CHEVY NSCS AT HOMESTEAD: Danica Patrick Press Conf. Transcript

2013-11-16


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TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT

NOVEMBER 16, 2013

 

DANICA PATRICK, NO. 10 GODADDY – IT’S GO TIME CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media and discussed her first year of competition in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, her plan over the off season and other topics.  Full Transcript:

 

IS THERE SOMETHING THAT REALLY STANDS OUT TO YOU AS YOUR ROOKIE SEASON IN THE NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES COMES TO A CLOSE? 
“No more rookie meetings, well, that is not true.  Apparently the rulebook says that they decide when you are not a rookie anymore.  So hopefully no more rookie meetings.  The biggest learning curve is usually the first year, so the most has been learned this year and I just look forward to the results improving.  I look forward to better weekends and that with hard work will happen in return. So the first year is just about done.”

 

AS YOU LOOK BACK ON THIS YEAR CAN YOU TELL WHEN YOU GUYS HAD ISSUES HOW MUCH OF IT WAS PART OF YOUR LEARNING CURVE AND HOW MUCH OF IT WAS AN ISSUE WITH THE CAR NOT BEING WHAT YOU WANTED IT TO BE? 
“In the simple answer I have no idea.  I think that is part of the problem in the first year for me especially just, you know I was saying last night to one of my engineers that we brought as good of stuff as we could here to this last race and it’s going a little bit better in practice and a little bit better.  So I said that is good.  It helps with me and my confidence because it’s hard for me to know if it’s me or the car.  So I said that specific thing last night.  It’s important to keep confidence up so I said this helps with me to be able to be more confident that we just need to do everything we can to be more prepared every single weekend.  From a car and set-up aspect and there just is a lot more natural speed in what we have had out there this weekend.  It feels like I feel potential to actually, you know the car doesn’t feel right yet, we are okay.  It seems like sometimes throughout the year the car has felt pretty good and it’s not fast.  So I think that there is a tremendous amount that I still need to learn for sure and a lot of stuff that I need to work on for making the weekends more smooth on things like anticipating how big of changes need to happen from practice to qualifying and qualifying to the race.  And the things I need out of practice that result in a good race car those are all things that I need to learn. I need to be able to identify what is happening with the car better every time I’m in it so that I can help more.  But at the end of the day the natural speed that is in the car does need to continue to get better.  I think this weekend was a show of that and so far to us.  I don’t think that’s a mystery.  I think that at the beginning of the year we struggled even more. That is what is tough about the Cup is that you can’t be a little off.  The difference between a good and a bad weekend is so much bigger than in the Nationwide Series or anywhere else.  The competition, the level of effort is so high.  You have to always be on your game.”

 

THERE HAS BEEN A LOT OF DEBATE OVER THE PAST COUPLE OF WEEKS ABOUT WHETHER IT IS A GOOD IDEA OR NOT FOR DRIVER’S TO COMPETE IN THE NATIONWIDE SERIES.  GOING INTO NEXT SEASON DO YOU PLAN ON RUNNING SOME NATIONWIDE RACES?  OR IF NOT IS THAT SOMETHING THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO DO? 
“Yeah, I would like to do more Nationwide races.  I think 10 would be really nice to be able to do to mix in some races that I feel like I just need more track time overall on the weekend to races that I feel like I can finish well.  I think that a mix of both of those would be a lot of fun and good for me.  I think that, you didn’t necessarily ask, but I think that it is a good thing to have Cup guys to be able to run in Nationwide.  I think it is really cool you have to designate your series.  I think that is great for the sport.  It allows certain drivers to be able to get more publicity for their results, but most importantly I think it allows Cup teams to be able to see what drivers in the Nationwide Series and Truck Series for that matter can do against the guys that go out and win in the Cup Series.  I think that shows a lot about the drivers that they are.  It gives those Cup owners confidence in their ability.  It gives the drivers a good marker to what you need to do and how you need to run.  I think it’s a good thing.”

