Get the latest Danica Patrick news, media, stats, and standings for the NASCAR Nationwide Series driver only on the official site of NASCAR.
Get the latest Danica Patrick news, media, stats, and standings for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver only on the official site of NASCAR.
Who can forget Dale at Daytona or Junior at Michigan?
Patrick optimistic, believes team can string together top-15s MORE: Danica pours out her purse for Us Weekly RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today For one of NASCAR's highest-profile drivers who is much more accustomed to making headlines and shining in the spotlight, Danica Patrick 's sophomore year in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series has been relatively quiet and workmanlike. At times encouraging, at times frustrating. Consistently inconsistent. Yet Patrick remains enthusiastic and optimistic -- partly because her Stewart-Haas Racing team has proven to be among the best in the garage and partly because she is absolutely certain her stock car education has greatly advanced. Even if the scoring pylon doesn't always reflect the effort. "In general we've been running so much better, qualifying better, running better and just generally being much faster than last year … and I'd say in general, not having the results to show for it,'' Patrick said. "I feel like it's been a much better year, but in terms of getting the most points as possible, we haven't really done that. "We've had a lot of mechanical issues and it seems to happen when we're running well. There've been mistakes, whether it be while running on track or making calls or sometimes the pit stops are slow. I think if we can fire on all cylinders and not make mistakes and have clean weekends, I feel like we're a real solid top-15 car." Patrick spoke to NASCAR.com between practice sessions at Watkins Glen International , a day that started out with a blown engine in the opening practice and would culminate with a crash during the afternoon session due to a mechanical issue (shock failure) -- an extreme example of the rough luck her No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet has suffered this year. But at 32, Patrick is experienced enough to know the hard knocks are inevitable, if tough to swallow -- especially when you are under the microscope as she so often is. Her transition to stock cars from IndyCar has naturally come with great interest and great scrutiny. But this is a no-excuses, highly driven racer who nearly won the Indianapolis 500 as a rookie in 2005, and earned worldwide accolades again in NASCAR when she won the Daytona 500 Coors Light Pole Award as a rookie in 2013 -- the first woman in the sport's history to do so. Patrick , however, is not the kind of person to rest on past accomplishment and has methodically worked toward a realistic set of goals: top-20s as a rookie, top-15s this season. But the patient approach aside, Patrick is at heart a competitor and says it's "go time." "I think you get more frustrated for sure, because you're waiting for it to turn and if it hasn't, you're getting frustrated that things aren't going your way," Patrick said. "But the positive side is that the hope is there and the speed is there when everything meets in the middle. "I think the team (has) … great drivers, so more help. I feel like I'm learning for that reason. It doesn't feel like I'm treated any different from the outside, but I really always thought people were relatively fair from the beginning anyway. Yes, people are watching a lot and everybody has opinions for sure, but I expect that I suppose." And Patrick has given them reason to believe in her. She led laps at both Daytona and Talladega. And with a third of the season still to go, Patrick has two top-10s -- twice that of last year. Her eighth-place finish in July's Coke Zero 400 equaled her career best finish at Daytona International Speedway. Her seventh-place at Kansas in May is what she considers her best race weekend from roll-out to load-up. "I think the cars themselves have been just better when they arrive at the track from beginning of the year but especially since the middle of the year,'' Patrick explained. "That's what happened at Kansas, that was the first full new car we got and I finished seventh and we had great night, great weekend. That was the start of those better cars and we've been running and qualifying much better since then. "From the end of last year, we learned that working more methodically through the weekend versus making huge and many changes throughout the practices has also helped us make what we have the best it can be. "That's a challenge in and of itself. I don't think you're going to move mountains with a spring change, so what you've got to do is maximize what you've got … it's more about just optimizing the car itself." Outside the car, Patrick says she couldn't be happier. That's evident to her NASCAR-best million-plus Twitter followers who regularly see photos of her life with boyfriend -- fellow Sprint Cup driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. -- and their puppy, Dallas. She won the Food Network reality competition show "Chopped" one year ago and earned USA Today's "Best Dressed" award as a presenter at the recent ESPY Awards. Beyond that, Patrick says she is also still committed to working on her fledging golf game, something introduced to her by Stenhouse. "I feel like golf might be a little bit like racing where you spend a lot of the time mad and frustrated and say, 'I love it, let's do it again,'" Patrick said with a laugh. "I'd like to see the results come through for the speed of the car and for me. It would be nice to qualify well and run well, to have good pit stops, good restarts and just a solid string of top-15 finishes. "And I believe we can." