NASCAR Indianapolis 2013: Danica Patrick hopes success matches comfort level

Chris Trotman

As Danica Patrick prepares to make her first NASCAR Sprint Cup start at Indy, she’s hoping to replicate her past success in the Indianapolis 500.

As Danica Patrick prepared for her first visit to Indianapolis Motor Speedway as a NASCAR Sprint Cup driver, she solicited the advice of her teammate, Ryan Newman.

And what did Newman tell her? "Go flat (out) until you see God and then lift," Patrick said Saturday.

Sunday will mark Patrick's first time in a Cup car at the track where she made a name for herself in IndyCar, but not the first time she's run a stock car around the fabled 2.5-mile loop. She ran in last year's inaugural Nationwide Series race but completed all of 38 laps before crashing out.

"I'm not going to lie," Patrick said Saturday at Indianapolis. "I barely remember those 38 laps. I really don't remember much about it. I just remember getting frustrated and it ending my day."

Patrick stuck around the following day to watch the Cup race, but stationed in the pits her visibility was limited, so she didn't gather much knowledge. It was an experience that didn't necessarily enthrall her.

"I felt bored sitting there actually on pit lane, because you can't see anything," Patrick said. "I am sure there was a better perspective to have than sitting on the pit box. ... That is kind of what I remember. I'm sure it will be far more exciting being in the car."

Indianapolis holds fond memories for Patrick, who burst onto the motorsports scene as an IndyCar rookie in 2005 when she led 10 laps en route to a fourth-place finish. At the time the result was the highest for a woman in the history of the 500. She would better the mark four years later by placing third.

But now Patrick has made the conversion to a full-time stock-car driver and is in her first full season in Cup. And unfortunately for her, there are few lessons she can take from her time in an IndyCar at Indianapolis and transfer to Cup.

"When you get flat (out) in an IndyCar, it's generally fairly comfortable," she said. "But I think building up to that, is grab your gonads and go for it. And I think it's similar in a stock car.

"I think both of them are challenging. The moments aren't as easy to catch in an open-wheel car but yet you're pushing that limit. There's just something about an open-wheel car going that much faster that it sometimes gets a little more hairy."

If there is something for Patrick to take solace in, it's her familiarity with having competed at Indianapolis.

"I always like coming here," Patrick said. "As I've said before, many times, it's a special place. It makes me happy to be here. I feel very comfortable.

"But it's challenging in a Cup car. It's definitely now working towards flat. It's braking, lifting, not lifting all the way; there's a lot more going on. But I like being here in general."

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