Danica Patrick has raced on concrete surfaces many times during her career, having done so in IZOD IndyCar Series, NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, NASCAR Nationwide Series and even NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition.
But she knows as well as anyone that her concrete starts in four different racing series can’t fully prepare her for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on the ultra-fast and ultra-challenging concrete mile oval at Dover (Del.) International Speedway.
Dover’s 24-degree banking in the turns and 9 degrees on the straightaways, and being surrounded by 42 other Sprint Cup machines each producing nearly 900 horsepower, equate to one challenging race for Patrick in Sunday’s AAA 400 at Dover.
Fortunately for Patrick, who drives the No. 10 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, concrete has been good to her, at times.
In four IndyCar Series starts from 2005 to 2008 at 1.33-mile concrete Nashville Superspeedway oval in Lebanon, Tenn., Patrick never started or finished outside the top-10, and she scored three top-five results and two starts on the outside of the front row.
She led her first-ever laps in a stock car on the concrete surface at Dover in September 2010, holding the top spot for three circuits en route to a sixth-place finish in the Sunoco 150 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race.
And last month, at the .533-mile concrete oval at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, Patrick was in the top-20 and on the lead lap with 66 laps remaining in the Irwin Tools Night Race Sprint Cup Series event before her car was hit by another car and she contacted the SAFER Barrier on the inside retaining wall of the frontstretch. She finished 29th.
That said, Patrick knows the Sprint Cup race at Dover is not like any other race she has contested on a concrete surface. But, just as it has been for her first six Sprint Cup Series starts, Patrick’s goal is to continue her education in preparation for a full-time Sprint Cup ride in 2013.
And part of that education is “Concrete 101” (a.k.a. Sunday’s AAA 400).