Danica Patrick and the No. 10 Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet SS team for Stewart-Haas Racing return to Dover (Del.) International Speedway this week for Sunday’s Citizen Soldier 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
The track, completed in 1969, is a mile in length and features 24 degrees of banking in the corners and 9 degrees of banking on the straightaways. Known for being tough on both drivers and equipment, Dover was nicknamed the “Monster Mile” in the mid-1970s. And in 1995, Dover was resurfaced with concrete, making it one of just two completely concrete tracks on the Sprint Cup circuit, with Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway being the other.
“I always like going to Dover,” Patrick said. “The track is pretty fun. I remember everyone telling me how unique and challenging Dover was prior to my first race. At the time, I didn’t have a whole lot to compare that track to. They said it was like a larger version of Bristol, but I hadn’t raced at Bristol yet, either.”
While Patrick wasn’t sure what to expect when she first visited Dover in 2010, she returns this weekend with eight Sprint Cup starts at the track under her belt. In that time, she’s earned two top-20 finishes, including a 13th-place finish the team scored back in May. That effort marked Patrick’s career-best finish at Dover and is the team’s highest finish of the season thus far.
“The May race at Dover was a classic example of why you should never ever give up,” Patrick said. “We were stuck two laps down for what seemed like forever. Then, at the end, things finally worked out so we could get back on the lead lap and into contention for a solid finish.”
In addition to her Sprint Cup experience at Dover, Patrick has made three NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at the track. She finished a career-best 16th in the September 2012 Xfinity Series race. Patrick also earned a sixth-place result in the 2010 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at Dover.
“(Dover) can be a real challenge,” she said. “It’s quite quick and, when you come off turns two and four, it drops you down like a roller coaster. You just have to have a good setup and make sure everything is working right or it can be a long day. It’s actually a pretty long race, so you have to be prepared. But it’s a fun track and I’m looking forward to it.”
With a solid performance last May, Patrick and the No. 10 Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet team will be ready to score yet another solid finish Sunday at the “Monster Mile.”