This Week Danica Is “Back Home Again In Indiana”

Danica Patrick

When Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams visit Indianapolis Motor Speedway for Sunday’s Brickyard 400(Back Home Again in) Indiana, the song performed prior to the Indianapolis 500 each year since 1946, will be a welcoming tune for Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 Aspen Dental Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR).

While Patrick was born in Beloit, Wisconsin and raised in the town of Roscoe, Illinois, when she returns to Indianapolis, it’s a homecoming of sorts after years of success at Indy as she competed in the Indianapolis 500 from 2005 to 2011.

“I think the best thing about coming back is that it feels familiar and it feels comfortable,” Patrick said. “We spent so much time there during the month of May that it becomes like a second home, almost. It’s not like the Indy 500 was a three-day show. You spent just about the entire month there. My parents live outside of Indy, as do my sister and her family, so it’s nice to come back.”

Patrick burst onto the scene at Indy in May 2005, when she stunned the world by leading three times for 19 laps and finishing fourth in her first 500 – becoming the first woman to lead laps and score a top-five finish in the historic race.

She set numerous records during her Indy 500 debut and set the tone early when she posted the fastest lap on the opening day of practice. She went on to set the fastest practice lap five times during the month – more than any other driver – including Pole Day and Carburetion Day.

Patrick’s practice lap of 229.880 mph on Pole Day was the fastest of any driver during the month and the fastest turned by any woman in the history of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. During her qualification attempt, Patrick made an impressive save as her car bobbled in turn one on her first lap, earning her rave reviews for her car control by longtime Speedway observers. She ended up qualifying fourth, the best-ever starting position for a woman in the race.

On race day, with 11 laps remaining in the 200-lap event, Patrick blew past leader Dan Wheldon and held the point until lap 194, when she was forced to slow down in order to conserve fuel to make it to the finish. Her efforts earned her Rookie of the Year honors.

Patrick scored six top-10 finishes in seven starts at Indianapolis and qualified 10th or better five times. Her third-place result in 2009 is the best finish ever for a woman in the history of the 500.

While Patrick has earned history-making results at Indianapolis in her IndyCar career, she has yet to experience the same level of success at the 2.5-mile track in a stock car. In her first NASCAR Cup Series start at the track in 2013, she finished 30th and, in 2014, her day at the iconic track was cut short by rear-gear issues and she ended up 42nd. In 2015, Patrick was running 13th with less than 15 laps to go but lost considerable ground on the final two restarts and finished 27th. Last year, Patrick scored her highest stock car finish at the track when she took the checkered flag in the 22nd position.

In Patrick’s lone Xfinity Series race at Indianapolis in 2012, she finished 35th after getting caught up in an accident.

Patrick returns to Indianapolis this week on the heels of scoring back-to-back top-15 finishes. Riding that momentum, Patrick and the No. 10 Aspen Dental Ford team hope her past success in the 500 will finally carry over to the Brickyard 400 so they can bring home a solid finish.

DANICA PATRICK, Driver of the No. 10 Aspen Dental Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing: 
How special is Indianapolis Motor Speedway to you?

“I love going to Indy. I love driving through the tunnel and coming into the track – when it’s empty – just seeing the Pagoda. It’s just such a special place and I have so many great memories from there. No matter what car I’m driving, I always feel the track’s magnitude and just how special of a place it is.”

Compare driving a stock car at Indianapolis to driving an Indy car.

“It’s just about finding a balance with the car out there, which is no different in a stock car than in an Indy car. You’re just trying to find a balance. All you’re doing in an Indy car is trimming it out and, if I could have more downforce in these cars, I’d probably take it because, in an IndyCar, we learned very quickly that it’s about how much throttle you could carry around. The stock cars get very low in the corners, and that can be a little bit of a danger in an IndyCar, especially if you get just a little bit too low and get a little loose. So, that’s a little bit different, I suppose.”

Talk about what it’s like when you drive through the tunnel at Indianapolis and get ready for a race weekend.

“I think the best thing about coming back is that it feels familiar and it feels comfortable. I like seeing it. It feels very comfortable, very familiar. I just feel like I’ve had a lot of different experiences there that can help me and, again, it’s just a special place where I feel like, from the beginning, I’ve always really believed that you have to show this track respect and it will hopefully show you the respect back. I’ve always thought that and, especially in an Indy car, this place can bite you pretty big. I don’t think it’s too much different in a stock car, to be honest. It’s just a very familiar place. We spent so much time there during the month of May that it becomes like a second home, almost. It’s not like the Indy 500 was a three-day show. You spent just about the entire month there. My parents live outside of Indy, as do my sister and her family, so it’s nice to come back.”

