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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Ferrari Driver Academy member Callum Ilott will start the 64th Macau Grand Prix from pole position after beating his Formula 3 rivals to victory in Saturday’s qualification race.
Ilott, 19, started third on the grid on Saturday behind pole-sitter Joel Eriksson and McLaren junior Lando Norris, but made a good start to rise to second early on.
Ilott hounded Eriksson for position for much of the race before battling past at Mandarin on Lap 7 as his Swedish rival struggled to keep his tires alive.
With Eriksson unable to respond, Ilott ultimately crossed the line more than seven seconds clear to take his first Macau win and secure pole for Sunday’s main event.
“We started quite strong as I got up to second from third which was not too bad. Then in the middle part of the race I had a good pace and I got past Joel for P1,” Ilott said.
“After that I managed to pull away. It was a good race, even quite relaxing at the end. I’m really happy for the result. Thank you SJM Theodore Racing by Prema, they did a great job and it should be good for tomorrow too.”
Eriksson held on to second ahead of Sergio Sette Camara, who completed the podium ahead of Maximilian Günther in P4.
Ferdinand Habsburg finished fifth ahead of Pedro Piquet, while Norris was left to settle for a lowly P7 after a clutch issue off the line caused him to drop down the order.
You can see full results from the Macau F3 qualifying race here.