A modest goal for Patrick

Danica Patrick, driver of the #10 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series IRWIN Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 24, 2012 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

BRISTOL, Tenn. — For her fourth start in the Sprint Cup series, Danica Patrick doesn’t have her sights set on Victory Lane. She’ll be content to be on the track with her car intact when the race is over.

“Finishing all the laps is the most important thing for me — to be able to get that seat time, and to be able to feel how the track changes, as well as get used to the distance and work on the car throughout the race,” Patrick said Friday at Bristol, where she is competing in both the Nationwide and Cup series.

“I’ve always said I feel like there is always a rhythm to a race, and you have to kind of get a feel for that by doing the whole thing. Again, (car owner) Tony (Stewart) picked what he thought were the toughest races of the year for me to run. With that in mind, finishing the laps will be the goal for tomorrow night.”

In her previous three Cup starts, Patrick’s best finish was 30th at Charlotte in May. Patrick’s No. 10 Chevrolet was the slowest of 47 cars in both Cup practice sessions on Friday.

But, as Stewart pointed out, it’s part of Patrick’s trial by fire.

“It’s not going to be an easy day for her by any means, but it’s not supposed to be,” Stewart said Friday. “We picked the hard tracks, and you’re going to have to run them at some point.

“The biggest thing is, while she’s not racing for points this year, it’s better to bring her now and let her get some experience before she does come back and is racing for points next year.”

Patrick will start 43rd Saturday night.

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