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Pre-Race Interview With Danica Patrick at Bristol

WHICH LINE TO YOU PREFER HERE AT BRISTOL? “I prefer the fastest line, and I would imagine to start the weekend, it’s going to be a little lower. In the second Cup race last year, it moved to the top, and it was really good on the top. I think if you can get the bottom to work and get the car turned, you have some options in your pocket for lapped traffic, and if you get stuck behind somebody. In general, as a driver, I would say I’m more of what I could call a bottom feeder. But, you have to run where the grip is.”

 

YOU WERE RUNNING WELL HERE LAST TIME AND YOU GOT WRECKED. HOW CAUTIOUS ARE YOU GOING TO BE THIS TIME? “You know, when we are racing nose-to-tail really close, it’s always more of a risk, of course. But, there is nothing I can do to prepare myself better for the race that would fix the problem from last time of getting taken out. If you get taken out, you get taken out. Hopefully that doesn’t happen. The best thing I can do for that is try and get further up the field so that it is around some smarter drivers. Hopefully that happens.”

 

HOW IS IT HELPING YOU RUNNING EVERY WEEK NOW, AND GETTING INTO THAT RHYTHM? “Last year I did 10 Cup races, and it was a great way to, I feel like, more than get my feet wet with the series, and with the different car. It’s nice to come to a place like Bristol that you know is going to be challenging, and know you have done some laps here. 440-odd in a race here, from what I remember from the second race last year.  All that stuff helps out. It’s not going to be the be-all-end-all of running up front, or should be running up front. But all of it helps.”

 

DO YOU LIKE RACING HERE? “I do. I like Bristol. Obviously can be a little bit…the cars definitely got in a train last time we were here. It was tough. It was a little bit hard to pass. But like I said, that is why the bottom becomes important because if you get stuck, or even if you start on the bottom on a restart.  If your car is turning, you can make that work I think for a little while. I think qualifying is going to be really important, so definitely going to find myself doing a lot more qualifying runs…as many as possible before qualifying in the afternoon. But, I’ve liked Bristol since the first time I came here.”

 

HOW AGGRESSIVE DO YOU HAVE TO BE? DO YOU KIND OF HAVE TO LET IT RIP AND JUST DO WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO? OR, DO YOU HAVE ANY SORT OF GAME PLAN ON HOW AGGRESSIVE YOU WOULD BE.  “I think that is a silly question. As a driver, every single one of us is going to go absolutely hard as possible. There’s never a plan to back off, or go easy, or anything like that; other than if you are saving fuel out there on a strategy at the end of the race, you always go as fast as you can all the time.”

 

HOW MUCH RISK-REWARD DO YOU TRY TO BALANCE HERE? “We run that every weekend. We run it every single weekend, no matter where we go. There’s risk in what we do, that’s what hopefully makes it exciting for the fans, and why people like to watch it because we’re running on the ragged edge of losing grip and finding ourselves up in the wall; or at least running up the track a little bit. That’s our job.”

 

DID YOU SEE BERNIE ECCLESTONE’S COMMENTS YESTERDAY? “Yes I did see something about Bernie’s comments and they sounded complimentary. It looked like he was kind of acknowledging my ability to drive a car. So that was kind.”

 

ANY THOUGHTS? WOULD YOU EVER WANT TO TRY IT (FORMULA ONE RACING)? “I’ve always said that unless that it would be something I would want to do for real, as in race a Formula One car, I don’t see any point in testing it. It is a lot or work to get fitted in the car comfortable enough to go drive it. Then as a driver, for me at least, I run the risk of what if it doesn’t go well, and then people judge me for that.  So, unless it was something that I was really serious, I wouldn’t do it. I will say that Bernie over the years has actually sent a lot of messages. Any kind of big high point that happens in my career, whether it be at Indy, or Daytona now, or winning in Japan – things like that, he has sent messages.  He even sent me like a big picture one time that was signed by him. He’s actually been really nice. I don’t necessarily think that his comments a long while back are representative of his opinion of me.”

 

WHAT DID YOU LEARN AT VEGAS FOR THE OTHER MILE-AND-A-HALF’S COMING UP ON THE SCHEDULE? “It was definitely a struggle last week in Vegas. It was very, very loose. To be honest, it was loose at Phoenix as well. There were a few things that we did; a few common denominators in the weekends. I feel like we came away, given the fact that it was so challenging, that we really need to figure it out. I went into the shop on Tuesday and there was definitely some thoughts and concepts that they were like look, we did this wrong; we need to fix that; your comments made sense from practice it didn’t even make sense to me that we needed to do them necessarily for the race. I think that this car works a little differently in traffic as well. Aerodynamically we have lost a lot of side-force, and I think that plays a roll. I think that we have to get all four tires on the ground the way they need to be. We have to get the rear tied down. There’s nothing you can do if you can’t put the power down.”

 

WHAT ABOUT THE GRUELING ASPECT AT BRISTOL? “It’s fine. I think it is a little daunting to say 500 laps, but there’s a lot of times that we do 500 laps, or 500 miles, this is just one of them – one of many. It makes me appreciate all the races I did last year, and how almost all of them were 500 miles. It is a different mindset. I feel like no matter what happens – whether it’s a 200-lap race, or a 500-lap race, you find your rhythm. Time goes by fast sometimes, and sometimes it’s slow.  All I can hope is the car has a decent balance because when it doesn’t, that’s when the laps seem wrong. If we can just get a decent car, and get into a rhythm, and find ourselves in a good spot, have a consistent car throughout the race, time does go pretty quickly usually.”

 

FANS COME HERE AND EXPECT A LOT OF BEATING AND BANGING. DO YOU LIKE THAT KIND OF RACING? “Yes. I mean, I don’t mind some beating and banging out there, I don’t mind pushing your way around a little bit. It just happens. I did it a little bit at Phoenix even. It is just the nature of short tracks when you are running really close to one another.   You put 43 cars out on a track this size; you are filling up a lot of the track. You are able to run closer as opposed to the mile-an-a-half or more. The short tracks are conducive for close racing. The aerodynamics don’t come into play quite as much. I enjoy it. I’ve always said from the beginning that NASCAR is a lot of fun for me because if somebody lays on you, you can lay right back. You aren’t risking your life, like the old days in IndyCar when somebody would do something that was not intelligent to you, I understood that it was a physical risk to try and get them back, because when the wheels are exposed, bad things happen. Not here, though. Not in NASCAR. You can bump and bang all you like.”

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Posted by on March 15, 2013. Filed under Breaking News,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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