DANICA PATRICK met with members of the media at Chicagoland Speedway and discussed being at Chicagoland and having family at the track, who she is pulling for in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, changes at JR Motorsports and more. Full transcript.
TALK ABOUT BEING HERE AT CHICAGOLAND SPEEDWAY, I GUESS IT COULD BE CONSIDERED YOUR HOME TRACK.
“It will be. It’s good to be close to home. There’s quite a few people coming out to the track. I have family members coming from Canada. So, there’s going to be a few people here. I just love Chicago. I love being in the city. I don’t have a lot of happy feelings from last night’s football game, but other than that it’s good to be in Chicago.”
BOTH YOUR CAR OWNERS ARE IN THE CHASE, WHO ARE YOU ROOTING FOR, (TONY) STEWART OR (DALE EARNHARDT) JUNIOR TO WIN IT?
“Well, I guess since I’ll be driving for Stewart-Haas next year, I guess it would mean I would probably be cheering for Tony a little bit more since that will be my full-time team next year, if I had to pick one. That’s a really unfair question.”
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE CHANGES ANNOUNCED LAST WEEK BY JR MOTORSPORTS, TONY EURY’S DEPARTURE?
“With Pops (Tony Eury) being gone, as I said last week I had a really good relationship with him. I really liked him. He’s definitely one of those old-school guys. So, it will be sad to not see him around but that’s business. As far as the new arrival, I don’t know him that well and I’m sure I’ll get to know him as the year goes on but there’s not too much left. With any organization it’s tough to turn the ship instantly. I’m sure he will be doing his best and trying to help things.”
DOES THE FACT THAT YOU RACED HERE SIX OR SEVEN WEEKS AGO HELP YOU AT ALL THIS WEEKEND IN EITHER THE NATIONWIDE OR THE CUP CAR?
“Yeah, I think it does a little bit. It definitely wasn’t that long ago as I was flipping through my notebook. I feel like this year I had to write down what I felt at each track because they are all so similar, to remember what the feeling was. It came back pretty quick. I know it’s going to be different in the Cup car for sure. Everything is more difficult in the Cup car. I think the weather will help. Six or so weeks ago, whenever we were here it was very hot. I think the cool weather will hopefully help with the grip and make things a little bit easier, a little less slippery and greasy. When I say that I guess I’m thinking of somewhere like Atlanta where it just gets really slippery and you’re kind of fighting for grip.”
IF YOU WERE A BETTING GIRL, WHERE WOULD YOU PUT YOUR MONEY ON THESE TWELVE DRIVERS THAT OPPORTUNITY TO WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP?
“I don’t know. I think when the Chase comes around it’s about momentum and who is coming into it with momentum. Then again, you look at what Tony (Stewart) did last year and just came in. I can remember watching the interviews and the few races leading up to the end of the regular season and into the Chase, and he was getting put on the spot every weekend about making it in. Then he came in and just kicked ass. That’s what can happen, and that’s what makes it exciting. That’s what creates good story lines for these last 10 races of the season and obviously the ones before it leading up to it. So, it’s a good marketing thing and good for PR what NASCAR has created. But it’s tough on someone who had the points lead and now comes in with only maybe a few points on the board. I think it’s going to be a tough championship. You can never count guys like Tony (Stewart) out for sure. You’ve got Jimmie (Johnson) and Denny’s (Hamlin) has been on a roll and I think Dale Jr. has got a good shot. It’s going to be interesting to watch. I’m looking forward to it.”
YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT FAMILY COMING IN FROM CANADA?
“Yeah, my mom’s side of the family is like right across the border from Minnesota. They saddled up and headed on down a few days ago.”
WHEN NASCAR RACES IN INDY, TONY STEWART TALKS ABOUT HOW IT’S ALMOST LESS RELAXING THAT WEEKEND BECAUSE HE HAS SO MANY PEOPLE TO MANAGE, IS THAT TRUE FOR YOU WHEN YOU RACE HERE? IS IT MORE PRESSURE ON YOU?
