DANICA PATRICK met with members of the media and discussed making here debut in the Coca-Cola 600, Memorial Day and other topics. Full Transcript
TALK ABOUT YOUR THOUGHTS AS YOU MAKE YOU’RE DEBUT IN THE COCA-COLA 600:
“I don’t really know what to think yet (laughs), but I feel like I’ve got a good distance preview with Darlington being 500 (miles), what’s another hundred after that right? I am excited. I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to race in both of them because of GoDaddy.com and because of Stewart-Haas willing to put me in these 10 races this year. I’m in a very fortunate situation; mind you I will be quite busy today. I believe there is like 10 minutes between each session today that I’m running in. I will be running back and forth, but it’s nothing other driver’s haven’t done before.”
THIS IS YOUR NORTH CAROLINA NASCAR DEBUT, WHERE DOES THE COCA-COLA 600 RANK FOR YOU IN YOUR CAREER AND HOW MANY FEMALE FANS DO YOU THINK WILL BE COMING OUT THIS WEEKEND SPECIFICALLY TO WATCH YOU?
“Okay first question was about racing here in Charlotte for the first time. I did come here in 2010 in the Nationwide Series, so I have been here once before. Obviously, not on Memorial Day weekend as I have been rather busy in another state for the last seven years. I’m excited to see the festivities. Actually, as I look out the window there is a massive American flag. I’m excited to see the sites and see the fans. Driving in last night I saw the sea of campers. It is a nice feeling as a driver, I love to be a part of events that are a big deal and that people watch and follow. Obviously experiencing the race weekend, but I have to say just because it’s a big weekend from a spectators stand point it doesn’t necessarily mean that the racing changes. More than anything it’s about the atmosphere and how that makes you feel and the energy that gives you.
“The other part of your question was about women coming out to the track. I don’t know. I don’t think about that. I don’t think about who is going to be here different than normal. The only thing that I think is really nice is when I see families coming out to the track because their little girls or their kids have someone that they like to cheer for. If that is me, then that gives them a good family outing and that is a good way to spend time together as a family. I know that is why I started racing was because it was a way for my mom and dad, my sister and I to do things together as a family on the weekends. That is how it started for us. I think it is great whenever you can do things together as a family. But outside of that I’m just hoping that it is an entertaining race. I hope it is a good weekend for me that would be great it is always nice to do well on these big weekends. We will soon find out how the weekend is going to unfold with some practice here soon.”
WHAT IS IT LIKE TO WORK FOR KELLEY EARNHARDT AND HER BROTHER DALE (EARNHARDT JR.) COMPARED TO TONY STEWART?
“Well, Kelley (Earnhardt-Miller) has a new baby so I haven’t seen her very much lately. I don’t see her a ton but she is a great person to work with and work for. She is very straight forward and to the point. Obviously, Dale (Earnhardt Jr.) I don’t feel like I have necessarily a much of a ‘boss’ relationship with him. Although, yes that is true, it is more of a teammate feel for me from learning from him. As far as that compares to the Stewart-Haas side everybody is different and unique and that is what makes this world fun. That is what makes it interesting. I can only really describe what it is like and describe the different personalities. Tony (Stewart) has that, you do feel a little bit more of that boss side to him because he is a little more involved I feel like with the team and the operations and keeping things where he wants them, but a significant teammate feel of course too, because we are. I’ve been very fortunate that everyone in NASCAR has been very kind and welcoming and helpful. They are examples.”
A COUPLE OF WEEKS AGO YOU JOKED THAT YOU DIDN’T KNOW WHAT TYPE OF SNACKS YOU MIGHT WANT IN THE CAR AND I’M CURIOUS WITH THE 600 MILES CAN YOU TALK ABOUT IN GENERAL YOUR DIET, WHAT YOU EAT TO KEEP FIT AND IF YOU HAVE FOUND OUT ANY SNACKS YOU MIGHT GET DURING THE RACE?
“I eat healthy all the time. It makes me feel better as well as makes it easier to do photo shoots and look the way I want to look. I work out a lot because I need to obviously stay fit and have endurance for the car. For all those reasons I eat egg whites and oatmeal, salads, sandwiches with good bread and things like that. Try to mix it up at night there was a point in time that I ate a heck of a lot of salmon and vegetables. I still do that too, I would say the track meal every night is salmon, brown rice, grilled peppers and grilled onions, pretty much that is dinner the first night every time because you have to eat the fish first, then it is chicken the next night and so on. I mean I eat healthy all day long yogurts, cottage cheese, etc. Anything healthy I eat. Inside of the car I have a drink mix that I put in my camelback that is a blend of carbohydrate and protein that is recommended by my trainer. As far as snacks go have you ever asked any other drivers what they have? I’m the first? I only said it because I have heard other drivers have snacks. I will have to ask around about that. I think I need a pocket inside my car to have snacks. Maybe I will just put extra drink mix in my drink bottle. I managed okay in the 500 at Darlington so hopefully that last hundred will not be too big of a deal. Although I think it is going to be a fair bit hotter. I think more than anything in all seriousness hydration is going to be the most important element.”
OBVIOUSLY OVER THE LAST YEAR OR SO A LOT HAS BEEN MADE ABOUT YOU BEING A FEMALE DRIVER IN A MANS WORLD HERE, LAST WEEK DARRELL WALLACE MADE HIS NATIONWIDE DEBUT AT IOWA. WHAT WERE YOUR IMPRESSIONS OF THAT AND DO YOU THINK NASCAR IS MOVING CLOSER TO DIVERSITY WHERE ONE DAY YOU ARE NOT GOING TO HAVE PEOPLE SAYING YOU ARE A FEMALE DRIVER HE IS A BLACK DRIVER?
