NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
CHARLOTTE MOTOR SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
MAY 16, 2014
DANICA PATRICK, NO. 10 GODADDY CARES CHEVROLET SS met with media and discussed her performance last week at Kansas, the upcoming 600 race next weekend and more. Full Transcript:
HOW DOES YOUR 7TH PLACE FINISH AT KANSAS GIVE YOU MOMENTUM FOR THIS WEEKEND?
“We’re just doing our best as a team to take the positive from Kansas. Sure, emotionally, but really set-up wise and things like that we think will translate and carry those one. I think that’s a good part about doing well is it gives some confidence but it also helps show what stuff works out there. Your car has to be right. You have to qualify well. You have to run strong. You have to make good calls. It all has to get put together. The car is just one part of it.”
TALK ABOUT YOUR NEW PUPPY
‘It was a pretty magical weekend. It was a good night on Saturday night (at Kansas) and then on Mother’s Day I picked up my dog; or our dog I should say. We got a little girl miniature Siberian Husky. Her name is Dallas. She’s really cute. I’m itching my face because she licked it and it itches. So, I just came from seeing her. As I walked away, Ricky (Stenhouse Jr.) was holding her and I’m like see babe, you have a little bit of a bad day and you come back and it’s just a little better when you have a little dog to go play with and that will lay with you. She’s been a lot of fun. But she definitely acts like a baby. She wakes up all the time. She poops on the floor, she goes to the bathroom all the time. She’s due for more shots next week, you know, all that stuff.”
ONE THING ABOUT A DOG: IT NEVER HAS A BAD DAY
“No, no. No they don’t. Not if you show some love to them. It’s always good because in this cruel sport of racing very rarely are you on Cloud 9. It’s nice to come home to that.”
HOW MUCH CONFIDENCE, IF ANY, DID YOU GET FROM KANSAS? IS THAT SOMETHING YOU KNEW YOU HAD IN YOU AND THAT YOU COULD DO, OR WAS THAT SOMETHING THAT YOU LEFT THERE LIKE ON CLOUD 9?
“Honestly, I really believe I can do that. I don’t think I would be where I am today without the confidence that I can. At this point in time, after where I’ve been and where I’ve run, it was a little bit of a surprise. But I guess if things had been going well, progressively, from the beginning, these are the kind of races that I would have hoped to have every now and again starting now. But, obviously it hasn’t been nearly that good yet. But that’s really an example of putting a whole weekend together; everything from getting help from my teammates to qualifying well, making good race calls, making good decisions on the car before the race, using our teammates and all the information we have to do that and building a really great new car. You have to have everything together to be able to run up front in the Cup Series. It’s just so hard. So, I’m very proud of everyone for putting it all together and doing a great job.”
THE ALL-STAR RACE HAS A HISTORY. RUSTY AND DW IN ’89, KYLE PETTY AND DAVEY ALLISON IN ’92; CRAZY FINISHES IN THE END WHERE DRIVERS DO THINGS THEY MIGHT NOT ORDINARILY DO. WITH A MILLION DOLLARS ON THE LINE, ASSUMING YOU RACE IN, ON SATURDAY NIGHT, WHAT WOULD YOU BE WILLING TO DO FOR THAT MONEY?
“When you’re in the car, you’re not thinking about the fact that I need to pass for a million dollars. If it was about money, I don’t think that would be enough for any of us. It’s about heart and it’s about doing your best and it’s about making the most of the night. So, that’s what’s running through your head is passing the car in front of you. Now, more than anything since it’s not really about money more than anything; it’s just a one-off race, so the results don’t necessarily matter unless you win, so you might as well go for it. For me, that’s what my attitude is toward it. Now if you win a million dollars, that’s great. But if you win the race, you probably already have a million dollars. So, it’s icing on the cake. Now if it was like $5 million, it might make you think. I’ll pass for $5 million.”
WHAT WORKED SO WELL AT KANSAS? DID THE CAR JUST GO WHEREVER YOU PUT IT? WERE YOU JUST MORE DARING?
“It’s something that happens two-fold. I think when the car is good, you can be more daring because it’s not going to step out on you and you trust it and you know what it’s going to do. When things aren’t as good on track and the car doesn’t feel as good, then it’s a lot harder to be more brave because there is a higher likelihood that it’s not going to end well. So, for me, the big difference was that it was really good on restarts. It was really stuck in traffic. And it was really good in the long run. I never noticed a lack of grip at any point. For me that was what I noticed last weekend above any other weekend was the consistency of it. That’s what allowed me to be able to have great restarts, or definitely not really lose a lot, which has been qualifying I would say. And restarts are a place where it comes up that I need to work on it and it’s true. Yes, that is the case, but I think last weekend, you see what can happen when the car is right and that gives me the confidence to do more. And I think that as time goes on and you get more seasoned as a driver, you can overcome some of that, for sure. But it’s still got to be good.”
SOME DRIVERS TALK ABOUT THE DAY THE LIGHT WENT ON AND THAT THEY SORT OF GOT WHAT’S GOING ON OUT THERE. WAS THERE ANY OF THAT ASPECT TO IT FOR YOU AT KANSAS? DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU’VE TURNED A CORNER WITH THAT PERFORMANCE?
