As the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Martinsville (Va.) Speedway for Sunday’s Martinsville 500, Danica Patrick and the No. 10 TaxAct Ford Fusion team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) will be looking to rekindle their past success at the .526-mile oval.
In March 2015, Patrick etched her name in the record books there by earning a seventh-place finish in the STP 500. The effort marked the fifth top-10 of her NASCAR Cup Series career. It also tied Patrick with Janet Guthrie for the most top-10 NASCAR Cup Series finishes by a female driver. A few weeks later, Patrick earned another top-10 result at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway and was able to take sole ownership of that record.
For Patrick, it wasn’t the first time she’d made history at Martinsville. In April 2013, she became the first female driver to compete in a NASCAR Cup Series race at the track, which first opened in 1949.
In her first start at the short track, Patrick surprised many NASCAR observers with a solid 12th-place result – made more impressive by the fact she started 43rd after an engine change before the race. She looked like a veteran on the shortest track on the circuit which, when viewed from the air, looks like a paperclip as its long straightaways lead into tight, flat turns.
Her impressive rookie performance bested those of other name drivers in their Martinsville debuts, most notably her team owner Tony Stewart, who finished 20th in his first Martinsville start in 1999. Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson finished 35th in his Martinsville debut in 2002. NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace finished 15th in 1984. Dale Jarrett finished 14th in 1984. Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 26th in 2000. Kyle Busch finished 39th in 2005. Matt Kenseth finished 21st in 2000. And her SHR teammate Kurt Busch finished 37th in 2000.
All-told, in eight NASCAR Cup Series starts at Martinsville, Patrick has earned one top-10 finish and four top-20s. Last year, she started 28th, ran as high as seventh and finished 16th after battling handling issues in the Martinsville 500.
As we enter the final weeks of the tax filing season, TaxAct, the leading provider of clear, transparent and affordably priced tax preparation software for DIY filers, will serve as primary sponsor of Patrick’s No. 10 Ford Fusion in Sunday’s race. The event marks the third of four events in which TaxAct, the official tax preparation software partner of SHR and Patrick, will serve as the primary sponsor of the No. 10 Ford Fusion this year.
TaxAct is once again offering its “Premium Finish” promotion this tax season. If Patrick or any member of the SHR team secures a top-10 finish in Sunday’s race at Martinsville, NASCAR fans can file their 2016 federal and state tax returns using the TaxAct Online Premium Bundle for only $10 – currently priced at $85. This gives filers access to the federal and state forms needed to complete their TaxAct Online return no matter how complex their tax situation, all in, for $10 – offer and pricing subject to change.
If an SHR driver does not finish in the top-10, NASCAR fans can take advantage of a $10 discount off of their federal return when they use TaxAct Online Plus or Premium Editions. Filers can lock in their “Premium Finish” price online by visiting TaxAct.com/Ten and the applicable discounted pricing offer is available through April 8. With TaxAct’s Price Lock Guarantee, filers are guaranteed to pay the price offered for its online products at the time they register, no matter when they choose to file. TaxAct will offer additional opportunities for NASCAR fans to file returns with “Premium Finish” pricing for the NASCAR Cup Series races up to the tax filing deadline on April 18, 2017.
Patrick and the No. 10 TaxAct Ford team enter Martinsville after three weeks of finishing outside the top-20. Returning to a track where she’s experienced a number of solid performances puts them in prime position to earn a “Premium Finish” this weekend.
As the NASCAR Cup Series returns to Martinsville for Sunday’s race, Patrick and her No. 10 TaxAct Ford team look to revitalize their season at the iconic short track and bring home their first top-10 result of the year.
DANICA PATRICK, Driver of the No. 10 TaxAct Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:
What are your thoughts about racing at the upcoming short tracks like Martinsville?
“While I have spent a lot of time going over 200 mph in an Indy car, it’s the more traditional passing on short tracks that falls back on my road-course-racing background of setting the pass up, timing it right, getting inside of them and completing the move. That’s especially true on the tracks where you run the bottom like Martinsville.”
TaxAct is back as the primary sponsor on your No. 10 Ford this weekend at Martinsville and the company is running the “Premium Finish” program again. Talk about that.
“Choosing to file your taxes with TaxAct is a no-brainer. The company has always been the best deal in tax and their new ‘Premium Finish’ simply sweetens the deal. I’m glad we can help the NASCAR community discover how easy and affordable filing your own taxes can be with TaxAct.”
What’s the toughest thing to figure out about Martinsville?
“At Martinsville, like any short track, you want to make sure you turn the center, but you have to have drive on exit. They go hand-in-hand, too. If you can’t turn the center, it doesn’t matter what kind of power-down you have. If you have all that wheel in it when you’re trying to get off the corner and put the power down, it puts a lot of load on those back tires to try and get you off the corner because you’re using the power to try and turn. It’s about achieving a good balance with the car and I feel like our team has really always done a pretty good job with that. I’ve only had one Martinsville that was bad and the rest of them were all pretty decent.”
What is the key to success at Martinsville?
“I came from a road-course-racing background and, at Martinsville, I feel like you have to set up passes a little bit like that. I think it’s also a track where you have to exercise a lot of discipline. It’s easy to make mistakes. It’s easy to overdrive and try and get a little bit more when you’re passing somebody and make mistakes. Those are the two things I keep in mind when I’m there. I also think you really need a good car there, and Stewart-Haas Racing has always had good cars there.”
What do you like about racing at Martinsville?
“At Martinsville, I enjoy that if you have a good car, you can pass. I always say that Martinsville is one of those tracks that you’re either looking out your windshield or you’re looking in your rearview mirror. It doesn’t seem like there’s a lot of in-between there, at least for me. Luckily, I’ve had more weekends where I was looking out the windshield.”
Short track racing is where NASCAR started and it’s where NASCAR drivers typically get their start. How intense is it to race when you have an entire field crammed onto a half mile oval?
“I think short-track racing where we apex the bottom of the track, like Martinsville, can be fun because you can use your bumper and get them a little bit out of the way and out of shape.”
There’s always a lot of beating and banging at short tracks. What’s acceptable and what isn’t?
“Well, I believe that on a short track – or, honestly, any track – I think you need to get next to them. I mean, 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 you’re not going to be patient anymore.”