It wasn’t quite planned this way, but it was close.
Danica Patrick will finally make a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start during the day – unless Mother Nature once again decides to change things, of course.
Patrick has made five Sprint Cup starts – all under the bright lights – as her races in February at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, in May at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway and Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, in August at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway and in September at Atlanta Motor Speedway were all night races.
Darlington, Charlotte, Bristol and Atlanta were scheduled night races while Daytona went from a Sunday-afternoon start to NASCAR’s version of Monday Night Football due to heavy rains that forced the event to be delayed more than 24 hours.
So, weather permitting, Patrick’s first daytime race will be Sunday’s Geico 400 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. And it will also be a homecoming of sorts as Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, grew up in Roscoe, Ill., about 116 miles to the north and west.
The 1.5-mile oval is a place Patrick has driven at nine times throughout her career – six times in IZOD IndyCar Series competition and three times in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. In September 2005, she qualified on the pole for the IndyCar Series race at 215.970 mph and finished sixth. She also scored a 10th-place result in Nationwide Series competition in June 2011.
With each of her Sprint Cup starts, Patrick has continued to learn the ropes of succeeding in NASCAR’s top division. And this week (again, weather permitting) the education will involve something as simple as Sprint Cup racing during the day.