Following the first off weekend of the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season, Danica Patrick and the No. 10 Mobil 1 Annual Protection Ford Fusion team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) head to Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway for Sunday’s Food City 500.
As Patrick enters the weekend with only one top-20 result to her credit thus far, she and the No. 10 Mobil 1 Annual Protection Ford team will be looking to revisit their past success in the annual spring race at the .533-mile oval.
While Patrick’s overall record at Bristol has proven how challenging it is to race there, her best finishes at the track have been in her first trip to the “Last Great Colosseum” each season. In Patrick’s nine NASCAR Cup Series starts at Bristol, her average finish is 23.7, while her average result in the spring race is 20.5. That average includes one top-10 finish and two top-20s.
In April 2014, Patrick earned an 18th-place finish in the Food City 500, which marked her first top-20 result at the short track.
The following spring, she started 26th and overcame a number of hurdles during the race to score a ninth-place finish. That effort marked the sixth top-10 of her career and set the record for the most top-10 finishes by a female in NASCAR Cup Series competition.
When Patrick gets to Bristol this weekend, her No. 10 Ford will sport the colors of Mobil 1 Annual Protection, which is part of ExxonMobil’s new high-performance, low-environmental-impact product line that provides exceptional performance benefits and convenience. Mobil 1 Annual Protection helps to safely reduce the amount of used oil generated through regular oil changes. More than 2 billion quarts of oil would be saved each year if every driver in the United States switched to Mobil 1 Annual Protection.
With a fresh new Mobil 1 Annual Protection paint scheme, Patrick and the No. 10 team will be ready to “spring” into action at Bristol and try to score another top-20 result.
DANICA PATRICK, Driver of the No. 10 Mobil 1 Annual Protection Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:
What are your overall thoughts heading into Bristol?
“I’ve liked Bristol since I went there the first time. I remember when I set foot onto that track – it was the day before, it was load-in day and I looked out there and you’re standing on the straightaway, but it sure seems like a corner. It’s a very cool track and a spectacle for the fans. I feel like that is always the one that everyone says, ‘I want to come see a Bristol race.’ It’s always entertaining there for the fans and, hopefully, we can put on another good show for them this weekend.”
How aggressive do you have to be?
“Every single one of us is going to go as absolutely hard as possible. There’s never a plan to back off or go easy or anything like that, other than if you are saving fuel out there on a strategy at the end of the race. You always go as fast as you can, all the time.”
There’s always a lot of beating and banging on short tracks. What’s acceptable and what isn’t?
“Well, I believe that, on a short track – any track – that you need to get next to them. I mean, I think you have to be able to get runs and get inside. Now, if they cut you off more than once or twice, then you start just putting a bumper to them and taking the air off the spoiler and you just have to make them understand that you know you’ve been patient and that you aren’t going to be patient anymore.”
How grueling is 500 laps at Bristol?
“It’s fine. I think it is a little daunting to say 500 laps, but there are a lot of times we do 500 laps, or 500 miles, and this is just one of them. I feel like, no matter what happens – whether it’s a 400-mile race or a 500-lap race – you find your rhythm. Time goes by fast sometimes, and then sometimes it’s slow. All I hope is the car has a good balance because, when it doesn’t, that’s when the laps seem wrong. If we can just get into a rhythm, find ourselves in a good spot and have a consistent car throughout the race, then the time does go pretty quickly, usually.”
Fans come to Bristol and typically expect a lot of beating and banging. Do you like that kind of racing?
“Yes, I enjoy it. I mean, I don’t mind some beating and banging out there. I don’t mind pushing your way around a little bit. It just happens. It’s just the nature of short tracks when you’re running really close to one another. You put 40 cars out on a track the size of Bristol and you’re filling up a lot of the track. The short tracks are conducive to close racing since aerodynamics don’t come into play quite as much.”