After weeks of poor finishes, Danica Patrick and the No. 10 Aspen Dental Ford Fusion team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) travel to Dover (Del.) International Speedway hoping to have luck on their side for Sunday’s AAA 400 Drive for Autism race.
The track, completed in 1969, is a mile in length and features 24 degrees of banking in the corners and 9 degrees of banking on the straightaways. Known for being tough on both drivers and equipment, Dover was nicknamed the “Monster Mile” in the mid-1970s. And in 1995, Dover was resurfaced with concrete, making it one of just two completely concrete tracks on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series circuit, with Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway being the other.
Patrick and the No. 10 Aspen Dental Ford team enter the weekend at Dover on the heels of a string of poor finishes that have been out of their control. In the April event at Bristol, Patrick was sidelined after contact from another driver sent her car into the outside wall two-thirds of the way through the race and left her with a 36th-place finish. Two weeks later, Patrick was collected in an 18-car accident at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway that put her 38th in the final results. The following week, the No. 10 Ford was involved in a fiery accident at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City as a part failure on the No. 22 car resulted in contact with Patrick that sent her spinning into the wall. She went home with a 36th-place finish. Then, last weekend at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, Patrick ended up 25th after running over debris early in the race and suffering two cut, right-front tires in the later stages of the event.
After surviving all of that bad luck, Patrick heads to Dover, a track where she has nine NASCAR Cup Series starts under her belt. In that time, she’s earned two top-20 finishes, including a 13th-place result the team scored last May. That effort marked Patrick’s career-best finish at Dover.
In addition to her NASCAR Cup Series experience at Dover, Patrick has made three NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at the track, finishing a career-best 16th in the September 2012 race. Patrick also earned a sixth-place result in the 2010 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at Dover.
With a solid performance last spring, Patrick and the No. 10 Aspen Dental Ford team will be looking to turn their luck around in hopes of scoring yet another good result Sunday at the “Monster Mile.”
DANICA PATRICK, Driver of the No. 10 Aspen Dental Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:
How tough is Dover to drive?
“It can be a real challenge. It’s quite quick and, when you come off turns two and four, it drops you down like a roller coaster. You just have to have a good setup and make sure everything is working right or it can be a long day. It’s actually a pretty long race, so you have to be prepared. But it’s a fun track and I’m looking forward to it.”
What are your thoughts about Dover?
“I always like going to Dover. The track is pretty fun. I remember everyone telling me how unique and challenging Dover was prior to my first race. At the time, I didn’t have a whole lot to compare that track to. They said it was like a larger version of Bristol, but I hadn’t raced at Bristol yet, either. Dover is fun. It’s fast and it can make for a really long day of racing. I think that’s part of the appeal of it – how demanding it can be. We definitely want to stay out of trouble, which is easier said than done at these types of tracks.”