Ford Performance NASCAR: Danica Patrick Transcript

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Food City 500 Advance – Bristol Motor Speedway

Friday, April 21, 2017

Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 Mobil 1 Annual Protection Ford Fusion, spoke to the media before today’s scheduled practice session at Bristol Motor Speedway and talked about a variety of topics.

DANICA PATRICK – No. 10 Mobil 1 Annual Protection Ford Fusion – ARE THERE GUYS IN OTHER SERIES THAT YOU THINK COULD MOVE THE NEEDLE IN NASCAR AND WHY IS IT SO DIFFICULT FOR THAT TRANSITION TO HAPPEN BECAUSE IT’S BEEN HIT OR MISS?  “I’ve thought about it lately as in I feel like with Indy cars you could show up with a car if you are equipped to build and make a nice car, then you could be competitive.  But in NASCAR I don’t see that being even possible for someone to just show up with a car.  There’s too much evolution of the tricks and bells and whistles and all the things it takes to be fast in stock car racing that you wouldn’t know, so, yeah, I think that for a driver to show up, they could because they could go race for a team, but for a team to just show up, I think that’s what’s impossible in NASCAR, unless you have a lot of infrastructure behind you with an experienced team.  It’s just hard.  Stock car racing is hard, but it’s also as in being a driver it’s tough, but it’s also really hard from a lot of other perspectives.  It’s about having all your ducks in a row.  You’ve got to have the right people, the right effort, the right belief, the right everything, luck on your side.  The stars have to align in NASCAR.”

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE CHALLENGES OF BRISTOL?  “I feel like Bristol is a very cool track.  I like Bristol.  I’ve had fun and I’ve not had fun here, but I feel like it’s one of those tracks that really plays into people that have raced on dirt a lot of their life, just because you run up by the wall.  I think anytime you run by the wall, that is a comfort zone thing.  It’s not that I’m not comfortable up there, it’s just running three inches off the wall versus a foot-and-a-half are more my comfort zone – the foot-and-a-half.  I think slide jobs are what’s important.  It will be interesting to see how it plays out this weekend with the rain and the VHT getting laid on the bottom and stuff like that.  I like that we were able to run the bottom for a little bit, but having not a lot of green-flag track time in practice to rubber in the top lane, it will be interesting to see if it really, really comes in.  If you go to rubber it in in the race, you’re gonna lose spots.  It’ll be interesting to see how it all evolves, but slide jobs are something that pretty early in the race you’re doing a lot of because that’s the only way to pass.  You have to just kind of drive in on the bottom and slide up in front of them, so, again, that’s a dirt racing move.  Me coming from a traditional road course racing, pavement, grip perspective, places like Martinsville play into my strengths as a driver.  We’ll see how it goes.  I’ve had good races and bad races here.  I hope this is a good one.”

IS THERE ANY WAY TO GET BETTER AT THAT, EXCEPT FOR BEING ON THE TRACK ITSELF AND RACING MORE RACES HERE?  “Aside from becoming a dirt racer, which I’m not going to, it’s just about practice and experience and about getting a car underneath you that you feel comfortable with that you can do things.  I do it, it’s just that it’s not natural to me.  It’s something that not only do you have to get a little bit more comfortable at, but you also have to have a car underneath you that you know what it’s gonna do and it’s gonna do the right stuff to make it comfortable to drive in really hard as well as get up in front of somebody.”

HOW DO YOU ATTACK ALL OF THE UNCERTAINTY THIS WEEKEND PRESENTS?  “You look at what kind of practice time you have and really about the only thing you can decide is whether or not you’re going to do any qualifying runs.  I bet we won’t, so I’m betting we’ll get practice today and then maybe that will be it until the race.  I think we’ll just work on our race car and maybe running the bottom will be a little bit more important.  I know that in practice the last time I was here and many times that I’ve been here it gets a lot more comfortable the more you move up because you don’t have to turn the wheel on entry as much.  It’s normally a little bit loose here, so it’s something that can fix itself just with the racing line, but if we’re not gonna run up top a lot, or it’s gonna take a while to get there, then maybe there will be a little bit more emphasis on getting it comfortable to run the bottom.  The effort is always the same.  You try and go as fast as you can every single lap, no matter where you’re running, and then it’s a discussion as to how much to offset the car.  When there’s not a lot of rubber laid down, you know what’s gonna happen in the race, so anticipating that it’s gonna get a lot tighter in the race might be the deciding factor on what to do on the weekend.”

IS IT EMOTIONALLY DRAINING FOR YOU GUYS SUITING UP AND THEN SITTING IN THE BUS?  “It’s a little bit exhausting because you always kind of feel like you have to be somewhat ready, and NASCAR doesn’t always do the best job of giving us a lot of notice.  There have been many times that I’ve been in the bus in my pajamas and they’re like, ‘Green flag in 15 minutes.’  And I’m like, ‘What?  Did you not have any indication that this was coming 15 minutes ago?’  So that’s kind of the exhausting part is you have to be pretty ready, but hopefully NASCAR can do a little bit better job of giving us a little bit more than 15 minutes until green.”

