Daytona Speedweeks seem so, so long ago. And that’s probably because it was a long, long time ago, given that around nine months have passed since the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season kicked off at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.
Mitt Romney was still two months away from winning the Republican nomination for President of the United States, the 2012 World Series-champion San Francisco Giants had just started spring training, and Peyton Manning was still a member of the Indianapolis Colts when the racing season started.
So it’s hard to believe that Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, is about to complete the 10-race Sprint Cup Series schedule she embarked upon at the outset of 2012. The goals set forth by team owner Tony Stewart were simple: log laps and learn at the toughest tracks NASCAR has to offer.
And so Patrick has raced at places like Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway and Dover (Del.) International Speedway as she preps for a full-time Sprint Cup Series schedule in 2013.
There have been ups and downs but, throughout the year, Patrick has made steady progress in the Sprint Cup Series, including a career-best 24th-place finish last week at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. Teamed with new crew chief Tony Gibson, who will be atop to the pit box for 2013, Patrick was in the top-20 late in the race at Texas and had one of her best outings of the season.
The final race of Patrick’s Sprint Cup Series season will be a bit of a “homestand” as Phoenix International Raceway, site of Sunday’s Advocare 500k, is about 30 miles west of her residence in Scottsdale, Ariz. Scottsdale is also home to her longtime sponsor GoDaddy.com.
While enjoying the comforts of home, it will also give Patrick one more race to work with Gibson before the duo begins racing with points on the line in 2013.
And before they know it, they’ll be back at Phoenix March 3 for the second race of the new season.