 

WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO IN THE NEXT SIX OR SEVEN WEEKS AS FAR AS TRYING TO GET BETTER? 
“Take a few weeks off.  I mean we are in the car 38 out of 40 weekends a year.  There will be testing and we will get back into it.  I remember the days I think one year when I raced IndyCar I think I was out of the car for six months.  This is just a blink.  Next week or the week after is Thanksgiving and then it will be banquet and ACA’s (American Country Awards) and then it will be GoDaddy’s Superbowl commercials and then their holiday party.  Then it will be the last weeks of December which will be Christmas and then New Year’s will come around and we will be in the car the second week of January.  Time flies it’s not that long.  So I mean I think that there are a lot of things at Stewart-Haas that are new and changing.  It will be a good time for the teams and crews to recharge and also be able to start working with some of the new people we have involved in the team and work on the cars.  I think that is something we saw at the beginning of this year was that we have got to do whatever we can in the off season to get the cars to be faster and have more grip when next year starts.  Some of that comes from testing, but usually that’s where it finalizes.  A lot of times it gets done in the wind tunnel and R&D and with engineers and crew chiefs thinking together.  Then usually go and take those things to the race track and see what really works.  It’s usually kind of the final straw.  I have no doubt that we will get to that and I’m sure I will find myself at Nashville a couple of times next year at the beginning of the year testing those things out.  Then we will be ready to start the season. I think it goes by very quick.”

 

WITH MARK MARTIN I GUESS COMING ON TO BE YOUR GO TO GUY FROM WHAT I UNDERSTAND OVER NEXT YEAR AND THEN YOU HAVE ALL OF THESE ACCOMPLISHED DRIVERS AT STEWART-HAAS RACING AS WELL.  FIRST HOW DO YOU EXPECT MARK TO ASSIST AND THEN EVEN BEYOND THAT CAN YOU HAVE TOO MUCH INPUT FROM ALL THESE DIFFERENT VOICES? 
“I don’t think that you can ever have too much input.  Maybe from person to person they have different preferences to what they like, but I sure like it.  I sure like hearing advice about what to do.  It doesn’t mean you go out and implement every single thing and try every single thing, but there is going to be a situation that comes up and you are going to remember what somebody said and you are going to try it.  So, I like asking a lot of questions.  No different than me walking down pit lane last night for qualifying and stopping by Mark’s car and talking to him and asking what he is going to do for qualifying.  Then we were just talking about working on things for next year and how nice it is when there is natural speed in the car and then you can work on little things to fine tune.  Sometimes it’s not necessarily just about what do you do in the race car.  Everybody has got their own style, everybody has got their own way that they feel comfortable and really there are no two drivers the same.  Sometimes it just comes from having another driver’s perspective on what things need to be worked on and some of it’s about driving.  But a lot of it is about team and about communication and about what we need to improve overall as a team from somebody like Mark Martin that has so much experience and has accomplished so much.  He has seen a lot of different teams.  That is a great perspective.  He is there to ask driving questions, but he is also there to just help overall from a team perspective.”

 

HOW DO YOU DEFINE WHAT DARIO FRANCHITTI WAS ABLE TO DO DURING HIS CAREER IN A RACE CAR AND WHAT STANDS OUT MOST TO YOU ABOUT HIS CAREER? 
“He came back to IndyCar and he sure won a lot.  He came to NASCAR after winning the championship and winning the Indy 500 and then he went back to IndyCar and won the championship and won the Indy 500.  I think just his ability and confidence and style and knowledge about open wheel cars and his love for it.  He was a great teammate.  I really enjoyed being his teammate in 2007.  We had a lot of fun and I learned a lot. I learned a lot about how someone can be so good at setting up a car.  He really was very good at that.  I’m sure that it was not a fun decision, but it was at the end of the day we race and it’s our job and we love it.  But it’s not worth risking your health for.  I think it’s admirable that he put that first.  I think he has nothing that he can look back on and think I wish I could of, should of, would have, done that.  He did it.  He wanted to keep going and this is just my assumption, he wanted to keep going because he loves racing.  He felt like he could still perform at the highest level.  So therefore he wanted to keep going, but his health is more important.  Like I said I enjoyed being his teammate.  He is an extremely talented and accomplished driver and I’m sure he has more to contribute from a different perspective now.  I wish him peace in all of that because I’m sure that it was not necessarily something he saw coming.  But he is doing it and good for him.”

