Chevy Racing–NASCAR–Daytona Media Day–Danica Patrick

FEBRUARY 14, 2018

DANICA PATRICK, NO. 7 GODADDY CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1, met with members of the media at Daytona 500 Media Day. Full Transcript:

(No microphone.)
“That’s part of why I’m running here. That’s part of why the last race in a Cup car is at Daytona. Not only is it the biggest race of the year, it’s wide open from a performance standpoint. It’s exciting. Anything can happen.”

Doesn’t it seem like just a few years ago you got here?
“No (laughter). I mean, I feel like I’ve been here a long time. This is the start of my 27th year of racing. It all gets a little bit blurry. Kind of like the mile-and-a-half’s, they all get a little bit blurry. I’m like, Where am I at, until I get inside and get in the car.

“I feel, like, I’ve had two full careers, two fairly full careers, in IndyCar and in NASCAR. Yeah, no, it doesn’t feel like it just happened.”

The year you were on the pole…
“Seems like a long time ago. It does. You didn’t have to live out every single weekend with me. You didn’t live out every frustration I had, every disappointment, every accident. You didn’t.

“You know, to some degree, that’s part of what put me where I’m at today. I said a couple years ago, If it doesn’t go better, I’m not going to do this. I’m not here to fill the field. I’m not one of those athletes that will ever answer a question, I’m just glad to be here. That’s not why I show up. I show up to compete.”

What are you going to miss most, though?
“I don’t know. I think that’s an interesting question for me in another year. Like, what do I miss most.

“But I think that I’ll miss some of the people, and I think that I’ll miss some of the highs, of course, the good weekends. I’ll miss maybe that competition element of things.

“I don’t really know. I’ve raced since I was 10, so I don’t know.”

What is your approach for the Duels?
“Turns out I didn’t even have to race, period. Do you know how much time and effort was spent making sure I had a charter so this is not a disaster on some unfortunate level?

“I talked to Tony last night about that for little while. I was like, Man, what are we going to do? How are we going to run this? We want to keep our primary.

“There’s no guarantees. When we drop the green flag, we’re all racing. Something can happen in turn one of the Duel. It can happen. There’s no guarantee.

“How am I going to run it? I’m going to run it. If it seems like it’s getting a little crazy, I can bow out for a little bit. You can be a driver that doesn’t contribute to the chaos. If it seems like it’s getting a little bit out of control, kind of hairy, I could just drop back a little bit. If it’s not, then race and see what it does. It could just as easily go great.”

Does it add anything extra for you, that you have your own brands all over your fire suit, your car?
“I remember thinking to myself in the beginning when I said I was going to do these two races, I remember thinking to myself, Shoot, I’ll sponsor myself. Here I am, partially. Go Daddy coming onboard was the dream situation. But then to also have my companies on the car, too, is like ironic and cool. It helps you recognize the power of the sport, the recognizability of what gets put out there and how much gets put out there.

“It’s cool to see, but it also is actually, I mean, they’re on the car because there’s space, but it’s actually a great example of how well Go Daddy fits with me now. I mean, when we talked last year at the end of the year, it was, like, Do we fit brand-wise?

“Oh, my God, completely.

“They’re all about building a small business, side hustle. That’s all I’ve got, a whole bunch of side hustle that I’m trying to make real. It actually suits the paint scheme and everything perfectly, and the story.”

You have friends that are drivers. Will you stay in touch?
“I feel like I’ll be just like any other fan that has a life. I’m going to watch all of them that I can. If I’m busy doing something, maybe I won’t see it. I think I’ll always look at the results. I’ll always want to know how it went.

“I imagine as time goes by, I’ll forget more and more often to maybe check the results if I didn’t see it. The big ones, you make plans, you make plans to watch the Daytona 500, you make plans to watch the big ones.

“I don’t know. Is that how you guys do it? How do you be a fan? Dang it, nobody is a fan here? Take it for granted, huh? Imagine being gone. How would that feel? Don’t know. That’s what you’re asking me. I don’t know.”

Have you spoken with other competitors that you may not see again?
“There’s some drivers for sure. I mean, we have all spent a lot of time together, all of us. Like, I mean, journalists. There’s so many people today that I’ve done an interview with. I hug them, I’m like, See ya. It’s been so nice to spend time, to get to know you.

“I’ve always prioritized media because it’s powerful. You guys have a powerful tool. So for me it’s not a one-way street of just my way or the highway, it’s a two-way street. We work with each other. There’s a lot of people on the media side actually that I feel like I’ll miss.

“Sometimes you’re like my psychiatrists. You don’t think about certain things. It’s just your life happening. But when you’re asked about it, you have to give perspective on something, it’s quite therapeutic actually. It is. Thanks a lot. I appreciate it.”

