Danica Is Ready To Rekindle Some Martinsville Success

Danica Patrick

As the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to Martinsville (Va.) Speedway for Sunday’s Goody’s Fast Relief 500, Danica Patrick and the No. 10 Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet SS team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) will be looking to revitalize their performance 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 her first top-10 of the season and the fifth top-10 of her Sprint Cup career. It also tied Patrick with Janet Guthrie for the most top-10 Sprint Cup 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 Sprint Cup 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. Six-time Sprint Cup 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 seven Sprint Cup starts at Martinsville, Patrick has earned one top-10 finish and four top-20s. In April, she started 28th, ran as high as seventh and finished 16th after battling handling issues.

As Sprint Cup teams return to Martinsville for Sunday’s race, Patrick and her No. 10 Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet SS team look to rekindle their success at the iconic short track and bring home their first top-10 result of the season.

DANICA PATRICK, Driver of the No. 10 Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing: 
What was your first impression of Martinsville Speedway?

“I remember my first year in the Cup Series I did 10 races and Tony (Stewart) decided that he wanted to put the 10 hardest races on my schedule in preparation for the next year, which was my first full season in 2013. He forgot to put Martinsville on that 10-race schedule and I remember going there the next year and he was, like, ‘Oh shoot, I forgot to put this one on your schedule.’ He was mad that he forgot to put Martinsville on the schedule, and I’m not going to lie, I sucked in practice my first time there. But once we got into the race and I learned a couple of things, all of a sudden it took off and I think we ended up 11th or 12th that day. I remember feeling like I’d all but won the race, basically. Ever since then, I’ve looked forward to coming back. I’ve only had one or two bad races at Martinsville. It can happen and I definitely now know the feeling between a good and a bad race at Martinsville. In a good race, you look out the windshield and, in a bad race, you look out the rearview mirror because you’re pretty much either going forward or backward, you’re not usually standing still very long there. Hopefully, it’s a look forward kind of race on Sunday.”

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.”

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.”

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.”

We’re closing in on the end of the season. How has this first year gone with your crew chief Billy Scott?

“We’re going through these last few races of the year and using them as a big learning experience for us to know which direction we want to go in for next year. Things have been going better lately and I think the big contributing factor is just time and working with each other long enough that we’re honing in on what we need and are getting more comfortable with each other.”

The Cubs are playing in the World Series for the first time since 1945. How did you become a Cubs fan?

“I grew up in Illinois and have a place in Chicago. Anyone who knows a Chicagoan knows we have a lot of pride and excitement for our home teams.”

What is your favorite memory of the Cubs?

“I’ve thrown out the first pitch twice over the years. I stood on top of the mound both times, not in front of it and I basically had the same exact pitch each time. It like one-hopped right in front of home plate and into the catcher’s mitt. They weren’t perfect, but I was on top of the mound and they were straight and there was no running for the ball. So, I consider that a mild success. I think that my seventh-inning stretch song probably made like a ‘Not Top-10’ list on SportsCenter for a keep your day job kind of thing, which I don’t care because I am not a singer. But I am an athlete, so I think the pitch has to go well, so I could have cared less that they didn’t think I sang well.”

What would it mean to you to see the Cubs win the World Series?

“I have to say it would be pretty incredible to see the Cubs win the World Series.”

Nature’s Bakery Racing Team Report

Round 33 of 36 – Goody’s Fast Relief 500 – Martinsville

Car No.: 10 – Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet SS



Kevin Harvick – No. 4 Busch Light Chevrolet SS

Tony Stewart – No. 14 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS

Kurt Busch – No. 41 State Water Heaters Chevrolet SS


At-Track PR Contact: Annette Randall, True Speed Communication (704-875-3388 ext. 805, Annette.Randall@TrueSpeedCommunication.com)

Primary Team Members:


Driver: Danica Patrick

Hometown: Roscoe, Illinois


Crew Chief: Billy Scott

Hometown: Land O’ Lakes, Florida


Car Chief: Pete White

Hometown: Hinsdale, Massachusetts


Engine Builder: Hendrick Motorsports

Headquarters: Concord, North Carolina


Engine Specialist: Todd Hamm

Hometown: Kutztown, Pennsylvania


Spotter: Brandon Benesch

Hometown: Cumberland, Wisconsin

Over-The-Wall Crew Members:


Gas Man: Tony Cardamone

Hometown: Bristol, Virginia


Front Tire Changer: Ryan Mulder

Hometown: Sioux City, Iowa


Second Gas Man: Seth James

Hometown: Fairbury, Nebraska


Front Tire Carrier: Todd Drakulich

Hometown: Tucson, Arizona


Windshield: Kyle Anderson (also serves as interior mechanic)

Hometown: Jewell, Iowa


Rear Tire Changer: Jonathan Sherman

Hometown: Monroe, Louisiana


Jackman: Nate House

Hometown: Gastonia, North Carolina


Rear Tire Carrier: Jeremy Howard

Hometown: Dalhart, Texas

Road Crew Members:


Truck Drivers: Wayne Anderson and Scott Robbins

Hometown: West Covina, California and Woodsville, New Hampshire, respectively


Tire Specialist: Nathan McGuire

Hometown: Palmyra, New York


Shock Specialist: Jimmy Rowlands

Hometown: Reading, Pennsylvania


Engineers: Oliver Rivera and William Lee

Hometowns: Houston and Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina, respectively


