Patrick at Home in Indiana
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on July 26, 2013 | 9:09 A.M. EST
"It doesn’t matter what kind of car I drive there, I’ve had great experiences, memories." (Photo: Getty Images)
The Sprint Cup Series rookie has turned laps around the famed Brickyard in both an Indy Car and a Nationwide Series machine and will now get first crack at a Sprint Cup Series ride in Sunday’s Crown Royal Presents the Samuel Deeds 400.
Needless to say Patrick is looking forward to the opportunity.
“I just like everything about it,” Patrick said of IMS. “I like the facility, obviously. And, to me, the special thing about Indy is, obviously, I’ve had great experiences, but it’s about the track. It doesn’t matter what kind of car I drive there, I’ve had great experiences, memories.
“So that’s what I like so much about it. And I love the tradition. The older I get, the more I realize how much history and tradition plays a role in what’s important and what matters and what means the most to you.”
The bulk of Patrick’s Indianapolis memories came in the Indy 500, where she made her debut in 2005 and led 19 laps on her way to finishing fourth.
Patrick has six top-10 finishes in seven starts at Indianapolis and has qualified 10th or better five times. Her third-place result in 2009 is the best finish ever for a woman in the history of the Indianapolis 500.
Those impressive open wheel numbers combined with the historic nature of the hallowed grounds make Indy one of Patrick’s favorite stops of the year.
“I think the best thing about coming back is that it feels familiar and it feels comfortable,” she said. “I like seeing it. It feels very comfortable, very familiar. I just feel like I’ve had a lot of different experiences here that can help me and, again, it’s just a special place where I feel like from the beginning I’ve always really believed that you have to show this track respect, and it will hopefully show you the respect back.”
Patrick’s stock car debut last season in the inaugural Indiana 250 Nationwide Series race didn’t go very well. After starting 20th, she was caught up in a lap 38 accident and finished 35th.
But she feels like there was something learned in the experience that Patrick hopes would benefit her Sprint Cup effort on Sunday.
“All you’re doing in an Indy car is trimming it out and, if I could have more downforce in these cars, I’d probably take it because, in an Indy car, we learned very quickly that it’s about how much throttle you could carry around,” Patrick explained. “The stock cars get very low in the corners, and that can be a little bit of a danger in an Indy car, especially if you get just a little bit too low and get a little loose. So that’s a little bit different, I suppose, but nothing that was terribly unexpected.”
Patrick enters the 20th race of the season 27th in the Sprint Cup Series point standings and still searching for her first top five of the season. She’s hoping for a good run Sunday in her ninth Indianapolis appearance.
But at the very least, Patrick says she’ll fell right at home this weekend.
“My parents live outside of Indy, now, as does my sister and her husband, so it’s nice to come back,” said Patrick.