Q&A with defending Motegi winner Danica Patrick
IndyCar Series driver Danica Patrick participated in a Q&A session to discuss the upcoming IndyCar Series race at Twin Ring Motegi. The transcript is below.
Q. Danica, the next race on the schedule is a place that is very special to you. Twin Ring Motegi, where you earned your first win last season.
DANICA PATRICK: I never come back to a track as the previous year's winner as an IndyCar (Series) driver. There's a level of confidence that comes with being the defending winner and there's some excitement as well. But just going back to Japan is always nice for me.
Q. Motegi has been a place that you have always run well at. You're first front-row start came there and obviously the first win was there. What about it suits your style?
DANICA PATRICK: I guess what I want out of a race car suits Motegi. The characteristics that I like in a car work well there. That's all I can really pinpoint. There are tracks that you get on well with and there are tracks that you don't and sometimes you have no idea why (that happens). I think that Turns 3 and 4 are the most important turns there and that's the focus. We've always managed to improve car and get it to go around there, and I've always driven for good teams.
Q. Do you think the oval aerodynamic changes will make a big difference into getting into Turns 3 and 4, which really make a lap at Motegi.
DANICA PATRICK: I don't know what it will be like this time because I'm sure the aero bits will be on. I'm not really sure which bits we will use or how much is different from the past, but those changes will only help us. In the past, we've gotten to the point where we're flat around the whole track. That's challenging, but it encourages you to get a car that you really believe in and are comfortable with. It's all about getting into Turn 3.
Q. The race is later in the year. Do you expect the change to affect the race.
DANICA PATRICK: I'm sure the characteristics will be the same. We've faced rain a lot and humidity and cooler temperatures and weepers and a lot of different things that are challenging. I've never been to Motegi in September, but hopefully the conditions will allow us to get as much track time as possible. It seems like this year that there is less track time. It's really challenging to not have a couple of practice sessions before you go out to qualify. Hopefully we'll get all the practice time and we'll get the race in when we're supposed to. When you get time in the car to improve, you improve the racing, too. People learn how to race each other on the course in practice.
Q. Dan Wheldon is the only driver to win multiple races at Motegi. Is it more important for you to repeat there or just win another race?
DANICA PATRICK: I think the second win. I don't really care about where it comes. I was lucky enough to win at a place like Motegi this first time around, but I am not picky. I will take a win anywhere.
Q. When you win at Motegi, you don't just get a trophy. You get a bowling ball, a bicycle, a samurai sword among other things. Where are all the prizes from last year?
DANICA PATRICK: I've got all of it in the basement (of the house) in the safe. The sword came out for a while because it came with a beautiful stand, but it didn't really fit with the rest of the décor of the house. We still have everything. It's especially cool to see my face on a trophy, because that's the big deal at Indy, too.
Q. You mentioned your face on a trophy. What will it be like to see the Indy Japan trophy with your face etched into it?
DANICA PATRICK: I will know how they did my hair then. I've always wondered how they did my hair from the photos.