Crew chief Tony Gibson reflects on Danica Patrick’s season thus far

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It’s been a rough road for Danica Patrick in her first full season in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series. Other than winning the pole and finishing eighth in the season-opening Daytona 500, Patrick has struggled for much of the 16 races since then.

In fact, Patrick has finished in the top 20 just twice since Daytona: 12th at Martinsville and 13th at Michigan three weeks ago.

In the 14 other races, she has finished between 20th and 29th 11 times and three times between 30th and 39th.

But it’s not only Patrick who has born the brunt of the struggles. So, too, has veteran crew chief Tony Gibson, who shifted over to lead Patrick’s team this season after spending the last three four seasons atop the pit box for Ryan Newman.

Gibson was on Tuesday’s weekly NASCAR media teleconference and talked about working with Patrick, returning to his native Daytona Beach for this Saturday’s Coke Zero 400 and where Patrick earned the pole in February, and what the rest of the season holds in store for the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 10 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet:

Reflecting back on what Patrick did in February at Daytona: “It was obviously extremely gratifying to go down there and run well (in February). To go to your hometown where I grew up and all your friends and family, and to go there and to do something that is pretty amazing, to make history, to just be a part of that is incredible. It was something that obviously will never be done again, and I feel real fortunate to be a part of that. … It was pretty crazy, too, with all the media and all the hype going into it, and actually the pressure of actually testing well and going down there and repeating and making it happen, it was a huge relief, but it was also very gratifying and probably ranks up there as probably one of the greatest things I’ve accomplished in my career.”

On the gameplan for this weekend’s return to Daytona: “Goals for July are the same as they were in February when we went to Daytona. We want to go down there and we want to make a statement. We want to try to sit on the pole again, obviously, and this time come up (finish) a few spots further up. We felt like we had a shot to win it, ran in the top three or four all day and had a fast car, and it came down to the last lap and kind of got snookered a little bit there at the end. But we felt like we were definitely in contention to win it, so we’re going back there with the same mindset, to try to be the fastest car in qualifying and try to close the deal at the end of this thing.”

On whether the No. 10 team is put under the microscope more so because Danica is the driver: “Yeah, we do, and we knew that going into it. Most of us on the 10 car, most of my guys were with me when we were with Dale Jr. at DEI, and we’ve been through some of the microscope deal with a high-profile driver. So we were kind of used to it. At least we thought we were. But obviously it’s a little bit more than that with Danica. The fan base is a little more spread out. There’s kids and little girls and boys and women and men, and she has a huge fan base now. You’re dealing with a lot of different folks at the racetrack and talking to different people and things like that.”

On how the microscope is different with Patrick than with other drivers you’ve worked with, like Ryan Newman, Dale Earnhardt Jr., etc.: “It’s a little different than what we’ve experienced in the past. So moving forward you want to please everybody. You want your performance to be good because you don’t want to let your fans down. You don’t want to let her fans down. When you’ve got to look a little girl in the eye and she asks you what happened last week or why didn’t Danica win, it’s pretty hard to come up with an answer that’s going to satisfy a little girl. But it’s crazy. It’s different. But we approach every week the same. We want to go in, and we set goals, and we want to do the best we can every week as a team, and we want to build a stronger team and a relationship with Danica because it’s only going to help us down the road. But the demands to perform and run better and to do things like that seem to be a little higher than they were because of the expectations she puts on herself and that the fans want to see her do good. So that’s a little bit different for us. That’s been a little bit of a struggle for us to get our hands wrapped around and absorbing that and trying to make things — try to justify each thing we do and keep ourselves in check, you know.”

