Cup experience has helped Danica Patrick’s Nationwide program

Brad Sweet, driver of the #38 Great Clips Chevrolet, and Danica Patrick, driver of the #7 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, are involved in an incident during the NASCAR Nationwide Series 5-hour Energy 200 at Dover International Speedway on June 2, 2012 in Dover, Delaware. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)

DOVER, Del. — It’s patently obvious that Danica Patrick’s comfort level in her NASCAR Nationwide Series car has risen dramatically in her first full season in the series.

Though increased seat time accounts for a lot of the improvement, her three appearances in a Sprint Cup car also contribute. Patrick has three top-10 qualifying efforts in Nationwide this season — including the pole for the season-opening race at Daytona — and she has posted five top-13 results in 11 races.

Patrick agrees that driving the Cup cars, which have more than a 200-horsepower edge over their Nationwide counterparts, has made a difference.

“After Charlotte last weekend, on Memorial Day, I was out floating on Lake Norman and came across Denny Hamlin,” Patrick told the NASCAR Wire Service on Friday at Dover International Speedway. “We struck up a conversation, and one of the first things we started talking about was how much it helped him when he started racing a Cup car and how much it helped his Nationwide program.

“I said I couldn’t agree more. I feel like every time I get in a Nationwide car after being in a Cup car, I just feel so much more comfortable than I did previously. It’s definitely a lot of work on the weekends to do both, but I really think it pays off, and it’s definitely something to think about as I move forward.”

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