Sprint Cup squads go testing at Martinsville Speedway

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Multiple teams are continuing a two-day test session this afternoon at Martinsville Speedway, which will play host to the seventh race of the 2013 Chase for the Sprint Cup – the Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 – on Oct. 27.

Among those testing on NASCAR’s shortest track are the entire stables of Roush Fenway Racing (Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.), Richard Childress Racing (Kansas winner Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton, and Paul Menard) and Penske Racing (Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski), as well as Furniture Row Racing’s Kurt Busch, Front Row Motorsports’ David Ragan, and Earnhardt Ganassi Racing’s Kyle Larson.

The test is obviously important for everyone involved, but Larson may well be the one that needs it the most. The 21-year-old phenom, who is slated to make his first Sprint Cup start this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway for Phoenix Racing, said in a track press release that his main objective was being able to get out of Martinsville’s tight corners with a good head of steam.

“We’re mainly working on getting through the center [of the turns] and getting good drive off,” Larson said on Tuesday at Martinsville, a track he hadn’t even seen before the test session. “I’ve never been to a track with the long straights and tight corners like this.

“We’ve got pretty good on the long runs. We’re not the fastest, but not the slowest either. We’ve got to get a little better, but I think we’ll be OK for race weekend.”

Danica says goodbye: ‘Definitely not a great ending’ but ‘I’m for sure grateful’

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INDIANAPOLIS – Danica Patrick’s final racing news conference didn’t but at least she didn’t lose her sense of humor about it.

“Is that like the Oscars when they close the show out?” Patrick joked when her opening address was drowned out by the midrace broadcast of Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 in the media center. “Take my mic away. I’ll leave. I promise. I don’t really want to be here because I’m pretty sad, but all right. I guess I’ll stop there.”

That was about as lighthearted as it got, though, for the most accomplished female driver in racing history after the final start of her career. That naturally made for some reflection, too.

“I will say that I’m for sure very grateful for everybody,” she said. “It still was a lot of great moments this month. A lot of great moments this year.”

Patrick was the first woman to lead both the Indianapolis 500 (in her 2005 debut) and the Daytona 500 (in 2013 when she also was the first female to qualify on pole position in NACAR history).

But she couldn’t bookend that with similarly memorable finishes. After crashing out of her final two Cup races in the November 2017 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway and the 2018 Daytona 500, Indy concluded the same way.

“Definitely not a great ending,” she said. “But I kind of said before I came here that it could be a complete disaster, as in not in the ballpark at all. And look silly, then people may remember that. And if I win, people will remember that.

“Probably anything in between might just be a little part of the big story. So I kind of feel like that’s how it is. I’m appreciative for all the fans, for GoDaddy, for Ed Carpenter Racing, for IndyCar. Today was a tough day. A little bit of it was OK. A lot of it was just a typical drive.”

Beforehand, Patrick seemed relaxed while smiling and laughing outside her car with a tight circle of close friends and family that included her parents and boyfriend Aaron Rodgers, the Green Bay Packers quarterback.

“For sure, I was definitely nervous,” she said about her first Indy 500 start in seven years. “I found myself most of the time on the grid being confused what part of prerace we were in. I was like, ‘I remember this,’ and ‘Where are the Taps?’ and ‘When is the anthem?’ but I had all my people around me, so I was in good spirits.”

And with that, she bid adieu.

“Thank you guys,” she said. “Thank you for everything. I’ll miss you. Most of the time. Maybe you’ll miss me just a little. Thanks, guys.”