On Danica having better performances and consistency in the last month-plus: “I think we’ve definitely made some gains as a company. We’re nowhere near where we want to be or where we need to be each and every week on every level, from the 39 (Ryan Newman), the 14 (Tony Stewart) or the 10 (Patrick). I mean, our goals are a little bit less than the other two guys, at least the goals we set for ourselves are a little lower but reachable. But we have struggled as a company and with the Gen-6 car, and we’ve worked really hard. We’ve done a lot of testing here lately, and I think the testing that we’ve done has definitely paid off in her performance. Has it taken us from a 15th-place organization to a winning organization? Well, not really. Dover was a good day and it was a good race for the 14 to win it, but they weren’t the dominant car all day. They put themselves in a good position. They were a top-10 car and put themselves in position to win it and did so. But the performances have been better, but our expectations and where we need to be is not there yet.”

On the plusses of Patrick getting in as much testing as possible: “Yeah, it’s huge. Any time that we can get to go do a test at the right racetrack on the right tire, even if you’re not on the right tire, but to be at that racetrack that you’re going to compete on is huge. Any lap behind the wheel of this Gen-6 car for her is a plus. You know, it’s definitely been a plus for the seat time side of it. The tests that we have done have been huge, and the biggest thing that’s really helped her is having the data from the other two drivers, the EFI data from the other two drivers as far as breaking traces and throttle traces and steering traces and those things that we really — that we can sit down and look at, and she can talk to Stewart or Newman and they can help her if she’s struggling and they can kind of go to some of these racetracks where she hasn’t been. Some of these tracks she’s never been to in any kind of car. Having those two guys at a test when we go has been huge for us. And it shows. I know it doesn’t make us run top 10, but it makes us run 15th to 20th. That has been huge for her. That’s been the biggest thing I’d say for us is going to those tests and being able to do that, and if we could do it more, we would, and we go to VIR, we go to Road Atlanta, we go to Nashville, we go to Greenville Pickens, we go anywhere we can go to make laps and learn.  And a lot of these tracks we have — even when we go to Nashville, all of our drivers have been there and the Hendrick guys have been there obviously, so we have a lot of data we can look at that helps her on the driving side as well as on the setup side, too.”

On how excited the team is to return to Daytona, particularly after what Danica and the team did in February down there: “Yeah, you can feel the excitement in the shop. The guys are just rubbing and detailing and they’re pumped up and they’re excited. We have our trophy from Daytona for the pole down here, and so that stuff we bring out — we brought it out this week just to remind everybody of what we can do when we get down there. It’s a little bit of a morale booster. The vibe is different. When we get ready to go here, everybody gets jacked up, and we know we can go here and we can do really well.”

On the team’s chances returning to Daytona: “I think it’s obviously a track that we feel like we can win at. I feel like that’s right in Danica’s wheelhouse there. She likes the drafting. She likes the high speeds, and I think most of that comes from the IndyCar side of it. So yeah, it’s exciting for us. We went to Daytona — and before when she was running the Nationwide car, she was really good at the restrictor plate stuff with the drafting and the air and that kind of deal. So we were pretty excited for going into this year, and then when we went to Daytona and tested, we knew that we were going to be fairly strong down there. So it’s exciting for us, and we’re working really hard. We work hard every week, but when it comes to the restrictor plate racing, especially going to Daytona, we go all out. We put every little thing we can into those cars, because we know that that’s a track that we can win at and we can really do some damage, on the good side.”

Here’s What Drivers Said after Sunday’s Indianapolis 500

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Win or lose, drivers had much to say after Sunday’s 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500:

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet) — Indy 500 winner: “Man, I just can’t believe it. I changed my attitude a lot after Barber. Very positive, I had a great month. I just can’t believe it. I’ve got to thank Roger Penske, Verizon and my parents for allowing me to get to this point. I just … I can’t describe it. I feel like collapsing. I want to cry. I couldn’t stop screaming. I can’t believe it.” (About last restart): “I’m like, ‘I have to get these guys.’ I don’t know how much fuel they got, but this is the restart of my life. And then I go on, and the two (Stefan Wilson and Jack Harvey) pit, and I’m like, ‘Man, I think I’m going to win this!’ I was screaming with one to go. Man, I got this. Unbelievable. I was wondering if I was ever going to win it, and thoughts went through my mind during the month like that. In my career, I’ve had so many wins, so many poles. But everyone always talks about the ‘500.’ And I won it. I just couldn’t imagine winning a race in front of crowd like this, this many people. It’s just amazing. What an event. I love it.”

