Danica Patrick to start 10th at Martinsville, best Sprint Cup non-plate track qualifying effort

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There’s something about Martinsville Speedway that is definitely to Danica Patrick’s liking.

Patrick recorded the best qualifying effort of her Sprint Cup career – on a non-restrictor plate track, that is – during Friday’s qualifying for Sunday’s STP 500 at Martinsville.

Patrick covered the .526-mile bullring, the shortest track on the Sprint Cup circuit, at a speed of 98.165 mph and an elapsed time of 19.290 seconds.

“This is definitely a step in the right direction,” Patrick said. “Qualifying is something I know I need to work on, it always has been. It is a weak area for me, and I know that.”

No matter what today, I felt like we kept our heads on straight. Everyone was calm and nobody got upset. We made the car better and better and better.

“And the most important times to make it better are for qualifying and the race. … We were able to get into the last group and get a top-10 out of it, so I’m very pleased with that.”

Patrick’s best overall Sprint Cup qualifying effort to date was earning the pole for the 2013 Daytona 500, where she also finished a career-best eighth (again, on a plate track).

But Martinsville definitely suits her style: she earned her best non-plate track finish in a Sprint Cup event at last spring’s race there, as well, finishing 12th. She came back to finish 17th in the fall Chase race there, as well.

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Takuma Sato’s likeness revealed on Borg-Warner Trophy (PHOTOS)

Photos; Walt Kuhn
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INDIANAPOLIS – Rather than the traditional December unveil, this year’s reveal newest likeness added to the Borg-Warner Trophy came Tuesday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum.

Takuma Sato got to see the result of the sculpting done by William Behrends and then turned from wax, clay and ceramic into sterling silver on Tuesday evening, as the winner of the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil saw his face revealed on the trophy.

Sato took the No. 26 Ruoff Home Mortgage Honda for Andretti Autosport to the win in thrilling fashion this year over Helio Castroneves, denying the Brazilian his fourth Indianapolis 500 victory in the process. It atoned for his near-miss in 2012, driving for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, the team he’ll return to in 2018.

It’s been a whirlwind last week-plus for Sato, doing the podium interviews at the Japanese Grand Prix, reflecting on his Indianapolis 500 triumph, then sharing the victory spoils with another Japanese pilot in Yoshihide Muroya, who won the Red Bull Air Race World Championship at Indianapolis this weekend.

Photos of Sato’s face on the most unique trophy in sports are below. This post will be updated following tonight’s full unveil. (All photos: Walt Kuhn)