While the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams are at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway this weekend for Sunday’s Axalta presents the Pocono 400, Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 Aspen Dental Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), will be one of several drivers looking to make history.
On Saturday, Patrick will be joined by seven of her NASCAR Cup Series peers for the FOX broadcast of the NASCAR Xfinity Series race. In what is believed to be an unprecedented move in national sports broadcasting, Saturday’s Xfinity race will be called entirely by active NASCAR Cup Series drivers, including Patrick’s SHR teammates Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer. The race broadcast is thought to be the first time a nationally televised live sporting event has featured an on-air team comprised strictly of athletes actively competing in that sport.
Patrick is also believed to have been the first woman to serve as an analyst during a NASCAR television race when she joined the FOX Sports team in the broadcast booth for the Xfinity Series race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn in June 2015. She also served in that capacity for last year’s Xfinity Series race at Pocono.
This weekend, she will join fellow NASCAR Cup Series driver Denny Hamlin to co-host FOX race coverage from the Hollywood Hotel mobile studio. The race coverage will air live on FOX at 1 p.m. EDT on Saturday.
The next day, Patrick will get behind the wheel of the No. 10 Aspen Dental Ford for the Pocono 400. The race will mark her ninth start at the 2.5-mile track nicknamed the “Tricky Triangle” due to its unique triangular layout that was designed by two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Rodger Ward. Patrick’s best finish at Pocono is a 16th-place effort earned in August 2015.
Fresh off of a top-10 result at Dover (Del.) International Speedway, Patrick and the No. 10 Aspen Dental Ford team will be ready to score another top-10 finish at Pocono on Sunday after she helps make history Saturday in the FOX broadcast booth.
DANICA PATRICK, Driver of the No. 10 Aspen Dental Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:
What are your overall thoughts on Pocono?
“It’s a neat place, definitely a unique track. It’s still a place where I don’t have a ton of experience. It’s just an odd place to set the car up because the corners are so different. If you are really good in turn one, then maybe two and three are a little off. Or if you’re good in three, maybe one and two are different. I will say that the straightaway is enormous. There’s a lot of distance between turns three and one.”
Which of the three turns at Pocono is your favorite? Which is most challenging?
“My favorite corner at Pocono is honestly – it’s probably – turn one. You can make up a lot of ground if you’re good through there. It comes into a pretty good compression and you can drive off, down into the corner. If the car turns pretty well, you can pick up the throttle really hard. And while I like turn one, the most important corner is probably turn three, leading onto the front straightaway.”
Talk about the tunnel turn at Pocono and what makes it so tough.
“Well, the tunnel turn at Pocono is pretty flat. I think that’s really one of the big things that makes it so challenging. You need to carry a lot of speed and there’s not a lot of lifting that goes on. It’s flat, so I feel like that makes it harder and it really emphasizes issues with the car. And then, when there’s not banking to push the car into the track, then it’s really up to the driver to make sure you set the car right with the throttle, brake, and how you turn into the corner. All of those things make the tunnel turn tricky.”
Talk about taking part in the all-driver broadcast of Saturday’s Xfinity race broadcast on FOX.
“I think it is a great opportunity and a great idea. I think it will draw a lot of attention and perhaps revolutionize TV a little bit with sports in terms of who’s included and how they are. I think there’s nothing better than putting people in position who are the most current and aware of what’s going on. And then, on top of that, personalities who are prepared to give their honest opinion, as well. I think it’s going to be really cool. I’m up for the challenge.”
Are you looking forward to the Pocono Xfinity race broadcast on Saturday?
“I think the all-driver Pocono Xfinity broadcast is going to be cool and funny. I think it’s actually OK if there are a bunch of goof-ups. I think that’s probably what’s going to make it interesting. Basically, as long as I don’t say, ‘Boom goes the dynamite,’ at any point in time, it will be OK.”
Do you have a prediction of who will be best and who will be worst on the broadcast?
“I have no idea. Kevin (Harvick) definitely has the most experience, and then pit road has a lot of youth but a lot of knowledge of just the cars in general.”