ED CARPENTER (Ed Carpenter Racing Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet) – finished 2nd: “I’ll feel pretty good about this in a couple days, I think. The team really did a great job all month long, all day long, really. Pit stops were really good. It was almost like being out front early probably hurt us a little bit, just because guys started saving fuel a little earlier. We got behind on the fuel save. Track position was everything we thought it was going to be coming into the day. You heard the drivers talk all week. Just couldn’t quite get it back from him. We were saving fuel through the middle part of the race when everyone was essentially trying to cut out a stop. That was a little odd. You never know how these races are going to unfold. I thought for the most part the team executed well. I thought there’s only a couple little things that I can reflect on in the short term right now that maybe could have made a difference. All in all, I thought Will (Power) won the race and we ended up second, and we’ll be happy with that. We’ll come back stronger next year.”

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) – finished 3rd: “We were trying to save fuel at the end and we knew we had to take a gamble with the PNC Bank car. We just didn’t have the top speed today and the restarts were tough. That was all due to my team though. They made that great strategy call and all I did was get the fuel number they gave me. Huge congrats to Will Power. I know he’s been very hungry for this and congratulations to him.”

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda) – finished 4th: “I feel like we did what we could, and we maximized what we had. The NAPA Know How Andretti Honda team did everything right. I don’t look back on anything and wish we’d done anything different. Despite, it was a good day from a championship perspective. We didn’t have enough to win, but congrats to Will [Power].”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda) – finished 5th: “It was a good race all day. When we were all mixed up in traffic, the No. 28 car was really strong, but once it started stringing out, we just didn’t have it. We really fought hard, but we just didn’t have the speed in the end. But the bigger problem was the lapped traffic. We really had a good race car until we had to deal with guys that were doing 200 mph out there, like Jay Howard. Then (Zach Claman De Melo) came out right at the end in the mix of the top five – I don’t know what teams were thinking. The DHL boys did a great job today, just a little bit too short at the end. But, congrats to Will Power, he definitely has a well-rounded career now.”

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet) – finished 6th: “It was all about track position today. We had a fantastic No. 22 Menards Chevrolet. I want to take my hat off to Chevrolet and the whole Team Penske. I’m so happy for Will (Power). We’ve been rivals. We’ve been friends and teammates. I know how he feels right now. That’s my next goal, and he has just accomplished that – race car life accomplished. It’s a big weight off his shoulders. I’m honestly super-happy for him. There’s no better man than Will to win this race. He’s been through a lot. Today’s all about him right now, it’s not about me.”

CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 29 Ruoff Home Mortgage Honda) – finished 7th: “It’s another top 10 for my career, I think I only have one outside the top 10 because of a penalty. I think what hurt me was the yellows towards the end. We had a really good strategy going on, same as Rahal, and we were in a really good place. I think I chickened out a little bit on the restarts because I wasn’t up to speed. That hurt me a little bit on the restarts. I was a little bit cautious, so some people overtook me but at the end of the day I think I gained back all the positions on track. It’s a top seven so… great!”

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet) – finished 8th: “It was more difficult this year, but I think still a great race. I think we fought back for points, which was good. We just got out of position there on pit stops and just struggled with the yellows; they didn’t fall our way. We were fighting from 20th, 15th place. I think we had a good car up front. I wasn’t so good in the back. Once I got 15th or 20th, I struggled a little bit. But we were making slow progress. We got back in the top 10 but can’t be too satisfied. It was a great day for Team Chevy and Team Penske, as well. I’m happy for Will (Power), I just wish it was our day. We had an amazing Indiana crowd, as always. This is the best race of the year, and hopefully we’ll have a better shot next time.”