Underneath Mechanic: Nick McIntosh

Hometown: Havre, Montana


Front End Mechanic: Joey Elliott

Hometown: Northwood, New Hampshire

Martinsville Speedway Notes of Interest: 
  • The Goody’s Fast Relief 500 will mark Danica Patrick’s 151st career start in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and her eighth at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. She finished a career-best seventh there in March 2015. That effort marked her first top-10 of the season and the fifth top-10 finish of her career, tying her with Janet Guthrie for the most top-10 Sprint Cup finishes by a female driver. Patrick then went on to set the top-10 record outright by scoring a 10th-place finish at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway a few weeks later.
  • In 2013, Patrick became first woman to start a Sprint Cup race at Martinsville, which opened in 1949. The 12th-place finish in her debut at the .526-mile track was an impressive rookie performance that bested those of some other name drivers in their Martinsville debuts, most notably her team owner Tony Stewart, who finished 20th in his first Martinsville start (1999). Six-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson finished 35th in his Martinsville debut (2002). NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace finished 15th (1984). Dale Jarrett finished 14th (1984). Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 26th (2000). Kyle Busch finished 39th (2005). Matt Kenseth finished 21st (2000). Kurt Busch finished 37th (2000). Fred Lorenzen finished 24th (1956).
  • Patrick to Appear on Chopped Junior: Patrick will appear on the Food Network show Chopped Junior Tuesday at 8 p.m. EDT. Filmed earlier this year, the episode titled “Snapper Snafus” features talented kid chefs doing their best to create tasty dishes with surprise ingredients. As a past winner of the adult version of Chopped, Patrick served as a judge for the competition between the junior chefs. She was joined by fellow judges Scott Conant and Jamika Pessoa on the show hosted by Ted Allen. Behind-the-scenes footage from the show is available online.
  • Nature’s Bakery Fantern at Martinsville: Trey Keesee, a NASCAR fan who resides in Hurt, Virginia, will join the No. 10 Nature’s Bakery team Sunday at Martinsville as the latest Nature’s Bakery Fantern. The Fantern program was launched in January to energize fans with an opportunity to participate in a unique, at-track journey with Patrick and the No. 10 team. Keesee’s race-day experience will include spending time with the Nature’s Bakery pit crew, a tour of the Sprint Cup garage and pit area, meeting Patrick and watching the race from pit road. The fan internship program is slated to run throughout the 2016 season. U.S. residents can visit www.NaturesBakery.com/Fantern to apply to be a part of the No. 10 Nature’s Bakery team. Fans have two options to submit their applications for the role: submit a one-minute video, or several photos accompanied by a 500-word essay detailing why the fan should be selected as the next Nature’s Bakery Fantern. Each Nature’s Bakery Fantern will get to bring a guest to the track to share in the special at-track journey with the No. 10 Nature’s Bakery team. Fanterns will share social media content from their at-track adventure utilizing the #Fantern hashtag.
  • Patrick Partners with Williams-Sonoma to Benefit No Kid Hungry: Williams-Sonoma recently launched its latest campaign to benefit No Kid Hungry and, as part of the effort, the retailer revealed its “Cook for a Cause” program, which includes a line of limited-edition, celebrity-designed spatulas. Williams-Sonoma will donate 30 percent of the retail price to No Kid Hungry, which can connect a child with 10 healthy meals for just $1. This year’s spatulas feature illustrations contributed by Jimmy Kimmel, Chrissy Teigen, Trisha Yearwood, Giada De Laurentiis, Ina Garten, Michael Voltaggio, Ayesha Curry, American Girl and Patrick. The limited-edition collection is on sale in stores and online: http://www.williams-sonoma.com/shop/new/new-no-kid-hungry/.
  • Dallas Dogs Available: A plush version of Dallas Stenhouse, the 2-year-old miniature Siberian Husky that belongs to Patrick and her boyfriend Ricky Stenhouse Jr., is available for sale. Race fans can purchase their own Dallas plush dog at the Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) team store in Kannapolis, North Carolina, the SHR online store and at Shop.DanicaPatrick.com. A portion of the proceeds from all sales will benefit animal charities.
  • For the History Books: Since Patrick began competing in NASCAR on a part-time basis in 2010, she has made plenty of history. Here is a recap of how she has altered the record books through the years:
    • Became the first woman to win a Sprint Cup pole when she set the fastest time in qualifying for the 2013 Daytona 500.
    • Led laps 90 to 91 of the 2013 Daytona 500, becoming the first female to lead NASCAR’s most prestigious race. She also led laps 127 to 129.
    • Became the first woman to lead a NASCAR race under green (Daytona 2013). Janet Guthrie led five laps under yellow in 1977 at Ontario (Calif.) Motor Speedway.
    • Finished 2013 Daytona 500 in eighth place, the highest finishing position ever for a woman in the “Great American Race.”
    • Finished 10th in 2012 Xfinity Series points, the highest points finish by a woman in the history of NASCAR’s top three series (Sprint Cup, Xfinity, Truck).
    • Competed in every Sprint Cup race in 2013, becoming the first female driver to complete an entire season in the series.
    • Became the first female to compete in the nonpoints Sprint All-Star race (2013) and Sprint Unlimited (2014).
    • Have the most starts of any female in Sprint Cup Series competition.
    • With six top-10 finishes, holds the record for the most top-10 finishes of any female in Sprint Cup Series competition.
  • History Maker in IndyCar: Patrick became the first woman to win a major-league open-wheel race in a North American series in April 2008 by winning the IndyCar Series Japan Indy 300 at the Twin Ring Motegi oval in Japan.
  • Big Stage: In seven Indianapolis 500 starts, Patrick finished in the top-10 six times, including a third-place result in 2009, the best finish ever for a woman in the historic race.


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