“I met him; he was on the truck with me on the ride around. He was a nice guy; he is from Charlotte I found. We got a couple of minutes to talk and he did a great job in the race for sure. I don’t know. I think that over time it just happens. I know that there is a diversity program in NASCAR to bring it to the series more. But, I always use and example as being a girl is that there are girls that come through in racing. If it takes one out of a hundred guys to find a good one (I’m just using a random number) one out of hundred girls takes a hell of a lot longer than a guy. It just takes more time. I’m sure that there are all kinds of different genders and ethnicities out there trying racing and it just takes time. I think that in general as a culture in this country we are very open to new and different things. It is just going to take time.”
DO YOU GET MANY OPPORTUNITIES TO ENCOUNTER THE TROOPS OR THE MILITARY FOLKS AND YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT MEMORIAL DAY?
“Actually I was just in Rock Hill, South Carolina last night. Apparently not very far away, just down I-77. I did an appearance for Academy which is a sports and outdoors store. They have been a partner of mine for a few years. They took care of a few military families, husband and wife, the kids everybody. I met them got to talk to them all individually, sign some diecast cars for them and them Academy gave them all hundred dollar gift cards to go shopping, everyone including the kids. That was very cool. We made yesterday special for the military families. What it reminds you is that they are families and these men and women that serve our country they are leaving behind a lot. They are not just young kids they have children. I think it’s a great thing that we have Memorial Day to put that in front of our mind instead of letting it be a sub thought to things. It’s a good reason to celebrate for those who aren’t here hopefully they come home soon.”
IS IT ONLY NATURAL THAT SOME OF YOUR THOUGHTS GO TO INDY? ARE THERE ANY PANGS AT ALL WISHING YOU COULD BE THERE?
“Whenever I’m busy that is sort of what I am focused on. Last weekend when I had time to watch qualifying I was thinking about Indy and I was thinking about how I would be doing if I was there. I can imagine every thought that is going through all those drivers’ heads. When someone comes off the track and says ‘I don’t know I don’t think we can go any faster that was a pretty tough run as it was’ I can imagine what that is like. I know what that is like for those drivers that are on the spot and trying to qualify. I can imagine all those thoughts. I didn’t feel like I wanted to be there. I just had a lot of memories of what was going on. I’m very pleased that I’m in NASCAR. I’m very happy; I’m having a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to a different challenge this weekend.”
WERE YOU SURPRISED THAT BUMP DAY ONLY HAD 33 CARS TO FULFILL? IT SEEMED SO ANTICLIMACTIC EVEN COMPARED TO LAST YEAR IT WAS REALLY SURPRISING.
“Yeah it was climatic last year for me as I’m sitting at the front of the line and it starts raining. I think that is obviously a result and I’m not there anymore to know exactly what is going on, but I know it’s a big result of there being a lack of engines. With some of the teams changing away from Lotus engines and everybody wanting Chevy engines. Go Chevy! I think that is more of the source of it. I believe that there were quite a few more drivers that probably wanted to do it that just couldn’t get the package put together, couldn’t get the engine to do it. It is a bummer, obviously the race has been around, what is it the 96th running this year. It has been around for a hundred years. It is a shame whenever you see things take a hit but I think it was more of a product of the engine situation than anything.”
WHAT CHALLENGES DO YOU EXPECT TO FACE THIS WEEKEND BEING HERE IN CHARLOTTE AS OPPOSED TO INDIANAPOLIS? DO YOU THINK ANYTHING YOU LEARNED FROM DRIVING THE INDIANAPOLIS 500 WILL PREPARE YOU FOR THIS WEEKEND?
“Yeah, it is a whole different weekend. It is a whole different car it is a whole different everything. I don’t think that my experiences from Indy necessarily will help me this weekend as a direct result. I think that my experience over the last few years of racing and seven professional years in IndyCar are what’s going to help me overall. I’m sure it’s going to be a challenging weekend obviously putting the Cup schedule together and doing this race is going to be a challenge. In practice I go from Nationwide to Cup car to Nationwide to qualifying the Cup car. On Saturday I go from two practices straight into the race of the Nationwide. That is going to be my challenge. That is something that I have only experienced, I mean I experienced it at Darlington and a little bit at Daytona. It was quite spread out at Daytona and the cars felt so similar. Really I’ve only done it one other time. That is going to be my challenge. For me it’s just a matter of staying focused, staying positive and staying hydrated.”
IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU ARE SO COMFORTABLE IN THIS ENVIRONMENT AND YOU ARE SO CONTENT TO BE HERE THAT IT’S NOT STRANGE TO NOT BE SOMEWHERE ELSE THIS WEEKEND IS THAT ACCURATE?
“Yeah, that is probably right. That is right. The reason why I came to race NASCAR was to do all of these things. I was ready to leave IndyCar. I wanted to be here. When you are not missing something, longing for something you don’t really think about it that much. It’s like that girlfriend you didn’t want to have anymore. You don’t think about her anymore. Or ex-husband, we all seem old enough to be of that point. You just don’t. Indy, I have lots of great memories from there and probably the part of me that doesn’t feel quite as longing for it is that there is still a chance that I could do it again. It’s not gone. I’m excited about this weekend.”