Patience. It’s a word Danica Patrick will hear again and again as she and her No. 10 GoDaddy Racing Team tackle Richmond (Va.) International Raceway this weekend for the Richmond 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
Perhaps the idea of patience dominating the night’s conversation could be a bit odd at the .75-mile Virginia layout known as “The Action Track,” where attempts to pass cars often lead to frustration, which then turns into beating and banging, and even wrecking. But for Patrick, who will be making just her 55th career Sprint Cup start and her third at Richmond, practicing patience will be the name of the game.
Patrick will lean on the advice doled out from her Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) crew chief Tony Gibson – “Be patient. Focus on you. Race the racetrack. Take what the car and the track will give you all night. If you can do that all night, you’ll end up with a solid finish.”
That’s the same guidance Gibson gave his driver prior to the Southern 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway. As Patrick continues to learn the racetracks on the Sprint Cup circuit, Gibson says patience and focus are key to improving each time the No. 10 GoDaddy team returns to a racetrack.
Patrick repeated Gibson’s advice over the car radio during the Darlington race. She focused, raced the racetrack and took what the car and track would give her. And when the checkered flag waved, Patrick brought home her green No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS in 22nd place and on the lead lap – her best finish in four starts at the uber-challenging 1.336-mile oval.
This weekend, Patrick & Co. hope that same advice pays off once more.
While Patrick is no stranger to racing at Richmond, her best finishes at the track have come from her efforts in the Verizon IndyCar Series. In five IndyCar starts at the three-quarter-mile oval, Patrick scored four top-10 finishes, including sixth-place results in 2007 and 2008 and a fifth-place finish in 2009. She’s also raced there in three NASCAR Nationwide Series and two previous Sprint Cup events.
Despite her past challenges at Richmond, Patrick is looking forward to Saturday night’s short-track race. She has produced a series of solid performances at the short tracks on the circuit. Last spring, she recorded an impressive 12th-place finish at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and followed that up with a 17th-place effort in the fall.
This season, Patrick earned a top-20 finish at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. And while she didn’t get the finish she had hoped for at Martinsville, the No. 10 team did earn its best qualifying effort of the year at the .526-mile oval – a 10th-place starting position.
Patrick will lean on those short-track successes, as well as her performance at Darlington, as she returns to Richmond this weekend. And hopefully, with a little patience, Patrick will continue to improve on the past and score another solid finish come Saturday night.