YOU NEED A ONESIE THAT LOOKS LIKE YOUR RACING SUIT AND YOU’LL BE GOOD TO GO.  “I have one, but I don’t think it’s fire retardant.”

RICKY’S MOVE ON KYLE AT MARTINSVILLE OPENED UP SOME EYES IN STAGE ONE.  IS THERE MORE TO BE AWARE OF NOW NO MATTER WHERE YOU ARE ON THE TRACK?  “I feel like that’s part of the design of the structure is that it creates a need for something, a need to get that last spot for points, a need like in Ricky’s position to get back on the lead lap before the yellow.  I think that’s by design.  I’m always okay with aggressive driving when it’s for something.  If somebody does something like that with really nothing to gain, then that’s kind of where the frustrations come for us as drivers, but he got back on the lead lap and that changed his day.  I feel like that’s what the structure is for.”

DID THE WEEKEND OFF ALLOW YOU TO START PLANNING NEXT YEAR’S APRIL FOOL’S JOKE?  “I did a good job, didn’t I?  I feel like I did a really good job with April Fool’s.  I had my sister even wondering.  She’s like, ‘Seriously, this is not how I’m supposed to find out.’  But it was funny.  I’m not really much of a prankster, not much of a joker, but I was inspired and Ricky played right along.  It was the end of the day and I said, ‘Babe, I’ve got an idea for April Fool’s,’ and he goes, ‘Okay.’  It was funny.  I was hoping that most girls would have looked at that picture though and said, ‘That ring looks a little cloudy.’  He can do better than that.”

DID YOU PROMISE YOUR SISTER THAT WON’T BE THE WAY SHE FINDS OUT?  “Actually, it was a good experience in knowing that there is a whole different protocol for letting friends and family know and it’s not social media.  It might take a minute to get to social media based on that experience, but understandable.  We have been together for four-plus years, so I’m sure people would want to know.”

ARE YOU PUTTING ON PRESSURE?  “Oh, he knows that.”

IS RICHMOND’S SURFACE ONE THAT IS A LOT DIFFERENT WHEN RACING DURING THE NIGHT VERSUS THE DAY?  “I think day to night is something to talk about, but the same stuff happens on a smaller magnitude or a larger magnitude.  If you’re tight, you’re gonna get tighter.  If you’re loose, you’re gonna get looser.  As far as heat in the tires, I don’t feel like Goodyear ever gives us really anything to worry about there.  We’re driving around on hard tires, so I think it’s all the same, to be honest.  It’s just smaller and larger magnitudes of problems.”

IS THERE ANYTHING ABOUT THE DAYTONA TEST YOU TRIED THAT MIGHT WORK WELL DOWN THE ROAD?  “There wasn’t really anything racing-wise that moved the needle, but there were some things that were tried to make the cars lift off less easily if they get spun around backwards, so that was fine.  It didn’t really change anything, so I wouldn’t be surprised if those kind of changes were implemented for speedway racing, but, other than that, the racing was all very similar and like we all said, there are five of us.  You can go out in a pack of 15 and still not really know before the race and then you get into the race and then you know.  It’s pretty hard to really have a race-like scenario.  You don’t even want a race-like scenario at a superspeedway unless you’re actually racing because it’s risky.  There’s a chance for big accidents and that’s just silly in practice, but I think that it was still somewhat productive, as productive as a superspeedway test could go.”

THOUGHTS ON THE NEW SOFTER TIRE WHERE TEAMS MAY HAVE A CHOICE ON WHICH TIRE TO USE AND WHEN DURING THE RACE?  HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THAT?  “I did that in Indy car.  In Indy car we had the standards and the reds – blacks and reds – so I’ve been there to experience  that and for us you had to run two green-flag laps of each compound so it didn’t allow you to just put it under yellow, come back in again at the end and put another set of tires on, so there are a lot of things that go into it because there is probably going to be a better tire.  That’s how it happened in Indy car is the blacks were just harder.  They were okay, and then the reds were normally just better.  They lasted.  They were faster  They had more grip, so the tire that was meant to wear out and have a compromise at the end was really not.  There’s only one track we went to that did that to the tire, so there will be a better tire and everyone will want to run it more of the time.  You open up a can of worms.  The more rules you put in place, the more you have to have rules for the rules, so I think it’s important to keep it simple enough for a fan to tune in for the first time and feel like they have a grasp as to what’s going on.  We already have these stages and different points for it and to introduce different tires too, I don’t know.  I’m not against it, I’m just saying I think we need to be aware of making things more complicated than they need to be.”

WHAT IS THE MOOD BACK AT THE SHOP THESE DAYS?  “I haven’t been there in two weeks.  I don’t know.  It’s fine.  For the most part, we go in and we sit in a conference room for our meetings on Monday and there’s not a lot of people in the shop that day because it’s the Monday after the race.  Most people are in there on Tuesdays, so I don’t always see a ton of people, but you never feel like people aren’t working hard.  You always feel like there’s an effort, there’s a concern.  You’re always trying to figure out what to make you better.  I was in the simulator last week again and we’re trying to do whatever we can to learn about the car and go faster.  If there were answers to going faster, then we would have the answers.”



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 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.