SPARTA, Ky. –Danica Patrick makes her first start of the season with new crew chief Ryan Pemberton atop the pit box.
Originally brought in to be a consultant at JR Motorsports when the team announced it was replacing competition director Tony Eury Sr. last week, Pemberton was quickly elevated to replace the elder Eury, and then added crew chief duties when Eury’s son, Tony Jr., was also released from the organization earlier this week.
“I think it’s safe to say it has been an eventful week for our Go Daddy team and pretty much everybody at JR Motorsports, for that matter,” Patrick said. “It’s going to be critical that we keep our focus going into this weekend. We still have seven races left on the schedule and getting solid finishes through the end of the year is important for our team.”
Patrick is currently ranked 11th in the Nationwide standings, a massive 365 points behind Stenhouse, but comes into Saturday’s race just 16 points out of the top 10. She is completing her final full-time season in the Nationwide series; she’ll jump full-time to Sprint Cup in 2013.
As for working with the veteran Pemberton over the remaining seven races, Patrick is ready.
“I’m going to do my best to get acclimated with Ryan this week,” Patrick said. “I think that will be easier said than done. There’s no doubt it will be challenging and we won’t have a lot of time to do it in.
“Chemistry is important for a driver and crew chief, so I’m hopeful we get adjusted to each other quickly. I don’t know a whole lot about him, but what I do know is that he has a wealth of experience and comes well recommended.”