ROBERT WICKENS (No. 6 Lucas Oil SPM Honda) – finished 9th: “It was an emotional roller coaster today. I thought we had a great car, but we just couldn’t progress. We would make some moves forward with the strategy, and then we would get a yellow that would put us at the back again. Hats off to the Lucas Oil SPM boys – we had great pit stops all day. Finally, at the end we could let loose and pick people off, and we went from 19th to ninth in the last 10 laps. Today was a lot of fun. I’m leaving here feeling like I want more, but a top-10 finish as a rookie in the Indy 500… it’s hard to complain.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 United Rentals Honda) – finished 10th: “I thought our United Rentals car was very good, it just became a track position race and the yellows were way too long. The strategy that we played when we got to the lead on Lap 100 — had the yellows not taken so long every single time  — we would have been one pit stop less than the rest. We were good to make it on one more stop and everybody else wasn’t. There were three or four of us in that situation – me, (Josef) Newgarden, I think (Robert) Wickens maybe and (Carlos) Munoz. We had played it right. It obviously sucks to leave here another year and not get a win particularly when the race car was pretty good. I need to be more aggressive on the restarts. I didn’t really want to try the second lane because there was a lot at stake. I didn’t want to put the thing in the fence but I saw a lot of guys doing it ( in the second lane) so the last restart I did, I made up three or four spots, but I’m just disappointed because I want to get out of here with a win someday.”

JR HILDEBRAND (No. 66 Salesforce DRR Chevrolet) – finished 11th: “It was a very long race. We tried very hard to gain some track position in the pits and every time it sort of ended up to be a little bit of a wash where the yellow fell. They guys did a great job all race long. No mistakes from anyone on the strategy side or pit lane side. Every time we took a gamble, it didn’t really seem to hurt us. Always good to get 500 miles under your belt here (the track) and to finish the race. To see so many guys today have a really tough day as far as handling very poorly really early in the stint. I was fortunate to be right around a few of them and watching them happen like that could have been us if we were a little worse or a little less careful. Happy to bring the thing back in one piece. Would have liked to have snuck it into the top 10 there at the end, but kudos to the team. They did a great job with the Salesforce car all month long and what turned out to be real tough conditions. You always appreciate being able to put 200 laps in here. You always are learn a bunch of stuff. You learn things about driving the car. You learn what you need in the car. You learn about conditions and what other guys have learned about the car. We won’t forget that stuff when we come back next year.”

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 98 U.S. Concrete / Curb Honda) – finished 12th: “We seemed to be there in the beginning and then just lost something at the end. We were trying to figure out what it was, but I just lost pace in the end. We were sort of where we needed to be, not really to win the race but right up in the thick of things and we just slipped down. We think we know what it was, but knowing that now makes us a day late and a dollar short. Big thanks to my U.S. Concrete guys for the hard work all month long.”

MATHEUS “MATT” LEIST (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet) – finished 13th: “First Indy 500 done – I’m pretty happy with the performance – managed to complete the whole race and it was probably the most difficult race I’ve ever done, you know. pretty difficult, pretty tricky and the car was changing a lot from one stint to the other so it was a long day. I’m happy for the team, I think we deserved it and I’m looking forward to the next race now.”

GABBY CHAVES (No. 88 Harding Group Chevrolet) – finished 14th: “It was a race of perseverance for us. First 150 laps were really tough because the car was a bit all over the place. At the end we had a nice change that completely turned the car around and, all of a sudden, I was passing cars and driving as hard as I could. That put us in a really good position to where if we hadn’t been unlucky in the last restart with the lapped cars that went through pit lane on the last few laps, we would have had a top 10 finish.”

STEFAN WILSON (No. 25 #Driven2SavesLives Honda) – finished 15th: “It was so close – a helluva strategy call by the team. The No. 25 Driven2SaveLives team did a great job all day. With that strategy call we knew we were gambling – we knew we were rolling the dice. We were just hoping for another yellow flag at the end. I was leading, and I knew we were strong enough and wouldn’t be able to be passed, but the yellow just didn’t come. While I was out there leading, I was just out there thinking if it goes yellow now my dreams are made. It didn’t happen, but we led our first laps, we learned a helluva lot this month and it was mad fun, so I’m leaving here with a smile on my face and my head held high.”

