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
Clint Bowyer and Johnny Sauter talk about their solid runs in the Pocono Mountains 150 at Pocono Raceway, a track Sauter describes as one he isn't particularly fond of.
Get the latest Kasey Kahne news, media, stats, and standings for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver only on the official site of NASCAR.
Listen to what all the top finishers ahd to say about today's Pocono Mountains 125 .
After losing lead in closing laps of NNS race, JGR driver leaves Cup race early RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Team owner Joe Gibbs said it was "frustration." Crew chief Dave Rogers said it was "a miscommunication." Driver Kyle Busch ? He wasn't talking, having departed after his car was damaged beyond repair, the result of which left the Joe Gibbs Racing owner with a 36th-place finish in Saturday night's Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway . It was the fourth consecutive finish of 36th or worse for Busch, who had finished second in three of four NASCAR Sprint Cup races before this latest slide. Sixth in points after this year's Indianapolis stop, Busch has now fallen 11 positions to 17th. Damage from an incident involving his No. 18 Toyota was too severe for repairs, leaving Busch to exit his car with less than 100 laps remaining in the race. Radio conversations between Busch and Rogers appeared to get heated before Busch's departure. "I still don't know what happened," Rogers said of the race-ending incident. "I think we got into the fence and I could hear the spotter say the tires were up, I heard Kyle say something about right-front suspension (but) I couldn't put it together. "I got frustrated with Kyle because I wasn't sure what he was saying; he got frustrated with me because I wasn't fixing the race car. It's Bristol, it's loud, and a lot of things are going on." Busch, who had qualified fourth in the 43-car field, drove into the lead early. But a pit road speeding penalty on Lap 63 dropped him from first to the tail end of the lead-lap cars. Collected in a five-car accident at Lap 125 , Busch was unable to crack the top 10 for the remainder of the race. That incident began when Brian Vickers and Kyle Larson made contact in front of Busch. As he slowed to avoid contact, Clint Bowyer got into the back of Busch's car, damaging the left rear. "We were really fast tonight, had a top-four qualifying effort, then we drove up into the lead, thought we were going to have a shot to win it and then we got caught up in someone else's mess early on so everyone's frustrated," Rogers said. "It's been a long month. Emotions just overflowed like they always do at Bristol. It's really no big deal." Rogers said he thought the final incident cut a tire, but his driver said the suspension on the car was broken. "He said, 'No, you didn't fix the problem. The suspension is broke,' " Rogers said. "I said, 'Well, if the suspension is broke then drive it to the truck' … there's nothing you can do about it 50 laps to go in the race. "But he's right. The suspension's broke. That car was not salvageable. We couldn't get it back on the track no matter what we wanted to do. But it was just a miscommunication what we needed to work on." Gibbs said he spoke to both Busch and Rogers after the race. "That's just pro sports," Gibbs said. "Every now and then you get frustrated. "They had three weeks … they were second, second, second. I think the night was totally frustrating. *(Kyle) had a great car and it was a series of circumstances. Something like that happens in pro sports you can get frustrated." Rogers said the heated conversations wouldn't impact his working relationship with his driver. "If Kyle Busch wasn't passionate, I probably wouldn't work for him," he said. "And if I wasn't passionate, Kyle Busch probably wouldn't want me as his crew chief. You've got two passionate people that want to win more than anything. And sometimes that passion gets the best of you. Tonight's that night. Kyle and I are fine. He's still my buddy, I love him to death and I'm very confident he'd tell you the same about me. "We both got frustrated tonight, but it's such a small deal. It really doesn't even factor into the Chase. We have some really good cars sitting on jack stands getting ready to go. All the guys at Joe Gibbs Racing are busting their butts and they've been building better and better cars. Lately, we've had speed in our cars and we're racing our worst stuff. We're saving our good stuff for the Chase." NASCAR.com's Alan Cavanna contributed to this report. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news WATCH: Latest NASCAR video PLAY: NASCAR Fantasy Live FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Keep tabs on all three national series this weekend RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today This weekend brings the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series , NASCAR Nationwide Series and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series to Bristol Motor Speedway . The Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race is on Saturday, Aug. 23, at 7:30 p.m. ET with coverage on ABC. Click here for alternate channels in 15 markets where ABC affiliates are not showing the race: Find options for watching the race in the following markets -- Austin, Texas; Charlotte, North Carolina; Casper, Wyoming; Cheyenne, Wyoming; Duluth, Minnesota; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania ; Houston, Texas; Louisville, Kentucky; Nashville, Tennessee; St. Joseph, Missouri; San Antonio, Texas; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Washington, D.C.; Weslaco, Texas. Click here for more information. The Nationwide Series Food City 300 is on Friday, Aug. 22, at 7:30 p.m. ET with coverage on ESPN. The Camping World Truck Series UNOH 200 was scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 20 at 8 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1, but it was rain delayed until Thursday at 10 a.m. ET. For more information on track times, press conferences and GarageCam, you can check out this weekend's schedule . For TV times, see this week's TV schedule . We know you may not have the time to watch the race action without any interruptions, so if you're on the go, here's how to keep up at Bristol. NASCAR.com's live Sprint Cup Series leaderboard , Nationwide Series leaderboard and Camping World Truck Series leaderboard update in real-time and offer constant text updates of lead changes, cautions, strategies, strong runs and everything in between. On the go? Download the NASCAR Mobile app to follow the leaderboards live from your device. NASCAR Nationwide Series RaceBuddy is back on NASCAR.com and NASCAR Mobile . Get 10 live high-definition feeds, including views of pit road and battle cams. Kevin Harvick , Regan Smith , Chase Elliott , Elliott Sadler , Kyle Larson and Kyle Busch are the drivers who will be featured. Lap-by-Lap will keep you caught up even if you can take a peek here and there. Check in now and then to read back through all the laps you've missed, or keep an eye on the feed for real-time race updates. We'll also send race updates via Twitter through the official @NASCAR and @NASCARStats handles. Haven't tried RaceView yet? If you sign up, you'll get virtual video of cars on the track from various angles and hear what your favorite team is saying over the radio. Use it as a second screen or as your only screen. Just want to scan the radios? You can have that too with RaceView Audio . On a mobile device? Get RaceView Mobile here . If you want to be more involved in the on-track action, you can manage your fantasy team on NASCAR.com and follow your team's performance in NASCAR Fantasy Live . Mobile users can also download NASCAR Connect , a game from OneUp Sports that allows users to play other fans with race predictions, for some off-track competition while drivers battle it out on the track. Live Press Pass video streams will keep the NASCAR action rolling even after the winner goes in and out of Victory Lane. Catch interviews with the top finishers immediately following the checkered flag for the Sprint Cup Series and Nationwide Series, and stay tuned to NASCAR.com throughout the week for the latest news. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news WATCH: Latest NASCAR video PLAY: NASCAR Fantasy Live FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Driver holds off field in green-white-checkered finish
See where each driver finished the Bristol night race and what put them there
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series comes to Pocono