Patrick getting ready for Darlington

Danica Patrick, driver of the #7 Chevrolet, stands by her car during qualifying for the NASCAR Nationwide Series Virginia 529 College Savings 250 at Richmond International Raceway on April 27, 2012 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images for NASCAR)

RICHMOND, Va. — Two weeks away from her second Sprint Cup race — at Darlington, no less — Danica Patrick has more of an idea about how a Cup car really feels.

Patrick made her Cup debut in the Daytona 500 but was the victim of a wreck as she started the second lap, and her car was never up to speed thereafter.

“I tested the Cup car actually this week,” Patrick told the NASCAR Wire Service on Friday after Nationwide Series practice at Richmond. “I would say it’s my first ‘real’ time in a Cup car. I kind of don’t think Daytona completely counts — you’re not really doing much but holding it wide open.

“It was good. I had a lot of fun. I felt really comfortable right off the get-go. I could definitely feel the acceleration of the car. You’ve got to get comfortable on the brakes and get comfortable with the car getting in the corners on the brakes, and I think that’s something I have to get used to.”

Darlington, billed as the Track too Tough to Tame, presents a unique set of challenges. Patrick plans to get a close look at NASCAR’s oldest superspeedway before she races there.

“I’ve got to do a few laps in anything around Darlington, I’ve heard, before I get out there in a car,” Patrick said. “I’ll make sure I get there the day before . . . get a rental out there and just kind of run around.

“The point of this process and the point of choosing Darlington was to go to the toughest tracks and get the toughest ones out of the way, the ones that take a lot of tries before you really get comfortable there and just get the process going.

“I know it’s going to be hard. I know there’s going to be some frustrating moments and some moments that I’m probably going to feel a little embarrassed, but I’m there to get my Darlington stripes and move along.”

Patrick finished 21 in the Nationwide race Friday night.


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