Sitting 27th in points might not be where Danica Patrick envisioned she would be at this point in the season, but now that we’re hitting tracks for the second time her finishes should improve. Building that playbook of notes she and crew chief Tony Gibson can use.
“The first time I raced there (Atlanta) was last year and I did both Nationwide and (Sprint) Cup. That seems like a long time ago and that was only my fifth Cup start, so I feel a little more confident and knowledgeable than I did a year ago. It’s a fast place. The tires definitely go off with the surface and the line moves around a lot. It’s a big weekend with a lot going on for GoDaddy, Coke Zero and Chevrolet, so there’s a lot off the track, as well. But I’m looking forward to it,” commented Patrick.
Something that will help her this weekend and until the end of the year will be having veteran Mark Martin as a teammate while her owner and teammate Tony Stewart is recovering from a broken leg. Patrick can lean on his years of experience at these tracks. This was seen this past week during a test session at the Richmond International Raceway.
“The test went really well. And I’ve always been happy to have other drivers in my car at a test, especially someone like Mark with all his experience. For me, as a rookie, I think it’s important to get a different perspective and get someone else’s thoughts. Mark has so much experience and he’s been so helpful to me, even before we were teammates, so I was happy to have him in the car. Anything that will make me better and SHR better as a whole, I’m all for,” explained Patrick.
Speaking of Stewart, she was able to visit him this past week. “I went and saw him last week and he is progressively getting better. We were joking about how he has to go to the hospital to get a check-up and how the ambulance comes, and they bring him out on a stretcher. Poor guy. But he was in good spirits and he was definitely of the mindset that he needs to do it right, and do rehab right. You know, they hope that he can be back in January. And if he does, he is like, ‘I don’t need to be back any sooner, so let’s just do this right.’ I think that is the right attitude. I think he is in a really good place – as good of a place as you can be with many incisions in your leg.”
Looking towards 2014 Patrick is excited about the recent announcement that Kurt Busch would be joining the Stewart-Haas Racing team. “I’m excited. I have known Kurt for a long time. It goes all the way back to when he drove an IndyCar (in 2003) at Sebring (Fla.), I believe. He drove a Rahal Letterman car and I was there watching that day. I’ve always really liked him and got along really well with him. We’ve never had any problems on the track at all, so we have a good working relationship, for sure. I always like having more people to look at as far as their styles. With a four-car team, there are more engineers, there are more crew chiefs, and more people around to develop things. For me I think it’s a great thing.”
The action gets underway for the AdvoCare 500 Sunday night at 7:30. All the action from the Atlanta Motor Speedway can be seen on ESPN.