Your experiences in the draft when you started, what have you learned from that process?
“I actually don’t think I was doing too bad of a job from the beginning. I think there have been times where I’ve tried to be more aggressive, and it doesn’t always serve me very well. So I think that having patience, being dedicated, being consistent on a line can pay off.

“At the end, if you’re a good car, people want to go with you. If you’re fast, they want to be there. Yeah, I mean, there’s a handful of drivers that when we pull out of line, they follow them. For the rest of us, it’s a matter of being smart and strategic and planning for more of the race than 20 laps, that’s for sure.

How accommodating has Jay Robinson been for you?
“Great. I mean, Jay and Tommy and Tony, the owners to the crew chief, it came together. See, this is a thing that I’ve learned. When stuff is not going well, not going together, sometimes you just have to let it go and move on.

“This is one of the things that when things weren’t coming together, I moved on. Then this happened. It was like boom, boom, boom, quick, done. Tony was in to be my crew chief from moment one. The deal was done very, very quickly. It was like, This is what’s meant to be. My old car number. It all came together well.

“At the end of the day having someone knows what they’re doing with the car is a critical element. But Jay has been great.”

(No microphone.)
“Not even a single letter. What is that from? Anybody know? Do y’all watch movies? No ‘regrets’, not even a single letter. We Are The Millers. He has ‘no regrets’ on his chest.
I’m not one of those people that looks back on anything and says, I wish this would have been different. I am happy with where I am now. Perhaps everything would be different if one thing was different at any point. I’m a very big believer in the butterfly effect, the chain of events being different from something being different.

“No, everything is going perfect.

What do you see yourself doing next year?
“Yeah, next year will just hopefully be my brand is built up. I imagine myself traveling, vacations, knocking stuff off of a bucket list of things I want to do, yeah, building the other brands up.”

Would you ever consider a mentor role? If a driver came to you and said, I need help, would you consider doing it?
“No, that’s not really something that interests me. I don’t really think I’m a great coach. I have a tough love. You should see me in the gym. Nobody wants to work out with me because I no rep everybody.
I’ve never seen that for myself. Part of what I want to do is get away from the schedule. There’s other things that I want to do. But never say never. You never know what kind of transitions your life will take. I always go back to, I never thought I would do the Indy 500 again, but look at me now.”

You talked the other day about how you wish you had run the Clash, shake it out a little bit. Have you talked to any drivers who ran that race, what they’ve experienced?
“Yeah, I asked a little bit. The straightaways are a little bit more unpredictable now with the ride height rule being gone. That will have to play into your setup a little bit. It’s going to be interesting. It will be interesting to see if we spread out at all. If it’s hot out, slippery, might happen.”

You said even without Go Daddy, you would have sponsored the car yourself. Were you serious?
“You heard that? Dang it.
“I literally thought to myself, I’m going to do this. The power of NASCAR, advertising, the platform is big. I’ve got other companies that need some publicity. I mean, it crossed my mind. It didn’t have to happen. It probably was not really going to happen. But, sure, I’d have done that, yeah.”

(Question about the fire suit.)
“What am I going to do with it? I don’t know. Put it in storage. But make sure it’s marked with the rest of them. We have a lot of helmets and suits. I don’t give them away, I just don’t. For me, they’re really important, prized pieces that for me are going to be something I think goes into my life after for charities and auctions and things like that, where you really want important pieces. We’ve been collecting a long time.”

Have to be a pretty big charity.
“Yeah, maybe some don’t get into a charity. Maybe perhaps like this one and Indy’s helmet probably won’t.”

When do you start switching gears in your mind, getting up to speed for Indy?
“Actually, I didn’t have time to meet up with Ed and the people. Did I just say that out loud? Oh, well.”

We already kind of knew.
“I’ve never done that in my career.”

When will you start to find out with the new car? You never drove the DW12.
“No. It’s more downforce than when I raced. It’s less than they had before, but it’s more than what I had when I raced.”

How will that suit you?
“I don’t know. I think well. I think I’ve always done well with downforce. I better shut up and leave. I’m going to be in trouble.”

There’s going to be a lot of NASCAR people still interested in you for the Indy 500. Does it mean a lot to you?
“Of course, it always means a lot. It’s always flattering.”

What kind of impact do you think you’ve had on racing?
“I think it’s a little easier from the observer standpoint than from my standpoint. I’m just doing what I do.”

I talked to retired drivers who can’t stand to be at a racetrack if they’re not in a car, some who can’t stand to be away from the track at all. Can you look ahead and see which direction you might be?
“Being at the track when I’m not racing doesn’t drive me crazy, but it’s not fun. There you go.”