Danica Patrick and the No. 10 Code 3 Associates Ford Fusion team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) return to Kansas Speedway in Kansas City for Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race ready to rebound after back-to-back DNFs at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway and Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.
Two weeks ago, Patrick’s race was cut short with less than 75 laps to go as her No. 10 Ford was collected by another car as it spun down the track. Her car sustained significant damage and she was relegated to a 38th-place finish when the team was unable to make repairs. Last week at Talladega, Patrick ran inside the top-10 and was scored just outside the top-20 when a multicar accident on lap 172 caused significant damage to both the right front and the right rear of the No. 10 Ford. The team pitted multiple times for repairs but was unable to properly address the issues within the five-minute time limit imposed by NASCAR officials, thus ending Patrick’s day and relegating the team to a 21st-place finish.
After two weeks of disappointment, returning to Kansas couldn’t have come at a better time for Patrick and the No. 10 Code 3 Associates Ford team. Kansas Speedway is the site of Patrick’s first NASCAR Cup Series top-10 finish on a 1.5-mile track. She earned that result in May 2014, when she took the checkered flag seventh. It was one of seven top-10 finishes Patrick has scored thus far in her NASCAR Cup Series career.
All told, Patrick has competed in 10 NASCAR Cup Series races at Kansas. In that time, she has scored one top-10 and four top-20 finishes. In addition, in two NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at the track, she finished a career-best 10th in October 2012 and took home a 15th-place result in October 2011.
Patrick has also made six IndyCar Series starts at Kansas. In 2005, she qualified on the pole for the IndyCar race at the track. Her best finish was a fifth-place effort in 2009 and she scored a total of three top-10 finishes at the track in that series. Aside from a 19th-place finish due to a mechanical failure in 2008, Patrick didn’t finish outside the top-11 in IndyCar Series competition at Kansas.
After the races at Charlotte and Talladega, the No. 10 Code 3 Associates Ford team hopes a return to Kansas Speedway, where Patrick has run well in three major professional racing series, will result in on-track success in the form of a solid run in Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400.
DANICA PATRICK, Driver of the No. 10 Code 3 Associates Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:
What is the most difficult part of the track to figure out at Kansas?
“It’s a fast track. I think it’s the same problem we face at most tracks we go to – you have to get through the center well enough to be comfortable enough to be very aggressive with the throttle at the same time. I think, for sheer speed, you can’t be too loose but, in the race, you can’t be too tight or you’ll fall back. These cars are finicky. It’s about focusing on the small things and getting the most out of the car itself instead of trying to throw the kitchen sink at it if you’re a little off. It’s all in the little details. I think that’s the most important thing.”
On Saturday, you’re going to speak to a large contingent of Girl Scouts from the Kansas City area. What would be your advice to them?
“I would say: ‘Stay true to yourself and what you believe in.’ I think that’s how I’ve gotten to this point in my career and my life in general. I decided when I was 10 years old that I wanted to be a racecar driver. I dreamed big, believed in myself, worked really hard, took chances and made the most of every opportunity I was given.”