Patrick Ready for Sophomore Season

Danica Patrick

“I feel like this is a year where we may not make a small step in the right direction but we’ll hopefully we’ll make a big jump in the right direction." (Photo: Getty Images)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Danica Patrick knows there are huge expectations for her to improve in 2014.

While Patrick’s rookie Sprint Cup Series season wasn’t completely forgettable, there also wasn’t a great deal to remember. After winning the pole for the Daytona 500 and leading laps in the “Great American Race,” she saw her finishes tail off considerably.

But Patrick sees the experience as a foundation to build on as she readies to embark on her sophomore season with Stewart-Haas Racing.

“I mean our goal is to ultimately progress from where we were last year, but we really didn’t finish in the top fifteen very much and I think that’s something we thought we were going to able to do based on the ten races I had done in 2012,” Patrick said during Monday’s opening day of the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour. “Top twenty wasn’t really a problem and having a great run at Phoenix, 12th or 13th or whatever it was gonna be with a lap left and getting and getting punted.

“So it’s the goal again this year – you have to set one goal and once you achieve it move on to the next one.”

Patrick’s goals may not have changed much for 2014 but that can’t be said for SHR. High-profile teammates Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick join the stable as do three new crew chiefs in Rodney Childers, Chad Johnston and Daniel Knost. Throw in the organization’s expansion to a four-car team and Patrick says there’s more than an optimistic vibe around SHR.

“…we have so much enthusiasm with the team and everyone around the shop and all three drivers and everybody,” said Patrick. “I feel like this is a year where we may not make a small step in the right direction but we’ll hopefully we’ll make a big jump in the right direction.”

Patrick also feels she’ll benefit from having veterans like Harvick and Busch as teammates as well as co-owner Stewart for a full season.

“Kevin’s super excited, and Kurt is and I know Tony is itching to get back in the car,” Patrick said of her boss who will return from a broken leg suffered in a sprint car crash last season. “For me I love being able to have those guys around to ask questions to and they want to help me and that feels good.”

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