Sprint Cup rookie Danica Patrick added Nickelodeon’s famous orange blimp to her trophy mantle tonight, earning the 2013 Kids’ Choice Award for favorite female athlete.
“What?!!!!! Thank you tweeps for voting for me for this #kidschoiceaward!,” Patrick tweeted afterwards, perhaps in a bit of shock as her message may attest.
The Stewart-Haas Racing pilot and former IndyCar race winner won the vote over tennis queens Serena and Venus Williams, as well as Olympic gold medal gymnast Gabby Douglas. The KCA is being held this evening at USC’s Galen Center in Los Angeles, which allowed Patrick the chance to accept the award in person after finishing up her day at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana.
Patrick was 36th-quickest in today’s Sprint Cup final practice session and will start 40th for tomorrow’s 400-miler at ACS. Her results have fallen off decisively since finishing eighth in the Daytona 500 (average finish post-Daytona: 33rd), but Patrick isn’t worrying too much just yet.
“I know that I have a lot to learn and I know that as a group, we have a lot to learn together to figure out where the car is best for me so we can be closer more of the weekend,” Patrick said to the media on Friday at ACS. “But we will get it. I’m not discouraged or afraid at this point for anything.
“This is just the process that we go through. We will be fine.”
Brendon Hartley says scoring a point on his Formula 1 debut would be “a dream” after being resigned to last place on the grid for the United States Grand Prix following an engine penalty.
Porsche factory driver Hartley was drafted in by Toro Rosso to replace Pierre Gasly for the USGP when the Frenchman was ruled out due to clashing commitments in Super Formula.
Despite having not driven an F1 car since 2012, Hartley came within one-tenth of a second of making it through to Q2 on Saturday at the Circuit of The Americas, ultimately qualifying 18th.
“Obviously I’d love to be quicker but we knew we were starting at the back, so we put a lot of focus on long runs, getting the peak performance out of this Pirelli tire I didn’t get today,” Hartley told NBCSN after the race.
“In FP3 I had a good feeling. There’s a lot of quirky things to manage with these tires. Honestly I should be happy with how the weekend’s gone so far.”
The New Zealander will start last due to a 25-place grid penalty for changes made to his power unit ahead of practice on Friday, and is daring to dream of making the top 10 in his first race out of a sports car for more than five years.
“I don’t do the 24 hours completely alone!” Hartley joked. “It’s quick. It’s physical to drive. I’ll be happy to be done after an hour and a half.
“A point would be a dream starting from the back. If I can move forward and put a race together, I’ll be happy.”
The United States Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 2pm ET on Sunday.