JACK HARVEY (No. 60 AutoNation/SiriusXM MSR w/ SPM Honda) – finished 16th: “It’s the Indy 500, the biggest one of the year, so the team didn’t have to apologize to me for going for it! We nearly made the strategy work, but there were a few bits where we just couldn’t hit the numbers. We ran up to the front at the end and went three-wide into Turn 1 on the last restart. I tried to drive the best race I could and we finished 16th, which is a pretty good day considering where we started. Looking at where we were last year and where we are today, it’s a night and day difference. Thank you to AutoNation and SiriusXM and all of the supporters and sponsors that we have and to Michael (Shank) for believing in me. This is a good program that’s getting off the ground and this is good momentum to keep going.”

ORIOL SERVIA (No. 64 Scuderia Corsa/Manitowoc Honda) – finished 17th: “I am really proud of the whole effort. When you come as a one-race team, it is really hard to beat the guys that are full season so just doing it for your-run-for-the-money like we did is really great. It was great running up front. It showed we had a good speed, great passes, and restarts. We took a risk on the strategy and it almost worked. I am very proud of everyone. Everyone at RLL (Rahal Lanigan Letterman Racing) and Scuderia Corsa were here to win and we showed that we really went for it.”

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 23 Fiasp Chevrolet) – finished 18th: “Major props to everyone on the Carlin team – they’ve worked so hard since November to put this program together. To come out and qualify two cars in the top 20 and finish the race with two cars in one piece in the top 22 in their first Indianapolis 500 is impressive. I’m just really proud of these guys, everyone really did a great job all month. I’m excited to come back next year with everything we learned this year both in qualifying and in the race. We will definitely do some things differently, but that’s the thing about the first time, you learn so much and we’ll just keep moving forward from here. We’re looking forward to another 100 points up for grab next weekend in Detroit.”

ZACHARY CLAMAN DE MELO (No. 19 Paysafe Honda) – finished 19th: “It was a cool experience getting to race the No. 19 Paysafe car at the Indy 500. I really enjoyed my time. As much as I wanted to do better we went for it, we gambled, and it didn’t work, but I’m happy we went for it. That’s what the sport is about, and we took a risk. I finished the race, I got a lot of experience under my belt and it will benefit me a lot when I come back next year. I think one more yellow and we would have had a better result. From the crowd, to everything, it’s been super surreal. I loved it. I enjoyed the whole month and I can’t wait to hopefully be back next year.”

SPENCER PIGOT (No. 21 Preferred Freezer Service Chevrolet) – finished 20th: “We started off well, then came the speeding penalty and next thing I know, we’re a lap down. We weren’t able to get it back. I know we had enough speed to finish in the top ten, but, unfortunately, we didn’t have that luck and finished farther back. I’m still really thankful for my team, especially the Preferred Freezer guys for giving me a great car all month and our fans, too. It was good to be a part of it all.”

CONOR DALY (No. 17 United States Air Force Honda) – finished 22nd: “I think we have to be pretty happy from where we started. We thought it was going to be a lot more of a difficult day. We ended up being pretty competitive and passing some cars. On track we were running with (Robert) Wickens and (Stefan) Wilson, behind guys that finished in the Top 15, but every time we pitted it went yellow. Again, I can’t seem to find any luck here. I would have been super happy finishing in the top 15 because I knew I was faster than those guys all day. That’s just the frustrating part. But I want to thank everyone that helped put this program together from the U.S. Air Force, Thom Burns, Dale Coyne, everyone on the team. I’m super grateful for the opportunity.”

