From 2005 to 2011, Danica Patrick looked forward to the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race on Memorial Day weekend.
She led 19 laps and finished fourth in 2005 and scored five other top-10 finishes, including a career-best third in 2009.
And with the race averaging about three to three-and-a-half hours, she was usually done with everything by 5 p.m. as the race starts at noon.
Now, 5 p.m. is about when her day really gets started as she prepares for Sunday’s marathon Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway.
The race begins at 6 p.m. and can last up to four or five hours, depending on the cautions brought out in NASCAR’s longest race.
But while the race lasts a long time, Patrick and her No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing appear to be ready to go.
Two weeks ago, Patrick enjoyed a career-best seventh-place finish at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. She drove in the top-10 for the entire race and had arguably the best performance of her Sprint Cup career.
She’s driven well before, with a 12th-place run last spring at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and an eighth-place run from the pole in the 2013 Daytona 500. But never on an intermediate track has she run so smoothly, and she definitely raised the eyebrows of more than a few observers.
Patrick drove a brand new car at Kansas and will drive another brand new one this week. And she’s hoping that car will bring even more success to the GoDaddy team.