Danica Is Searching For Some Short Track Success

Danica Patrick

As the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series returns to Martinsville (Va.) Speedway for Sunday’s First Data 500, Danica Patrick and the No. 10 Ford Warriors in Pink Ford Fusion team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) will be looking to rekindle their performance at the .526-mile oval.

In March 2015, Patrick etched her name in the record books at Martinsville by earning a seventh-place finish in the STP 500. The effort ended with her first top-10 finishes of the season and 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 record that Patrick now holds outright with seven top-10s in Cup Series competition.

For Patrick, that spring race 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.

Her first Martinsville start surprised many NASCAR observers as she earned a solid 12th-place result – made more impressive by the fact she started 43rd after an engine change before the race. Patrick looked like a veteran on the shortest track on the circuit. All-told, in nine NASCAR Cup Series starts at Martinsville, she’s earned one top-10 finish and four top-20s.

As Patrick and the No. 10 team enter Sunday’s race, they look forward to reviving their performance after having their day cut short by accidents the past three weekends. Three weeks ago at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, Patrick’s race was cut short with less than 75 laps to go when her No. 10 Ford Warriors In Pink Ford was collected by another car as it spun down the track. Her car sustained significant damage and she was relegated to a 38th-place finish when the team was unable to make repairs. Two weeks ago at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, Patrick ran inside the top-10 but was scored just outside the top-20 when a multicar accident on lap 172 caused significant damage to both the right front and the right rear of the No. 10 Ford. The team pitted multiple times for repairs but was unable to properly address the issues within the NASCAR-mandated five-minute time limit, thus ending Patrick’s day and relegating the team to a 21st-place finish. Last week at Kanas Speedway in Kansas City, Patrick was collected in a late-race, 14-car accident that left the team unable to continue. She had to settle for a 38th-place finish.

Once again this weekend, Patrick’s No. 10 Ford will feature the Warriors in Pink livery in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The special paint scheme marks Ford’s decades-long commitment to raising awareness and funds in the fight against the disease. The Ford Warriors in Pink program has worked for 23 years to help breast cancer patients and their families. To date, Ford has dedicated more than $133 million to research, education and patient resources.

Patrick’s No. 10 racecar displays the warrior symbol to honor the powerful, courageous women and men engaged in the fight against breast cancer. Symbols are a key part of the inspirational message Ford Warriors in Pink represents – serving to uplift those who exhibit strength and courage in the face of their greatest battle.

After three-straight DNFs, Patrick and the No. 10 Ford Warriors in Pink Ford team are ready to channel that warrior spirit as they look to rekindle their success at the iconic Martinsville short track and bring home another top-10 finish and greater awareness for the Warriors in Pink initiative.

DANICA PATRICK, Driver of the No. 10 Ford Warriors in Pink Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing: 
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.”

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.”

Ford Warriors in Pink Racing Team Report

Round 33 of 36 – First Data 500 – Martinsville

Car No.: 10 – Ford Warriors in Pink 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

First Data 500 Notes of Interest: 
  • The First Data 500 will mark Danica Patrick’s 187th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start and her 10th at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. Patrick has earned one top-10 finish and four top-20s at the track.
  • Two years ago, Patrick rallied from a lap down in the Martinsville 500 to earn a seventh-place finish at the short track. The effort marked the fifth top-10 finish of her career, tying her with Janet Guthrie for the most top-10 NASCAR Cup Series 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 NASCAR Cup Series 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). Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series 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).
  • Ford Warriors in Pink: In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Patrick’s No. 10 Ford Fusion will feature a special Ford Warriors in Pink paint scheme for this weekend’s race at Martinsville. The special livery is a part of Ford’s decades-long commitment to raising awareness and funds in the fight against the disease. For 23 years, the Ford Warriors in Pink program has worked to help breast cancer patients and their families, and Ford has dedicated more than $133 million to research, education and patient resources.
  • Driving More Good Days: Last month, Patrick helped kick things off with the Ford Warriors in Pink by surprising patients with racing lessons at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois. These special events being held across the country are designed to help tap into a newfound fearlessness patients and survivors tend to experience by giving them free access to engage in new thrills and challenges. To empower people to take action and support their loved ones, Ford Warriors in Pink launched its More Good Days initiative in 2015. Since then, the program has delivered more than 80,000 More Good Days experiences across the country – ranging from rides to treatment centers to special patient surprises including racing lessons and more. To join Patrick and the Ford Warriors in Pink in the fight against breast cancer, visit FordCares.com to access free tips, tools and resources that make it easy to give breast cancer patients More Good Days.
  • 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 seven 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.
  • 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.

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

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