Danica Patrick looks forward to when she can be ‘stressed out’ in the Chase for the Sprint Cup


Like many of her fellow NASCAR drivers, Danica Patrick didn’t really know what to expect when the revised Chase for the Sprint Cup format was announced a year ago.

But as the 2014 season played out, particularly during the 10-race Chase, Patrick became a big fan of the format.

She especially loved the excitement, drama and the stress that the Chase drivers felt and went through during the four elimination rounds before a champ was crowned – which just happened to be Patrick’s Stewart-Haas Racing teammate, Kevin Harvick.

Appearing on Comcast SportsNet Chicago on Tuesday in a national video promotional tour for new sponsor TaxAct, Patrick would love to feel that Chase excitement, drama and stress herself.

“Hopefully I find myself in a position some day where I’m in that Chase format and I’m the one stressed out,” said Patrick, who grew up about 100 miles northwest of Chicago in tiny Roscoe, Illinois.

Patrick also is looking forward to the 2015 season with new crew chief Daniel Knost. The pair spent the last three races of last season together and has developed a synergy that should work well in the upcoming season.

Patrick especially likes that Knost, who spent the first 33 races of the 2014 Sprint Cup season as Kurt Busch’s crew chief, has an engineering background.

“I’m used to that from IndyCar,” Patrick told host David Kaplan. “The titles are different from IndyCar to NASCAR. … To have a crew chief that’s basically an engineer is much more of where I came from. … I think the sport is definitely getting more and more complicated.

“I think there’s a lot of potential for us and we’re going to have some learning to do with each other and how to work together best and get the most out of each other and the car, but I think there’s a real potential for us to have great finishes (in 2015).”

TaxAct will sponsor Patrick’s No. 10 SHR Chevrolet during the preseason Sprint Unlimited at Daytona International Speedway, as well as the spring race at Martinsville Speedway.

TaxAct will also be a secondary sponsor for Patrick’s effort in the season-opening Daytona 500 in a little over a month. To promote the new sponsorship, TaxAct is also sponsoring a contest where two lucky fans will be able to hang out with Danica at DIS during 500 weekend.

“Come see me, hang out with me and have an all-expense paid weekend,” Patrick said.

Fans can enter the contest by clicking here or going to TaxAct.com/Danica

By the way, you have to give Kaplan some points. When he told Patrick, who is now 32, that she still looks 24, she responded with a smile, a slight blush and a pumped fist.

“Awwww, thank you very much,” Patrick said.

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Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup

IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.



Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III