 

HOW MUCH RIBBING EITHER GOOD NATURED OR OTHERWISE DO YOU AND RICKY (STENHOUSE, JR.) DO ABOUT ROOKIE OF THE YEAR?  DO YOU KEEP UP WITH POINTS? 
“Not much ribbing anymore it’s pretty obvious.”

 

WAS THERE A POINT WHERE YOU GUYS WERE SORT OF INTENSELY RIVAL ABOUT THAT PARTICULAR THING? 
“No, I think that there was a certain level of sensitivity to it.  It was for sure a long shot for me.  I mean it was going to need to be a really good rookie season.  There were some really good things that happened.  I mean Daytona was a great way to start.  Then it went to Martinsville that was a great run.  We just didn’t really get a lot better.  We got better, but there were challenges along the way.  He just came off of two Nationwide championships.  That was going to be tough to compete with no matter who you are.  I struggled to compete for wins.  It was going to be a huge accomplishment if I did it.  We didn’t really have too much banter about it I don’t think.  I think that it was just something that we didn’t really talk about.  We talked a lot more about the cars.  We talked a lot more about the team.  We talked a lot more about purely what happened that day.  He spent a lot of time trying to cheer me up after I was so disappointed after qualifying or after a race sometimes.  I think as he said, I don’t remember what we were talking about, but I think it was just last night.  Something about being hard on myself and he said ‘she is hard enough on herself already; she doesn’t need any more reason.’  That pretty much sums it up.  I am, I get frustrated and I know what I can do and want to do.  When it doesn’t happen I do get upset.  He was good moral support.”

 

WE JUST COMPLETED THE DARRYL GWYNN HOT RODS AND REELS CHARITY FISHING TOURNAMENT.  THE WHEELCHAIR THAT WAS GIVEN WAS CUSTOMIZED AFTER YOURSELF.  I JUST WANTED TO KNOW HOW IT FEELS THAT YOU JUST GAVE THE GIFT OF MOBILITY, INDEPENDENCE AND FREEDOM TO SOMEONE? 
“I can’t imagine what that is like.  I don’t know, but I can only imagine that it’s a freeing feeling.  It’s an exciting feeling and just from my perspective it’s very cool that I can be a part of things like that being in my position.  It is an honor and I’m sure it was a lot of fun.”

 

EVEN IF IT’S NOT NECESSARILY COMPETITION RELATED WHAT ARE A COUPLE OF YOUR FAVORITE MOMENTS FROM THE YEAR? 
“Not competition that would mean basically in the whole year of 2013 what were my favorite things?  Probably being able to hit a golf ball off the tee box was a pretty fun thing for me this year, learning how to do that.  You can’t imagine how many strokes it takes when you can’t get it off the tee box.  It just takes a long time.  I’m not going to put a 10 down every time.  I just don’t have it in me, so I just put smiley faces, learning how to golf.  I mean qualifying on the pole for the Daytona 500 and all that happened around it was a great way to start the year.  Just having family around on the weekends, race weekends.  This one is going to be another one of them.  Both of our families are going to be down.  Ricky’s dad made me breakfast this morning.  I don’t normally let people make me breakfast.  I have a very particular breakfast, but that is fun.  My parents and sister and her husband get here today.  Just having everybody around and having fun on the race weekends.  Making dinner together and hanging out outside the bus, making breakfast, just having everybody around has been really fun.”  

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