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news WATCH: Latest NASCAR video PLAY: NASCAR Fantasy Live FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Stewart-Haas Racing drivers react to Tony Stewart's return RELATED: Full coverage of Tony Stewart incident HAMPTON, Ga. -- Normalcy for Tony Stewart may still be months or years away, if it ever comes at all. But his Stewart-Haas Racing teammates believe his return to racing this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway after his involvement in a tragic accident earlier this month at Canandaigua (N.Y.) Motorsports Park that took the life of fellow sprint car driver Kevin Ward Jr. is a step in that direction. While some of the focus surrounding the three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion will be how he handles once again sitting in the cockpit of the No. 14 Chevrolet for the first time since a 36th-place finish at Pocono Raceway on Aug. 3, his SHR stablemates are more focused on offering their boss -- and more importantly, their friend and teammate -- the emotional support necessary to return his life to some form of regularity. "I'm least concerned about the racing side of it," Kevin Harvick said Friday at AMS. "I know for him, that'll be great medicine to have some type of normal activity in his life again that he hasn't been able to have. From a personal standpoint, I'm glad to see my friend and be able to talk to him and be able to support him through what will probably end up being the hardest situation he's ever had to go through in his entire life. That to me is the most important thing, and I just can't wait to see him." Harvick and teammate Danica Patrick haven't spoken to Stewart since the organization announced Thursday that he would make his return to racing, but both are eager to see him around the 1.54-mile speedway. Given that the incident is still so fresh in the minds of everyone involved, it begs the question: Is he ready to return? "I don't think he'd be here if he didn't feel like he was ready," said Harvick, flanked by a Chevrolet SS pace car painted pink in an effort to raise awareness for the American Cancer Society's fight against breast cancer. "He's got a lot of great people around him and a lot of support." Patrick agreed that getting back out there is the first step in Stewart's recovery, a completely different and more difficult rehabilitation process than his reformation after a broken leg sidelined him last August and kept him out for the remainder of the 2013 season. "Obviously, time will tell how it feels to him, but coming back is the first step to seeing that something helps him feel better," said Patrick , in her second year with SHR. "I'm sure being at home and dealing with the thoughts and everything from the tragic accident isn't normal. Something that is a little bit normal, again, I'm sure will be helpful. "We all want to see Tony back in the car. We want to see him back doing what he loves doing, but there's no timeline on when you work through a tragic accident like he went through, but we're all here for him." When Patrick says "we're all," it extends to more than just those involved in the SHR organization. NASCAR has long been a large, extended family, especially when it comes to the close-knit community that exists within the garage. Over the past few weeks, many drivers have offered vocal support of Stewart, embracing their friend and competitor's character and demeanor. "I think everybody (in the garage) has obviously been concerned and wants to support Tony in every way possible," Harvick said. "It's just everybody has waited to see when this day was going to be and obviously Tony knew when it was time for him to come back to the race track and be a part of getting in the car again. So, we'll support him and hopefully get him running good and have a good weekend. "I'm excited to have my friend back. I don't really care about the racing side of it. I'm just happy to have my friend back and able to talk to him and hug him and support him. That's the part I'm looking forward to the most." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news WATCH: Latest NASCAR video PLAY: NASCAR Fantasy Live FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Four spots in the Chase Grid remain heading into the 25th race of the season RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today All 12 race winners in 2014 have clinched a spot in the top 30 in driver points and a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, provided they attempt to qualify for the final two races of the regular season. Those drivers, in current Chase Grid order, include: Jeff Gordon , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Brad Keselowski , Joey Logano , Jimmie Johnson , Kevin Harvick , Carl Edwards , Kyle Busch , Denny Hamlin , AJ Allmendinger , Kurt Busch and Aric Almirola . If a winless driver is victorious this weekend, and is 49 or more points ahead of 31st place, he or she will also clinch a spot. If there is a repeat winner, the top 3 winless drivers would clinch if they are at least 45 points ahead of the fourth highest winless driver after the Oral-B USA 500 (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC). Matt Kenseth , Ryan Newman , Clint Bowyer and Greg Biffle are in the provisional grid for now and on the bubble. The first four on the outside looking in include: Kyle Larson, Kasey Kahne , Austin Dillon and Paul Menard . Kahne is a two-time winner at Atlanta (2006, '09). Kenseth controls his own destiny; he needs 32 points Sunday to claim a spot in the Chase. See the full rundown below. 