MAX CHILTON (No. 59 Gallagher Chevrolet) – finished 22nd: “Yeah, that’s just the brutal life of the Indianapolis 500. At times you feel like you’re doing well and then at times it’s like the world is against you. I think we did a reasonable job for our first time entering the race as a new team and we did a good job in qualifying. There are definitely things we’ve learned and we’ll come back stronger next year. Honestly, I just didn’t have the pace. I tried in traffic, but I just couldn’t do much with the car. We tried a different fuel strategy at the end, but we just couldn’t make it. It was great to see so many Gallagher guests at the track this weekend to cheer on the No. 59 Gallagher Chevrolet and we’re looking forward to Detroit next weekend.”

ZACH VEACH (No. 26 Relay / Group One Thousand One Honda) – finished 23rd: “It was a long day in general for us to end up where we did – two pit fires and the balance of the car wasn’t where we would’ve liked it to be, so we had to work on it the entire time. We finally got it close the last couple stops but, just my mistake. I took us in a direction on a setup that I thought was going to be good, but I think that’s what hurt us come race day. Overall though, I’m just really grateful to have my first ‘500’ with the team under my belt and can’t thank my teammates and my Relay crew enough for all the hard work.”

JAY HOWARD (No. 7 One Cure Schmidt Peterson Motorsports/AFS Racing Honda) – finished 24th:“Today started off really well. We were moving forward, overtaking cars, so to be able to move forward felt pretty great. All of a sudden, it was like a light switch and the One Cure car, no matter what we did, it just wasn’t very quick. It was a frustrating day for everyone. I just want to thank the CSU and One Cure folks for giving us the opportunity to be here and work with the SPM boys and Honda. The positive out of this is that we brought it home with all four wheels on it. It was a good month for us, and I only wish we could end it on a bit more of a high.”

TONY KANAAN (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet) – finished 25th: “Man, the Speedway, right? We had a great day going and then we had a puncture that put us behind all day long, so I was playing catch up. It was not for lack of trying, we came back from all the way from the back of the pack to the inside of the top 10. Great restarts and…oh my God. So, it wasn’t our day. I mean we have a great thing going, this team is very promising so we will leave here with our heads up. We had great pit stops, and I mean it wasn’t our day and to finish ninth or last for me it doesn’t matter. I’m not trying to make an excuse, I made a mistake trying and that for me, in my book, it’s totally fine. I’m looking forward to the future on this team.”

SAGE KARAM (No. 24 WIX Filters DRR Chevrolet) – finished 26th: “I really don’t know what happened because the race car was stable in the rear end all day. Then all of a sudden, the car just snapped around without any notice.  It is extremely puzzling. We had a pretty good car all day and then that happened. I’m upset because I felt like we had a car to race into the top-five today. I feel badly because the DRR crew worked so hard to prepare a good machine this month. Then this happens. I love Indy so much and now my race ends like this.  I know I want to come back here next year and race hard again.”

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Pennzoil Team Penske Chevrolet) – finished 27th: “The car was actually handling good, I couldn’t get too close to other guys. I guess when I went to pass (Ryan) Hunter-Reay on the outside, maybe got a little debris on the tire – I don’t know, that was obviously the first time. My worry was actually Turn 1, not so much in Turn 4, so I felt a little bit movement but I was feeling that most of the time. But this time, unfortunately the rear just over-rotated. The Shell Pennzoil Chevy was really good so now let’s cheer for our teammates. I mean Will (Power) is doing a great job, Simon (Pagenaud) and also (Josef) Newgarden up there.  [Heat for the day] Yeah, I think we were just learning the car. obviously, I mean you can see some other cars be able to run a more little closer without an issue. Myself, for example, when I had the opportunity, I went for it. Maybe with older tires, maybe it wasn’t the time to do it, but I felt everything was going to momentum. It’s a shame. It caught us by surprise. We will learn a little more and hopefully can convince RP (Roger Penske) to bring me back.”

