Danica Patrick is the kids’ choice

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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.”

Ricciardo: Red Bull has ‘decent chance’ of Abu Dhabi F1 victory

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Daniel Ricciardo believes Red Bull stands a “decent chance” of signing off from the 2017 Formula 1 season with a victory in next weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

After a slow start to the year, Red Bull made massive gains across the course of the season by developing its RB13 to end the season as front-runners, rivaling Mercedes and Ferrari for pace.

The Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi has a number of slow-speed sections that should suit the RB13 car, with Ricciardo optimistic about his chances of not only ending his podium drought at the track, but even winning the race.

“Yas Marina has actually been one of my favorite tracks over the years,” Ricciardo said in Red Bull’s pre-race preview.

“It’s been a bit like Suzuka for me though, a track that I’ve always enjoyed and gone well on but not quite reached the podium at. I broke that trend in Suzuka this year so hopefully I can do the same in Abu Dhabi.

“When you have so much time away from the car in the off season it helps to sign off with a strong result as it makes you feel like you really deserve a break.

“I think we should have a strong car in Abu Dhabi. I said I want another win before the season is out and I think we have a decent chance of achieving that.”

Red Bull has claimed three race wins through 2017, with Ricciardo’s victory in Azerbaijan being followed up by successes for teammate Max Verstappen in Malaysia and Mexico.