2014 Chase Grid Outlook Pos. Drivers Wins Points Chase Bonus Pts 1 Jeff Gordon 3 845 9 2 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 3 818 9 3 Brad Keselowski 3 776 9 4 Joey Logano 3 761 9 5 Jimmie Johnson 3 726 9 6 Kevin Harvick 2 721 6 7 Carl Edwards 2 716 6 8 Kyle Busch 1 629 3 9 Denny Hamlin 1 594 3 10 AJ Allmendinger 1 586 3 11 Kurt Busch 1 582 3 12 Aric Almirola 1 559 3 13 Matt Kenseth 0 751 0 14 Ryan Newman 0 710 0 15 Clint Bowyer 0 699 0 16 Greg Biffle 0 694 0 Outside Looking In 17 Kyle Larson 0 668 0 18 Kasey Kahne 0 661 0 19 Austin Dillon 0 654 0 20 Paul Menard 0 649 0 21 Jamie McMurray 0 634 0 22 Marcos Ambrose 0 626 0 23 Brian Vickers 0 621 0 24 Casey Mears 0 561 0 25 Martin Truex Jr. 0 540 0 26 Tony Stewart 0 537 0 27 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 0 514 0 28 Danica Patrick 0 462 0 29 Justin Allgaier 0 425 0 30 David Gilliland 0 376 0 Green = Locked into the Chase, provided they attempt to qualify for the remaining four races Orange = No wins, Inside the current Chase Grid's top 16 - Currently in the Chase, not locked in Red = Inside the current top 30 in points, outside of the Chase cutoff MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news WATCH: Latest NASCAR video PLAY: NASCAR Fantasy Live FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
Danica Patrick spins in Turn 1and collects several cars including Trevor Bayne, Justin Allgaier, and Matt Kenseth at Michigan International Speedway.
Jeff Burton, Regan Smith lauded for fill-in roles in Tony Stewart's absence MORE: Complete coverage of Tony Stewart incident Tony Stewart missed his third consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race this past weekend, and Greg Zipadelli doesn't know when his driver, and close friend, will be back behind the wheel. UPDATE: Stewart to return at Atlanta In the meantime, Stewart's No. 14 team Stewart-Haas Racing team continues to prepare for each week's race. Maybe for the three-time Sprint Cup champion, maybe for another driver such as Jeff Burton , the driver of record for the group these past two weekends during Stewart's absence. Regan Smith filled in for the team at Watkins Glen. "It's just an emotional roller coaster all week, you know what I mean?" Zipadelli said after Saturday night’s Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway. "It is what it is. "We do the best we can with what we've got right now. We'll keep praying, keep our fingers crossed that we get the boss back sooner rather than later." Stewart has not competed in a Sprint Cup race since Aug. 3 when he finished 36th at Pocono Raceway . Less than a week later, on Aug. 9, driver Kevin Ward Jr. was killed when he was struck by Stewart's winged sprint car during an event at Canandaigua (New York) Motorsports Park. An investigation by the Ontario County (New York) Police Department is on-going. Zipadelli, Stewart's crew chief for a decade when the two were paired at Joe Gibbs Racing , is vice president of competition at SHR, and oversees the operation of the No. 14 entry as well as the No. 4 of Kevin Harvick , the No. 10 of Danica Patrick and the No. 41 of Kurt Busch . Burton, winner of 21 Sprint Cup races and headed to NBC Sports in 2015, finished 15th at BMS after running in the top 10 for much of the second half of the race. Damage to the front end of his car eventually negated a shrewd pit call that put him fourth in the running order. It was a better result than the previous week when a broken tail pipe was the culprit for a 37th-place finish, but a missed opportunity as well. "They ran 10th to 15th basically all night," Zipadelli said of the team. "They're still learning each other; got that damage and killed the grille and that got them behind a little bit there and didn't realize it on that long, green flag run and lost a lot of spots." Burton's experience and his demeanor have been a big help as the team has worked its way through these past few weeks, according to Zipadelli. "He's been so calm and cool, and getting these guys as much good feedback as he can," he said. "You couldn't ask for a better guy to get in the car. "It's big shoes to fill, you know? He did a really nice job, he's done a really classy job the last couple of weeks and that's what we needed. "This team needed that, somebody that would be there for them and work through these tough times." Stewart missed the final 15 races of the 2013 season after suffering a broken leg while competing in a sprint car race in Iowa. He returned to NASCAR competition in February. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news WATCH: Latest NASCAR video PLAY: NASCAR Fantasy Live FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet pit boss on the importance of simulations