“No. It was a good weekend. I feel like I’m feeling the car better and better, but I don’t think it was a light switch for me. It was just a weekend that so many good things happened in the race and we ran with such good cars and passed such good cars that for me it gives me confidence, for sure. Like I said, I’ve always believed I can do that but when you’re head-to-head with guys like Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson and Dale Jr.’ when you’re head-to-head with those guys then it’s another story on it’s own. I think that if we keep doing what we’re doing and keep our heads down and not get flustered; not every single weekend is going to be like that for anyone. But we’ll have more of those, for sure.”
IN LOOKING AHEAD TO THE COCA-COLA 600, HOW DO YOU MENTALLY AND PHYSICALLY PREPARE YOURSELF FOR THAT RACE WITH IT BEING SO LONG?
“Oh, what’s another 100 miles on top of 500? It really doesn’t seem that long. I did it the last two years, right? Last year seemed pretty quick. Mind you, I did get crashed. A lot of it has to do with how you’re doing and how the car is; what’s happening on track, are you actually racing people throughout the race? I always felt like Darlington was the longest race in the whole world. It felt like 800 miles to me. But for some reason this year it went quick. So, actually, I just think it has to do with how your race is going. Another 100 miles, if you’re running well, is going to help; if not, then it’s not. Other than that, it’s just another long race and we have a lot of them.”
IS THERE LESS GRIP HERE THAN IN KANSAS? DOES THE CHALLENGE RESUME HERE AT CHARLOTTE? ALSO, MARK MARTIN IS BACK. HAVE YOU HAD MUCH CONVERSATION WITH HIM?
“Yeah, the grip level at Kansas is higher, but they also give you a harder tire. It’s not as though they are worlds apart, but there is less grip here. And the track is rougher and seems to wear the tires out a little bit more. So there is a little bit more of a difference in getting to the end of a run. And yeah, Mark is back. I walked into the hauler this morning and saw him. He’s been not feeling so great throughout the beginning of the year and was intending to be around every weekend or most weekends, to sort of
help out and fast-forward the learning curve and play a part as much as he could to help with that. It’s good to see him. He’s obviously great around here so it’s nice for him to come to this one (race). It’s nice to have one more driver on my side who has a ton of experience that can help me; especially on e that’s not in the car that can see everything that’s going on and hear it. Every little bit helps. I’m never mad when someone has a suggestion or something they think will help me. I’ll always try it. And sometimes they are just nice little reminders every now and again about getting down to the line or trying high. I mean you kind of get in such a rhythm of trying to make the most out of what you think is best that you think you need to step out. Sometimes it’s just simple little reminders that are nice.”
REGARDING YOUR RECENT SUCCESS IN KNOCK-OUT QUALIFYING AND IF THAT MOMENTUM CAN HELP YOU TODAY IN THE SHOWDOWN QUALIFYING FORMAT
“It’s definitely better. It’s obviously something that I needed to work on but you still have to have a good car and the first top-10 was at Martinsville. We saw how I ran that day, and I was absolutely terrible that day. It’s not everything, but it definitely helps. I would venture to say that when knock-out qualifying happens and we all get done with our first run, there are a heck of a lot more times that I have been in the top-15. Most of the time when I finally get things going in knock-out qualifying, then it’s like last weekend everybody goes out again and goes faster. So, no, it’s like I said at the beginning of the year; it all evens out in the end. There are times when you find speed, and you make something happen and you get in. Then there are times that you get in on a good time and you go out and you go from being 11th overall in first round and then you are 24th – and that sucked. So if it’s more interesting for the fans, then that is the most important thing for our sport because we are fan-driven so much. We have to keep them entertained for sure, keep them watching and interesting. At the end of the day it’s just racing, driving as fast as you can, and more of it.”
DID THE KANSAS FINISH LAST WEEK CHANGE YOUR CONFIDENCE IN YOUR 1.5 MILE PROGRAM, OR OVERALL?
“Weekends like that are just good signs. They show hard work by everybody and they make you excited to do it more. So I think the optimism level goes up because you are riding high and you want to keep doing that. I think we have to keep our expectation levels in check a little bit and make sure we don’t just expect to go out there and run in the top-five or top-ten every time now. We have to remember that there is a process to it and we skipped over top-15s and went straight to top-10s. Shoot we pretty much skipped over top-20s and didn’t have many of those either. We have to keep improving and have to keep getting in the thick of the good drivers and move up like that. It definitely gives confidence, it’s definitely a good sign, and definitely good to have those races. We just hope to have them more often.”
REGARDING THE FAN VOTE AND IF THAT GIVES YOU CONFIDENCE IN THE RACE
“I was very fortunate to win the Sprint Fan Vote last year and it was great, great racing and practice. It was a good challenge for me before the Coke 600, which we were having a pretty good race in the Coke 600
and it definitely helped. What can I say? I am just really fortunate. My fans are awesome, there are so many of them that defend me and support me to the bitter end. It’s cool that they can play a part in my racing career, and that is what they do. For them to be able to use their voice or their fingers to vote for me, get me more track time, and help me be better – that is playing a part. So, I am really fortunate for that. And hopefully that happens; and if not, then not. Definitely every driver wants to race their way in and not even have to think about the fan vote, and that is my plan tonight.”
NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES