Danica Patrick has been on a bit of a roll, and now she qualifies 4th for the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Speedway. Patrick will start behind Jimmy Johnson, who took the pole position, Brad Keselowski and Kasey Kahne. Although Danica has had better qualifying rounds – after all, she won the pole at Daytona in 2013 – but this is Patrick’s best qualifying position to date for a non-restrictor plate race.
The Coca Cola 600 is the longest race of the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit, but that isn’t a problem for Danica. According to a motorsport.com report, Patrick had this to say about getting ready for Sunday’s race:
“What’s another 100 miles on top of 500? It really doesn’t seem that long. I did it the last two years, right? Last year seemed pretty quick. Mind you, I did get crashed. A lot of it has to do with how you’re doing and how the car is, what’s happening on track, are you actually racing people throughout the race? I always felt like Darlington was the longest race in the whole world. It felt like 800 miles to me. But, for some reason, this year it went quickly. So, actually, I just think it has to do with how your race is going. Another 100 miles, if you’re running well, is going to help. If not, then it’s not. Other than that, it’s just another long race and we have a lot of them.”
Danica Patrick gave much of the credit for her best non-restrictor qualifying round to date to her crew, saying this about her 4th place run in the qualifying round:
“The car was really good. I think the big difference that came for me was in the second round. Gibson (Tony, Danica’s crew chief) made really good adjustments and anticipated the offset from run one to run two really well and the balance was really good. I did that 20 whatever seven which was quickest in the second group. We have a lot to be proud of. I mean let’s face it this is the part of the weekend that I dreaded every time. I had to train myself to not say I hate qualifying. We were (sixth) in a round, we were first in a round and we were fourth in a round. A lot to be proud of at Stewart-Haas and for the GoDaddy car and it’s going to give us a great starting spot for Sunday.”
Like Danica Patrick, pole winner Jimmy Johnson comes into Sunday’s race looking for his first win of the 2014 Sprint Cup season. Unlike Patrick, however, Jimmy has been to the winner’s circle before in NASCAR. Patrick is still looking for her first win on the NASCAR Sprint Cup series.
So, is Patrick ready to win one? We’ll have to wait for the race to see, but the long track favors her style of racing, especially since she’s starting near the front. Danica herself has suggested that her chances might be a little better if she had been chosen by NASCAR fans to participate in the All-Star race at Charlotte last week, according to a Yahoo Sports report:
“Anytime you can have track time at a track you’re going to race at, it’s good for learning, it’s good for repetition, it’s good for learning about your car. So we would have loved to have been in the All-Star weekend, but it wasn’t meant to be. But we’re doing OK here, and we’ve got another practice before the race.”
Win, lose or crash, Danica Patrick deserves some credit for a great qualifying round at Charlotte for the Coca Cola 600.