Patrick sad to step away from NASCAR
AP Auto Racing Writer
LAS VEGAS (AP) – Danica Patrick has one more NASCAR race before a four-month hiatus to return to the IndyCar Series, and she’s admittedly going to miss being away from her new team.
“I was telling the boys today I was kind of sad, this is the last weekend for awhile,” she said Friday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. “I really enjoy all of them and I like driving the cars.”
Patrick is running a 13-race Nationwide Series schedule for JR Motorsports, and has enjoyed the crash course in stock cars despite her disappointing results.
Patrick made her Nationwide debut at Daytona, where she was collected in a mid-race accident and finished 35th. She struggled last week at California to a 31st-place finish.
Next up is Saturday’s race at Las Vegas, then she’s back to IndyCar and, after a four-month break, back to NASCAR with the Nationwide race at New Hampshire in June.
She was pleased with her practice sessions Friday at Las Vegas, as well as with the communication with crew chief Tony Eury Jr. As the team continues to get to know her, it’s easier for Patrick at the track. She was 23rd fastest in the first practice session, and 25th in the final session.
“I think Tony Jr. is beginning to learn my style and the things that I need when I arrive at a track for the very first time,” she said. “I think what I learned last weekend with not having goals, I think that’s a problem. Just thinking I want to go as fast as I can and run up front – that’s probably not going to happen in the beginning, there are too many good drivers here.
“There’s too much to learn. After last weekend, we finished up and said ‘We need to finish in the top 25.’ When I finished the practice sessions, we were in the top 25, so there you go.”
Patrick has had a busy week, going from California to Alabama for the first IndyCar test of the season. Then it was on to Las Vegas and back to a stock car. She called any difficulties in the back-and-forth transition “circumstantial.”
“Getting into the IndyCar again, getting comfortable with how fast they are and the acceleration and the downforce,” she said. “Unfortunately, I didn’t have a very good car, so I didn’t feel very comfortable and that’s why I didn’t like it. There were times we made it better and I was able to feel comfortable again, but that didn’t last maybe one run.
“I come back here and we lower the steering wheel and bring it toward me and we’re trying to make it look more like how all the other drivers have it. Then I went out there and I was freaking out. It was like I was driving on top of the car. I was so uncomfortable, so we came back in and made some changes. I think it’s a little circumstantial. I’m sure there will be that first couple of laps where I say, ‘What do I got here?’ and I need to settle in. It will hopefully be more and more like riding a bicycle.”