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 18 Team SealMaster Honda) – finished 28th: “The Sealmaster Honda No. 18 was pretty good, but on a couple of restarts I got caught out and wasn’t aggressive enough, so I got chewed up by a bunch of guys. I was trying to make up for lost ground and picking them off one by one. The stint before was really strong, the car felt very good, so when I left the pits I was trying to get ahead of (Alexander) Rossi. I got a good run on him coming off of Turn 3 and tried to stay in and make the pass. The car unloaded and I tried to dive through the understeer. The front hooked a little bit and snapped out on me and that was that. I gave it my best shot and, unfortunately, those things were really tricky today with the heat. The downforce was really low and it was very difficult to be flat. I’m just disappointed for the Dale Coyne Vasser-Sullivan guys. They worked so hard all month and we lost a chance on some valuable championship points.”

KYLE KAISER (No. 32 NFP / Juncos Racing Chevrolet) – finished 29th: “Obviously, a disappointing end to what I think could have been a really good race. All month has been pretty amazing. We have fought our way back from a lot. We got the car pretty good and had an amazing qualifying and a really good starting position for the race. We fell back in the beginning of the race with a bad pit stop on my part, but we were fighting back. We got one lap back and I know we were going to get the other one back. We had a really good race car. We were hanging with guys that were running up front and we were fighting through the field. We are not 100 % sure what put us out of the race, but we know that it was out of our control.  I am just very happy with everything this month. It was a great experience. I was improving and I learned so much. I can’t wait to be back next year. I want to say thanks to the team and everyone on the team for doing their part and bringing me a great race car. I also want to thank NFP for their support and family and friends that came out to make this day possible and to cheer me on.”

DANICA PATRICK (No. 13 GoDaddy Chevrolet) – finished 30th: “I do feel like it was unexpected, but on the other hand, the car was a little bit positive today and turning more than I wanted it to. I was just having to chase it a lot. Turn 2 did seem a little bit more edgy than the other corners, but I can’t say that in that point in time that I was on edge or felt like I was. It just swung around as soon as I recommitted back to the throttle again, I felt a little bit of understeer in the middle of the corner. I wasn’t expecting it by any means, but I think it just goes to show that these cars are tough to drive. All the drivers out there are great drivers. It was definitely not the way I wanted to end, of course. I wouldn’t want to end any year like this, but being my last race, it definitely makes it a lot worse. I did have some good moments here this month. I won’t forget that, and I won’t forget my fans either.”

ED JONES (No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) – finished 31st: “It was an unfortunate end to our race in the NTT DATA car. We struggled a bit in the first stint, but then make progress and were looking better after the first pit stop. Unfortunately, there were two cars in front of me going two wide, and the characteristics of the car were understeer – then I got massive oversteer, and I wasn’t able to catch the car. My crew was outstanding and we’ll be back and stronger at Detroit.”

TAKUMA SATO (No. 30 Mi-Jack / Panasonic Honda) – finished 32nd: “James had a problem with speed and there was too much closing speed between us and I couldn’t avoid him. Once I realized, I backed off and even hit the brakes, but just once you get into an air pocket like that, you just get sucked in.  It’s’ really an unfortunate situation for both of us and I feel really sorry for the team, the fans and supporters.  Robert (Wickens) and I were catching the front of the train, the pack we were in.  Once he got it, I could see two cars side by side. At the time, maybe James was too much in trouble and he had to back off and get in the grey. The speed differential was way too great between us. I tried to avoid it but unfortunately I couldn’t.”

JAMES DAVISON (No. 33 Jonathan Bryd’s 502 East Chevrolet) – finished 33rd: “We had anti-roll bar jam on there, so I just couldn’t change the balance. I had to do the best with the adversity that I faced. If I tried any harder, I was going to swap ends, so I was getting plenty of warning signs there. If I was anywhere close to another car, I was getting huge wiggles and snap oversteer. I just really feel for Takuma (Sato) for getting caught up in that. That is not at all the situation that you want to drag someone else in to, but that’s the Indy 500 isn’t it? Feel very proud of this Foyt /Bryd/Hollinger/Belardi team for the adversity we overcame and showing some kind of competitiveness there in the first stint.”