really trying to get a four-year degree in a short amount of time. She’s trying to learn a lot in a little amount of time, and I think she just needs to concentrate on what she can learn, what she can improve on and she’s going to have a bigger challenge next year.”

Tony Stewart said Patrick did a good job in Darlington. “If you can get through Darlington weekend, you can get through this weekend. Those extra 100 miles aren’t near as hard as Darlington, I believe.”

Patrick has to answer to three different bosses in a day for two different teams. How do they compare?

Patrick says Kelley Earnhardt-Miller, co-owner and general manager of JR Motorsport, is “very straightforward and to the point.”

About Earnhardt Jr., she says, “I don’t feel like I have necessarily a much of a ‘boss’ relationship with him.” Although it is true that he is her boss, “it is more of a teammate feel for me from learning from him.”

As to how this compares to Stewart, Patrick said, “Tony has that - you do feel a little bit more of a that boss side to him because he is more involved I feel like with the team and the operations and keeping things where he wants them.”

As she continues to make her way in NASCAR, Patrick said, “I’ve been very fortunate that everyone in NASCAR has been very kind and welcoming and helpful."

Photo Credit goes to my niece.
Genevieve is a freelance writer with a day job. Currently residing in the Charlotte area, she spends her time off with family, exercising, and in the summers she loves to swim. The photos in this picture are her own, photography is her new hobby. You can follow her on Twitter at @C_Genevieve.


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