Danica Patrick’s second Cup season set to end at a track she’s starred in the past

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The year was 2010. The track was Homestead-Miami Speedway. The battle was one between Danica Patrick and Tony Kanaan, lap-by-lap, side-by-side, for second place in the last race of the IndyCar season.

Patrick prevailed for the runner-up position in what was widely considered one of her best races in open-wheel, the last time IndyCar raced on the 1.5-mile oval.

While you wouldn’t expect Patrick to be in runner-up territory as she closes the books on her second full season in NASCAR Sprint Cup at Homestead this weekend, she is keen on ending better after struggling her first two races working with new interim crew chief Daniel Knost, who was moved over to Patrick’s No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet team prior to Texas in a swap with the No. 41 entry for Kurt Busch (started 27th, ended 36th at Texas; started 32nd, ended 22nd at Phoenix).

“I’m ready for it. It’s a mile and a half, but it’s unique in that it doesn’t have the dogleg,” she said in the Stewart-Haas Racing team’s advance release. “I’ve only run it once in Sprint Cup, but we got a top-20 and we’ve run well in Nationwide. We’ve qualified well in that series and had a top-15 in 2012. We finished second in IndyCar, so I’ve got some experience there, just not a lot in Sprint Cup.”

Patrick was a major story most of 2013 as she transitioned to Sprint Cup full-time after making a handful of starts in 2012, but in 2014 she’s been under-the-radar.

She enters the weekend 28th in points, which is actually a spot down from 27th a year ago. She’s unlikely to move up as she’s currently 26 points in arrears of boyfriend Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who ranks 27th. But she can’t fall further than 28th as Justin Allgaier in 29th is more than 100 points back.

Looking at that only would provide a misleading take on her season, as her overall performance has increased, primarily working with then-crew chief Tony Gibson. There’s been a jump from 30.1 as an average grid position to 22.0 this year, and a finishing jump from an average of 26.1 to 23.8.

She has three top-10 finishes this year, only one of which has come on a restrictor plate track. She has 13 top-20 finishes, up from nine last year.

So while it hasn’t been a season of a quantum leap, there have been some strides made.

“It’s been OK. We’ve improved in some areas and we haven’t in some, but we’re progressing,” she said. “We’ve qualified better and I think we’ve raced better. We’re hoping for a good run at Homestead to finish off the year and get us ready for the break. We had a decent car last week and I hope we can do better at Homestead.”

This race will see Patrick’s No. 10 adorned in Florida Lottery colors, as it has been earlier this season at the fall Daytona race.

Andretti United team names drivers for inaugural Extreme E season

Extreme E drivers Andretti
Extreme E
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The Extreme E team formed by Andretti Autosport and United Autosports named Catie Munnings and Timmy Hansen as its drivers Monday for the series’ inaugural 2021 season.

Munnings is a successful veteran of rally series. Hansen is a past winner and champion in the World Rallycross Championship.

They both will race in the environmentally conscious electric SUV series that will hold events in five areas around the world that are threatened by climate change. Chip Ganassi Racing and six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton also are fielding cars in Extreme E, which will feature male and female co-drivers on every team.

Catie Munnings

“I’m so excited to join Andretti United Extreme E,” Munnings said in a release. ““I was really intrigued when I first heard about Extreme E, I just knew I had to be involved. The male / female racing partnership is a fantastic and exciting new concept. The season has incredible locations and the racing will be very exciting. It will be a new challenge for the teams and drivers, and I’m so thrilled to be working with such a strong team.

“The championship is a really innovative concept, it’s combining motorsport and science and will produce an important legacy in each race location. Bringing the platform that motorsport has in line with the awareness that the planet needs right now is awesome and a really important message.”

Timmy Hansen

Said Hansen: “Going into the Extreme E will be a new chapter in my career, one that I am extremely excited about. It is something brand new, not only for me, but the whole of motorsport. The format is something

we’ve never seen before. I’m also delighted to be able to carry the message of something bigger – talking about the environment and doing something good for the world – that’s something that really drives me. It’s going to be a big adventure in life to see these locations and I’m going to do my best in carrying this responsibility and hopefully making people aware of the challenges we have in the world, together with our passion for racing.”