Danica Patrick and the No. 10 Code 3 Associates Ford Fusion team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) return to Kansas Speedway in Kansas City for Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race ready to rebound after back-to-back DNFs at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway and Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.
Two weeks ago, Patrick’s race was cut short with less than 75 laps to go as her No. 10 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. Last week at Talladega, Patrick ran inside the top-10 and 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 five-minute time limit imposed by NASCAR officials, thus ending Patrick’s day and relegating the team to a 21st-place finish.
After two weeks of disappointment, returning to Kansas couldn’t have come at a better time for Patrick and the No. 10 Code 3 Associates Ford team. Kansas Speedway is the site of Patrick’s first NASCAR Cup Series top-10 finish on a 1.5-mile track. She earned that result in May 2014, when she took the checkered flag seventh. It was one of seven top-10 finishes Patrick has scored thus far in her NASCAR Cup Series career.
All told, Patrick has competed in 10 NASCAR Cup Series races at Kansas. In that time, she has scored one top-10 and four top-20 finishes. In addition, in two NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at the track, she finished a career-best 10th in October 2012 and took home a 15th-place result in October 2011.
Patrick has also made six IndyCar Series starts at Kansas. In 2005, she qualified on the pole for the IndyCar race at the track. Her best finish was a fifth-place effort in 2009 and she scored a total of three top-10 finishes at the track in that series. Aside from a 19th-place finish due to a mechanical failure in 2008, Patrick didn’t finish outside the top-11 in IndyCar Series competition at Kansas.
After the races at Charlotte and Talladega, the No. 10 Code 3 Associates Ford team hopes a return to Kansas Speedway, where Patrick has run well in three major professional racing series, will result in on-track success in the form of a solid run in Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400.
What is the most difficult part of the track to figure out at Kansas?
“It’s a fast track. I think it’s the same problem we face at most tracks we go to – you have to get through the center well enough to be comfortable enough to be very aggressive with the throttle at the same time. I think, for sheer speed, you can’t be too loose but, in the race, you can’t be too tight or you’ll fall back. These cars are finicky. It’s about focusing on the small things and getting the most out of the car itself instead of trying to throw the kitchen sink at it if you’re a little off. It’s all in the little details. I think that’s the most important thing.”
On Saturday, you’re going to speak to a large contingent of Girl Scouts from the Kansas City area. What would be your advice to them?
“I would say: ‘Stay true to yourself and what you believe in.’ I think that’s how I’ve gotten to this point in my career and my life in general. I decided when I was 10 years old that I wanted to be a racecar driver. I dreamed big, believed in myself, worked really hard, took chances and made the most of every opportunity I was given.”
Hollywood Casino 400 Notes of Interest:
- The Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City will mark Danica Patrick’s 186th career start in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. In 10 previous starts at the 1.5-mile oval, Patrick’s best NASCAR Cup Series finish is a seventh-place effort she earned in May 2014. In two NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at the track, she finished a career-best 10th in October 2012.
- Patrick has also made six IndyCar Series starts at Kansas. In 2005, she qualified on the pole, and she earned one top-five finish and three top-10s at the track in that series.
- Code 3 Associates is a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to providing professional animal disaster response and resources to communities, as well as administering professional training to individuals and agencies involved in animal-related law enforcement and emergency response. Its mission is accomplished through hands-on animal rescue and care operations during disaster events in the United States and Canada, and through certified animal welfare training seminars, which include animal cruelty training for investigators. More information is available at code3associates.org.
- 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.
TSC PR/Photo Getty Images for NASCAR