We’ve all heard the expression “everything’s bigger in Texas.” While the saying’s origin may not be clear, Danica Patrick and the No. 10 Aspen Dental “$10M for Veterans” Ford Fusion team hope to leave Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth with big, Texas-sized smiles following Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race.
Of all the tracks where the NASCAR Cup Series competes, Patrick has the most starts at Texas, having driven in 22 major-league races – 10 in the NASCAR Cup Series, four in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, and eight in the IndyCar Series.
Patrick’s career-best NASCAR Cup Series result at Texas is 16th, a mark she earned at both events there in 2015. In her four Xfinity Series races at Texas, Patrick has three top-15 finishes, including an eighth-place result in April 2012. In Patrick’s eight IndyCar Series starts at the track, she has five top-10s, including a third-place result in June 2007 and a second-place finish in June 2010.
All of Patrick’s experience at the 1.5-mile Texas oval went out the window earlier this year as the track was repaved and reconfigured. Teams got their first look at the new track surface in April, when they competed in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500. Patrick called the race “one of the hardest races I’ve ever done in a stock car.” She started 19th and finished 24th, one lap down to the leaders.
Despite the modest performance at the track in the spring, Patrick and the No. 10 team head to Texas with something to smile about as sponsor Aspen Dental will be honoring veterans this weekend. On Saturday, veterans will receive free dental care aboard Aspen Dental’s MouthMobile – a 42-foot-long dental office on wheels. In addition, Patrick’s No. 10 Ford Fusion will sport a patriotic red, white and blue Aspen Dental paint scheme throughout the weekend to celebrate the veteran community, as well as Aspen Dental reaching the $10 million mark in donated dentistry to veterans through its Healthy Mouth Movement.
As they race to honor veterans and celebrate Aspen Dental’s efforts, Patrick and the No. 10 Aspen Dental “$10M for Veterans” Ford team hope to leave Texas Motor Speedway with a solid finish and some of the biggest smiles ever seen.
DANICA PATRICK, Driver of the No. 10 Aspen Dental “$10M for Veterans” Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:
You’ve competed at Texas Motor Speedway for many years, dating back to your IndyCar Series career. Talk about going back to the track for this weekend’s race.
“Well, since it was repaved before we got there (in April), it changed a lot. I would say it was probably one of the hardest races I’ve ever done in a stock car this time when we went back. What am I looking forward to? Hopefully it’s not quite as narrow of a lane as last time. It’s just challenging when you’ve got a new track and you’ve just got to get some wear on it and put tire rubber down and all sorts of stuff. It makes it more challenging.”
What is your most memorable moment racing at Texas Motor Speedway?
“It was probably one of the last years I was there in an IndyCar – one of the last couple, I can’t remember. It was the end of the race and it was (Ryan) Briscoe and I. I came out from a pit stop in the lead and it was the last run and I just wasn’t fast enough. I was wide open, holding it on the bottom, and he drove around me. I almost had that one but finished second. That was probably my most memorable Texas memory.”
Your No. 10 Ford Fusion features a special patriotic paint scheme this weekend as Aspen Dental honors veterans. Talk about that.
“I’ve gotten to see first-hand all that Aspen Dental does to support our nation’s veterans. Our country’s veterans have given up so much for our freedom and I am proud to have a partner like Aspen Dental that does so much to honor their service and support their access to quality dental care.”