While the 2016 season hasn’t started off as strong as they may have liked, Danica Patrick and the No. 10 Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet SS team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) enter Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Kobalt 400 race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway looking to gain momentum to propel them to greater successes throughout the rest of the year.
In the season opener at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, Patrick was caught up in a late-race incident that relegated her to a 35th-place finish. And last weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway, she ran just outside of the top-20 for much of the day before taking the checkered flag in the 20th position. After two sub-par finishes, Patrick finds herself ranked 29th in the Sprint Cup driver standings.
Patrick started the 2016 season with a new crew chief – Michael Waltrip Racing veteran Billy Scott. Due to NASCAR’s testing limitations, the pairing’s first at-track experience together was in Daytona last month. As Patrick and Scott continue to get to know each other and work on their driver-crew chief communication, this coming race weekend couldn’t come at a better time.
Thursday at Las Vegas, Sprint Cup teams are scheduled to get an extra five hours of track time as part of a one-day NASCAR test session on the 1.5-mile oval. That added track time will be key for the entire No. 10 Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet team as it provides a huge opportunity for Patrick and Scott to build their relationship early in the season.
Patrick has yet to finish inside the top-20 at the Sprint Cup level at Las Vegas, but she is no stranger to success there. In 2011, she brought home a fourth-place finish in Xfinity Series competition. That effort marked the best-ever finish by a woman in a NASCAR national stock-car series, topping a fifth-place run by the late Sara Christian in a Sprint Cup race in 1949 at Heidelberg (Pa.) Raceway.
With that experience in her back pocket and extra track time leading into the race weekend, Patrick and her No. 10 Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet team are looking to score a solid Sprint Cup finish Sunday in Las Vegas.