“I think when you have people that are coming to the track, they are coming to support you of course but they are coming to see you too. You want to make time for them for making the effort of support you. In my situation, which is trying to create realistic expectations, low expectations for the people coming to the track, basically you are not going to see me until after race. Something like that, so they don’t get their hope up and think they are going to spend an hour hanging out with me knocking back beers before the race. That’s just not how it goes. So, I feel like we let them know how it’s going to go. I always encourage people to come with friends that way you have some entertainment built in. Definitely in NASCAR it’s a little different than IndyCar, because IndyCar had a hospitality area and places like that where people could eat and hang out. In NAS CAR they are all outside of the track. It’s kind of a bit of a haul to get there and back. I don’t even know where I would send them if I were to send them to a hospitality. They definitely have to find their own fun. It is a bit more work. It doesn’t make the weekend easier, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate that people show their support and car and want to be a part of it and see it. Ultimately I’m glad that they come and I’m glad they don’t come all the time.”
TOMORROW NIGHT IS THE INDYCAR FINAL AT FONTANA, DO YOU HAVE A ROOTING CHOICE THERE?
“Well it’s either Will (Power) or Ryan (Briscoe). I heard Ryan crashed and he has to start 10 spots back because he had to do an engine change. I don’t know. I think Will’s strong suit is definitely the road courses. Ryan is good on the road courses too but I feel like it’s going to be a tough one. To be honest, I would like to see Will get it because he came so close last year or the year before. I’d like to see him get it. He’s a fantastic driver and he’s accomplished a lot of great things and really raised the levels, especially on the road course racing. I’d like to see him get it. He’s a really nice guy.”
COULD YOU TELL ME HOW IMPORTANT YOUR FORMULA FOUR TRAINING AND DRIVING WAS IN YOUR CAREER?
“I think that everything that I’ve done has played a part in who I am as a driver for sure. It forced me to drive cars that I wasn’t necessarily comfortable with and didn’t really know. The bottom line is I didn’t really learn about cars and they didn’t really change the car a lot for me. They kind of had their favorite on the team that they would change the car around. Being on big teams, they had one engineer. It forced me to learn how to drive cars that I didn’t necessarily like though. More than anything when I lived there I learned about life and I feel like I grew a lot. I became a lot more wise. I came back a little less open and that’s probably was a good protection thing for me and allowed me to be smarter and not to jump into things too quickly. I just learned a lot about life which was invaluable. Of course when I got the ride with Bobby Rahal back in Formula Atlanta, seeing the commitment that I made to move there at the age that I did and leave my family was another really big thing. I wouldn’t take it back, it was an important experience for me and it’s led me to where I am.”
WHAT DO YOU EXPECT AT KENTUCKY COMING UP?
“It’s another 1.5-mile oval. It’s rough. Austin (Dillon) won that one and he’s very fast. I don’t necessarily think I was super comfortable that night. Remembering those things are going to be important for going back the second time and being able to improve from last time and get better. I really felt like coming away from that weekend while it wasn’t a complete disaster I really felt like there wasn’t anything special about it. Hopefully when we go back this time next weekend it will be a little more special.”
IT WAS ALMOST A TOP-10 FINISH SO IT WASN’T TOO BAD.
“Right, it’s just sometimes as a driver you’re out there and you don’t feel like you’ve passed anyone or anything all day long. That was kind of how I felt that day or that night. I didn’t really do anything; it just was the result that it was. I’d like to go back and I would like to have more speed and be able to work my way up more and pass some cars. I’d like to come away with a better feeling and hopefully a better result.”
GODADDY, SINCE THEY HAVE HAD THE MANAGEMENT CHANGE LOOKS LIKES THEY’VE CHANGED THEIR APPROACH TO ADVERTISING, WHAT KIND OF ADS ARE YOU DOING OVER THERE?
“It’s GoDaddy’s ad of course. When the new group came on they’re always trying to look for new ways to reach more demographics I’m sure. They hired a new agency. That’s the biggest thing. So that’s going to change things. It was all done in house forever. I would say that’s probably the biggest reason for a change and a general change in the ads.”