Danica determined in Indy homecoming

Danica Patrick, driver of the #7 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet signs autographs at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 27, 2012, in Indianapolis, Ind. (Getty Images)
Danica Patrick, driver of the #7 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet signs autographs at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 27, 2012, in Indianapolis, Ind. (Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS — Danica Patrick will mark her eighth straight year of racing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway this Saturday. It’s a solid streak, but this season’s trip will be a different beast altogether.

Patrick hopes to build upon her wealth of Indy experience in the NASCAR Nationwide Series’ first-ever visit to the 2.5-mile speedway for Saturday’s Indiana 250 (4:30 p.m. ET, ESPN). While Patrick certainly knows her way around the Brickyard, this will be her first Indy experience in a stock car, which weighs more than twice as much as the IndyCars she used to pilot.

Patrick is no stranger to firsts at Indianapolis — she became the first woman in track history to lead laps in the 2005 Indianapolis 500 and notched a best finish of third place in the 2009 race.

“I have such good memories and feel so good when I come into the track and just see the facility,” Patrick said. “I think those good emotions, those positive emotions a lot of times can translate to a good weekend, so I look forward to that. I look forward to seeing the fans from Indianapolis. My family lives there — my sister and my parents do now — so it should be a fun weekend and I look forward to the experience in a stock car.”

Saturday’s race will also have extra incentive in the form of the Dash 4 Cash program, with points leader Elliott Sadler, defending series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Justin Allgaier and Michael Annett eligible for a $100,000 bonus that goes to the highest finisher among that quartet.

Six-figure payday or not, Sadler — last week’s winner at Chicagoland Speedway — suggests motivation won’t be a problem at one of NASCAR’s crown jewel tracks.

“It’s going to be a big deal,” Sadler said. “It’s always pretty special when you can win the inaugural race anywhere. I was able to do that in St. Louis in 1998 and I still look at that trophy and think that’s something no one can take away from you. We’re going to go there loaded for bear.”

Sadler holds an 11-point edge in the standings over Richard Childress Racing teammate Austin Dillon after 18 of 33 races this year. Stenhouse — like Sadler, a three-time Nationwide winner this season — ranks third, 19 points back.

About Greg Engle 7420 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for Examiner.com and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.