Following the final off weekend of the 2016 season, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams return to Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway this weekend for Saturday’s Bass Pro Shops Night Race.
At just .533 miles with progressive banking, Bristol has produced some intense racing action and is known as the “Last Great Colosseum.”
In eight Sprint Cup starts at Bristol, Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), has experienced limited success at the short track.
She finished 29th there in just her fourth career Sprint Cup race in August 2012, but that was hampered by an accident not of her making. She started 43rd after qualifying was rained out, then calmly moved her way through the field. She was in the top-20 and on the lead lap with 66 laps remaining when her car was hit by another and contacted the inside frontstretch SAFER Barrier.
Patrick finished 28th in March 2013 and then 26th that August. In 2014, she finished 18th in April and ended up 27th in August.
When Patrick and the No. 10 team visited Bristol in April 2015, she started 26th and overcame a number of hurdles during the race to score a ninth-place finish. That effort marked the sixth top-10 of her career and set the record for the most top-10 finishes by a female in Sprint Cup competition.
In last August’s event at the track, Patrick was hampered by a pit road speeding penalty and a loose wheel, which relegated her to a 27th-place finish.
Earlier this year, Patrick and the No. 10 team were plagued by handling issues and ended up 27th in the Food City 500.
In three Xfinity Series starts at Bristol, Patrick’s best result was a ninth-place finish earned in August 2012.
While Patrick has a number of races under her belt at Bristol, the No. 10 Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet team enters Saturday night’s race facing a bit of an unknown as the racing surface underwent a number of changes in recent weeks. According to track officials, the bottom groove of the track was “polished,” a substance was applied to the track and a tire machine was run over the surface all in an effort to improve the lower groove of the racing surface. The total impact of the changes will not be fully realized until cars get on track for practice on Friday.
Despite the recent track changes, Patrick and the No. 10 Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet team enter Saturday night’s race looking for a solid result at Bristol to improve upon their recent efforts at the track.