Ford Performance NASCAR: Danica Patrick Open Interview – Ford EcoBoost 400

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Danica Patrick Open Interview – Ford EcoBoost 400 – Homestead-Miami Speedway

Friday, November 17, 2017

Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 Aspen Dental Ford Fusion, met with the media today after first practice for Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

DANICA PATRICK – No. 10 Delta Dental Ford Fusion – WE UNDERSTAND THAT YOU HAVE SOME BIG NEWS TO SHARE WITH US TODAY? “This will be my last season as a full-time driver (crying). My sister said I wasn’t suppose to get emotional. I said I wouldn’t. But I’m grateful for all the opportunities. I’m thankful for Dale and Kelly and Bob Parsons from GoDaddy for getting me into NASCAR. Thank you to Tony and Gene. I have something really exciting to tell you (laughs). I just think that sometimes in your life…I’m not feeling like I was pushed into this…I feel like I should be doing this. I feel like this is where my life should be headed. And sometimes we just get kind of nudged there. Sometimes it’s big nudges and sometimes it’s little. But I definitely I was faced with situations at the beginning of the year that I had never faced before. I had never had sponsor issues. It made me think about things and so I’m excited about the next phase. Trust me. I’m just seeing 100 of you (media). Thank you to my Mom and Dad. My sister, Chase, Ricky. Thank you for everythings…Haley, Allison, Ronny. I feel like I need to turn my chair, clear this shit up, turn back around and tell you what I want to tell you that I’m really excited about. But I’m not totally done. I’m going to do the Daytona 500 next year and the Indy 500. So. I’m really excited about that. I think it’s going to be a great way to cap it off.”


HAVE YOU DECIDED WHICH TEAMS? “We are…this is not the first time that I’ve thought of this. I didn’t decide yesterday and then come decide to tell you all. We’re down the line with different facets of moving forward but nothing is final yet. Hopefully it will be soon. Things are definitely not set.”


YOU’RE NOT GOING AWAY. HOW DO WHAT TO BE REMEMBERED DURING YOUR FULL-TIME CAREER. “What I’ve always wanted is to just be remembered as a great driver, then remembered as a girl. I don’t care if your remember me as a girl. Of course I am, it’s obvious. But to be remembered as a great driver. That’s it.”


WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO DO THE INDY 500? “I never thought I would do it. I really didn’t. I always thought in my head never but I never said never because I know better. Thank God, right? Here I am. It was really a conversation with my agent Allen. I’m sorry that I left you out of my thank you. It’s just a little bit of a mess. We ran through so many different ideas. Different teams. Different scenarios. Just do these races. Just do this race. I have been much more in flow with it. Like I have not poked and prodded and asked many questions. I wanted this to all just unfold naturally and what was going to be was going to be. As I said to many of you years ago, if it’s not going to get better I don’t want to do it because it’s not fun. Here I am. It’s not fun. My urgency to push to keep doing everything is just not really there. So if something really enticing didn’t come up I wasn’t going to push for something else. I don’t like to run people down the pier if I don’t mean it. So, he called and said,’What about finishing up at Daytona?’ I don’t know where it came from but then out of my mouth came, ‘What about Indy?’ I don’t even know what I said it necessarily but it was really the first idea that got me really excited. That was it. He said, ‘I would love for you to do both.’ And I was like, ‘Well let’s do it!’ And then I called Haley and said, ‘What did I just say that I would do? Do you think this is a good idea?’ And she said, ‘Hell yes I think that’s a good idea!’ And that was it. I’m still surprised. So that’s how it came about. It came from my heart and I think it’s going to be awesome.”


WAS THERE AN OPTION FOR YOU TO DO SOME MEDIA? WHAT ABOUT THIS DECISION WAS HARD? “The difficulty is that it’s super competitive. I mean, it’s twice the field of Indy cars. It’s 40 cars instead of 20, basically. The cars make a big difference. I feel like there’s a lot out of your control as a driver and that’s frustrating. I tried every approach I could to figure it out how to make the car go fast. Do I push people? Do I let them do their job? Do I question them? Do I ask for other things? I tried every approach. Alls that ended up happening is that I lost my crew chief around with Tony Gibson and I didn’t end up wanting that to happen. So I was like, shoot, nothing really works. So here I am. I tried every different route and it just didn’t go as I hoped. Just a lot of things out of your control as a driver.”


WHAT ABOUT TV OR MEDIA? “TV or media. Well, I haven’t gone down that road because I knew that was….not really…I think we’ve heard I could do TV. Right now, no. Never say never. But that really doesn’t interest me. It’s a really wide and deep schedule as you know and that means that you have to do a lot of it. And then you have to do meetings and prepare and it’s a lot of work in itself. I admire everyone that’s said yes to that job because I think it’s valuable. I really love that drivers are going into that role because it creates a lot of authenticity from the booth about what’s happening on the race track. So I’m glad for the drivers. Obviously with Letarte, that’s great information up there. I think it’s good that they do it. But not right now for me.”


DO YOU ANTICIPATE GETTING BACK INTO AND INDYCAR WILL BE LIKE RIDING A BIKE? “Yeah…you said bicycle and I’m like, ‘It’s just going to be like riding a bike going 240. It won’t be a problem. Speed wobbles and all, right? (smiles). I think it will take a little bit of adjusting. It’s different for sure. I don’t feel like today that I’m a worse driver that I was when I drove Indy cars. Hopefully I’m a better driver. It will take a little bit of acclimating but I think we’ll cross that bridge when we get a little bit closer. Hopefully there is a fair amount time before that. I would like to get into a car before I get to Indy. I even wondered do I have to do rookie orientation again? I think you  I have to do a day or something? I definitely have a level of fear and nervousness about it. Just a little bit because it’s been so long. I believe that I will catch on and remember quickly.”


ARE DAYTONA AND INDY GOING TO BE IT? YOU ALWAYS SAY, ‘NEVER SAY NEVER’. “You kind of answered your own question. I never say never but that is my plan. After Indy that’s the end.”




HOW DO YOU FEEL LIKE: “I think I just said it. Some of them are great. I think that every driver faces that. You have drivers that you like and get along with out there and some that you don’t like. Some of them overlap quite and bit and others are not the same. So I think there are drivers that I get along with just fine out there that other people have issues with. Ii think that’s across the board. There’s always that. I think that I deal with a little more struggle on a car to car basis then everyone. I took me a really long time to say that. I’ve never really felt different. If I can pass them I can pass them. With the stock cars the closing rates aren’t so quick so I think it kind of showed up more and more over time in stock cars because you can be more defensive a little bit than in a an Indy car when you just drive around them and get a really big run. Runs there are just much different.”


TO CLARIFY, JUST THOSE TWO RACES (DAYTONA 500 AND INDY 500?) “Yes sir. Just those two.” WOULD YOU WANT TO RUN FOR THE SAME TEAM IN BOTH OF THOSE TWO RACES? “That’s an option I suppose but it doesn’t have to be. I think that when we’re talking about Daytona, it is what it is. There’s a lot of luck involved. To some degree that doesn’t seem as critical. In IndyCar I think that it’s a little more but I think there are probably a little bit more options as well. A little bit more flexibility there. I think it would make it easier but I don’t think that it’s an absolute necessary.”

SO YOU’RE LOOKING AT A FEW CUP TEAM? “Right. That’s not my job though. Again, there are conversations going on but nothing is final right now.”

Greg Engle
About Greg Engle 7421 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 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.