An almost constantly loose race car throughout Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway made for a long afternoon at the office for Danica Patrick.
After starting her weekend with getting hit by a rock while attending a dirt-track race, she ended it with a tough 33rd-place result, going six laps off the pace thanks primarily to her Chevrolet’s handling issues.
“We knew we were going to have tough days, but this is not the kind of tough day we thought about,” said Patrick, who now sits 30th in the Sprint Cup standings. “We need to figure out how and why [the car] changes so much from practice to the race and really learn this new car. I was extremely loose the whole time.
“We made it a little bit better in the middle of the race, to the point where it would go for half the run, but by the end of every run, I would find myself very, very loose again…We just have to figure out how to make it better and work our butts off to make sure that we never have this day again.”
After nearly winning the Daytona 500, Patrick has maintained that she’s keeping her goals realistic for the initial races in her first full Cup season. Since finishing eighth at Daytona, she’s had back-to-back rough outings at Phoenix (where she was involved in a vicious wreck with David Ragan) and Vegas.
But while she knows there will sometimes be bad days, she’s fully intent on staying positive in the face of such experiences.
“These are the days — and I said this on the radio — these are the days you earn your money, not the days like Daytona where you run up in the top-five all day,” she said. “Those days are great, but you’re just marching forward. These are the days that you have to be strong and you have to work through it and not let it drag you down.”