How hard is it to drive a stock car at Indy and what do you need to turn a fast lap?

“In an Indy car, you don’t have to lift, which is obviously nice. But, on the other hand, you get to the point where you do have to lift a little bit and it’s always that breaking point of flat or not flat, so I think that that is quite challenging. But, in a stock car, you’re always lifting, you’re breaking, you’re sliding around a lot more without so much banking, so we need the banking. I have always thought flat tracks make for good racing in IndyCar and really banked tracks are good for racing in stock cars. I don’t know if (Indianapolis Motor Speedway) necessarily suits us as our best races of the year that we’ve put on, but I think it’s still a great race and I personally enjoy traditional passing because that’s my background. That’s my go-karting, road-course-racing background. So much of what I did growing up was setting up the pass, getting inside of them and them having to kind of give way because there are not two lanes, so I do enjoy that challenge.”

Aspen Dental Racing Team Report

Round 20 of 36 – Brickyard 400 – Indianapolis

Car No.: 10 – Aspen Dental Ford Fusion

 

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: Tony Cardamone

Hometown: Bristol, Virginia

 

Engine Builder: Roush Yates Engines

Headquarters: Mooresville, North Carolina

 

Engine Specialist: Evan Cupples

Hometown: Hudson, Illinois

 

Spotter: Brandon Benesch

Hometown: Cumberland, Wisconsin

Over-The-Wall Crew Members:

Gas Man: Justin Wilson

Hometown: St. Paul, Minnesota

 

Front Tire Changer: Ryan Mulder

Hometown: Sioux City, Iowa

 

Second Gas Man: Nate Spoor

Hometown: Penn Yan, New York

 

Front Tire Carrier: Tyler Bullard

Hometown: King, North Carolina

 

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 Larry Lush

Hometown: West Covina, California and Waynesville, North Carolina, respectively

 

Tire Specialist: Nathan McGuire

Hometown: Palmyra, New York

 

Shock Specialist: Aaron Kuehn

Hometown: Kensington, Connecticut

 

Engineers: Scott Bingham and William Lee

Hometowns: Lawrenceville, Georgia and Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina, respectively

 

Underneath Mechanic: Nick McIntosh

Hometown: Havre, Montana

 

Front End Mechanic: Joe Zanolini

Hometown: Sybertsville, Pennsylvania

Brickyard 400 Notes of Interest: 
  • The Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway will mark Danica Patrick’s 174th career start in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
  • Indianapolis Results: While Patrick has earned history-making results at Indianapolis in her IndyCar career, she has yet to experience the same level of success at the 2.5-mile track in a stock car. In her first NASCAR Cup Series start at the track in 2013, she finished 30th and, in 2014, her day was cut short by rear-gear issues and she ended up 42nd. In 2015, Patrick was running 13th with less than 15 laps to go but lost considerable ground on the final two restarts and finished 27th. Last year, she earned her career-best NASCAR Cup Series result at the track after scoring a 22nd-place finish. In Patrick’s lone Xfinity Series race at Indianapolis in 2012, she finished 35th after getting caught up in an accident.
  • 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.
  • Aspen Dental: With more than 600 offices in 36 states, Aspen Dental-branded practices offer patients a safe, welcoming and judgment-free environment to get the full range of dental care they need along with the convenience and speed of onsite denture labs. That’s why the Aspen Dental network of independent dental care providers is one of the largest and fastest growing in the U.S. and saw more than 1.5 million patients in 2016. To find out more about how Aspen Dental practices make it simply easier for each of their patients to get the healthy mouth they deserve, visit AspenDental.com.
  • Dallas Dogs Available: A plush version of Dallas Stenhouse, the 3-year-old miniature Siberian Husky that belongs to Patrick and her boyfriend Ricky Stenhouse Jr., is now available for sale. Race fans can purchase their own Dallas plush dog at the 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 NASCAR Cup Series 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 (Cup, Xfinity, Truck).
    • Competed in every NASCAR Cup Series race in 2013, becoming the first female driver to complete an entire season in the series.
    • Became the first female to compete in the non-points NASCAR All-Star race (2013) and Sprint Unlimited (2014).
    • Have the most starts of any female in NASCAR Cup Series competition.
    • With six top-10 finishes, holds the record for the most top-10 finishes of any female in NASCAR 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.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

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