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IndyCar Series: Firestone Indy 400

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Firestone Indy 400

IndyCar Series: Firestone Indy 400

Danica Patrick
July 31, 2005


BROOKLYN, MICHIGAN

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Danica Patrick. I heard you say on the IMS Radio Network it was not the most fun day for you. If you could tell us more about that.

DANICA PATRICK: No. You know, I think I've been struggling with the car the whole weekend just trying to find a good balance that was consistent. If we ever hit it and made the car feel like it was good, it didn't seem to be the same the next time out. That was our struggle, just trying to find that consistency in the setup. Hit-and-miss for sure this weekend.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Danica.

Q. Coming out of two, it seemed like you would lose power or what you gained going into the first half of the race.

DANICA PATRICK: Yeah.

Q. Did you feel that, too?

DANICA PATRICK: Definitely at the beginning and at the very end, mostly at the beginning, though, the car -- the rear-end wanted to come around for a long time. I was changing things inside the cockpit to extremes that I had never done before just to try to get it to settle down. My lifting in one and two probably caused a little bit of the lack of speed out of two. I would say that would be the biggest difference. There was laps I was flat out, and there would be somebody next to me. For the most part, I'd beat 'em out - for the most part. So that would be more of the reason.

Q. You seemed to be making progress in the middle of the race. Starting to pick people off.

DANICA PATRICK: Yeah, I finally got the car to where I wanted it to be, in a place I could actually keep my foot on the throttle behind people, which I wasn't able to do at all during the day. The rest of the race, it would just be very twitchy and want to step out. I'm telling you at 200 plus, it's not fun and not comfortable. You know, I was looking to just make sure, first and foremost, I kept the car off the wall and made it to the finish line. In the process, just improved the car as we went along. It seemed like that yellow just put us back a step. The track seemed to change again. I don't know if the grip was just coming into the track progressively. I wasn't keeping up with the car enough to make the car go from a track that wanted to oversteer to a track that wanted to understeer. I would like to think there was a more consistent setup we could have had on the car, not something so finicky that was changing lap to lap. You know, it's just one of those things. I guess that's why we're professionals, is 'cause we're supposed to know how to change that stuff. And I was. But, again, like I said, I was changing things to extremes that I'd never done before. I was kind of stepping outside my comfort zone like, "Holy crap, what is 30 pounds of weight going to do to the right front? Oh, my gosh, here we go." I know that doesn't make any sense to you, but sorry.

Q. When you pulled off the end, what was the official reason? Fuel? Were you leaking?

DANICA PATRICK: I don't believe there's been an official reason for the failure and why we fell out of the race. I just know that I went into three and four and just something let go and I just didn't have any more drive any more. I don't know. There was some smoke. I saw that out the back, too, which is why I stopped at the beginning of pit lane. I didn't want to drop fuel the whole way down pit lane and make the cleanup crew have to oil dry pit lane, too. Not knowing what happened, I just was playing it safe and trying to make sure everybody else had a clean finish to the race at least.

Q. Can you explain when you first knew it was going to be this kind of day? Was it practice or lap one?

DANICA PATRICK: It might have been yesterday (laughter). You know, I mean, it's kind of a proven thing I think with a lot of people, and it can be overcome, don't get me wrong, but when the weekend starts off wrong or bad in any kind of way, it just sets the tone. You just start climbing an uphill battle the rest of the way. We definitely struggled immensely from the first practice session and thought we got it together by qualifying. You know, then to come find the racetrack today, for the race to be different than the practice this morning, it was just ever-changing. Didn't feel like we had this car with a big plateau comfort area. It was either we got it or we don't. I think that we were -- we might have just missed setup kind of as an overall grip thing somewhere. I don't know. I'm not an engineer. All I know is that the tone didn't start out as great as it has been a lot of other weekends.

Q. You keep talking about things being a learning experience. What do you take from this weekend?

DANICA PATRICK: Well, I think the biggest thing that I can take from this weekend is probably just getting good at setting up passes, understanding and getting used to closing, trying to set up passes so they happen and they don't kind of happen and pass me back because I'm lifting or because I don't have the run out of the corner or something. So it's a lot of just setting up. And also just, you know, feeling the car. You know, when something is not happy, the safest thing on these big ovals is to just slap some understeer into the car so you don't feel like the rear is going to come around because you are not going to keep your foot down if you think the rear is going to come around. Just really being proactive with the car and just really trying to make sure you have something that you can at least drive into the corner. I learned more about the car and the feeling. It taught me to hurry up and change things faster so you don't fall back (laughter).

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Danica.

DANICA PATRICK: Thanks, guys.

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