In her first full season in NASCAR, it would be fair to say Danica Patrick has had a trying year.
In 27 starts in the Nationwide Series, the former IndyCar driver has just two finishes inside the top 10. The results haven't been much better in the Sprint Cup Series, where Patrick's best result is 25th in six starts.
So how does she deal with what has been a challenging season? One way Patrick copes is by "faking it until you believe it."
"It's easy to get down," Patrick said Friday at Dover International Speedway. "It's easy to not be happy or excited in the monotony of the same thing every weekend, and if things don't go well, being upset and letting that get to you.
"I encourage everyone to try it. If you just smile and are happy and joke, even if you are out of control and not even being honest about how excited you are about something, eventually at some point that day you will be happy."
However, Patrick readily admits forcing herself to smile and be happy isn't as easy as she makes it out to be.
"I can't say I'm completely successful," Patrick said. "It's probably how I feel about qualifying actually. There are plenty of times I've said, 'I hate qualifying,' but I know that's not a positive thing. I know that doesn't help me in qualifying and I need to learn to like it. I need to find the good in it and the positive attitude will translate into better results, I think."
That aura of positivity will be sorely tested this weekend. In two Nationwide starts at Dover, Patrick has struggled mightily, having finished 30th and a crash-induced 35th-place finish this past June.
What Patrick is hoping for is to build off her recent performance at Bristol – a concrete track similar to Dover – and where she finished ninth in the Nationwide event and was running on the lead lap in the Cup race until a late wreck ended her night last month.
"Maybe it will; I don't know," Patrick said when asked if there would be any carryover from one track to the other. "I might be wrong. There's going to be definitely a lot of moving around. ... I will just try to do my best to be smart about staying out there to get all the laps so I'm more prepared for next year."