NASCAR's biggest star, Danica Patrick. The NASCAR fans and media worship her
"Thanks guys," NASCAR's biggest star Danica Patrick radioed after completing 152 laps on the 2-mile oval. "Sorry I sucked today. But I'll figure it out."
After parking her Chevrolet in the pits and walking briskly to the garage, Patrick cooled down with a 20-minute debriefing (and likely a quasi-pep talk) with crew chief Tony Eury Jr. inside the JR Motorsports hauler.
"I'm a competitor, and I'm used to running up front, so it's shocking when you go that far back," she said. "You know what? This is a whole new ball of wax for me, and it's all different. I have to disconnect from the results for quite some time because they're probably not going to be what I'm used to."
Plenty was unfamiliar Saturday even though Patrick had raced California before. But in an Indy car, she could hold the throttle wide open and hug the white line on the bottom of the track.
However, driving a NASCAR slug around Fontana requires real racing driving skill. Wrestling with an Impala that weighs twice as much and features far less downforce and braking, Patrick started 36th and well off the pace. By Lap 18, she had already fallen a lap down.
"I just wanted to finish," she said. "The expectation of staying on the first lap was probably not realistic, and I knew that. That first stint was a bit of a struggle, but after that I think we fell into a rhythm, and I got up top and ran up there and ran on the bottom. I made it work when it was pushing, when it was loose. It wasn't so pretty to start, but I came here and did what I wanted."
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