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IndyCar Series: Argent Mortgage Indy 300

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Argent Mortgage Indy 300

IndyCar Series: Argent Mortgage Indy 300

Danica Patrick
July 3, 2005


THE MODERATOR: Danica Patrick has joined us. You started on the pole, finished ninth. Take us through your race.

DANICA PATRICK: Okay. Get ready to write. Well, on the start, I was completely flat on the power. There's really nothing I could have done more. It's tough when you're out in front 'cause you don't have the draft. Our fifth gear was a little bit too long and fourth gear was definitely too short because I tried that one. All the dash lights are coming on, going, "Don't be here." So I couldn't run fourth. I just had to run it out in fifth. So that was frustrating. Everybody is just going around me. I'm like, "I can't do anything more than go flat." I kind of dropped back, found a little groove. The engine starting cutting out and dying on me. You know, I'm on the radio thinking I'm done already. So we tried a couple of things in the cockpit with all the buttons that I have, and we turned off traction control, and that seemed to help it. Then that added to the next issue, which was pit stops. We spent a lot of time in pit lane. We had some understeer on the track. We took too much time trying to put front wing in the car, just too much time, lost tons of ground. Then we didn't have any traction control in the exit, so I almost hit everyone on the first time. I think there were people scattering everywhere, some like aimed towards the pit wall. That made our pit exits a little bit slow. As far as on the track, I mean, I felt like I had a really great car. That's why I was so frustrated after it was over. I didn't think the car -- I'm talking about the car like it's a person, kind of like Herbie, "I thought the car deserved to finish higher." I did. I think it was fast. I was able to catch people and I was able to overtake for the most part after a couple of tries. You know, a lot of people had understeer out there. We had wind pick up from 6 to 12 miles an hour today, which is huge for us. In three and four, there's a lot of people not able to be low. I was really low. So I was able to keep a little bit of wing around the corners. I made a lot of my passes just on the inside, just on the exit of the corner, down the front straight below the white line because people were pinching me down there. All kinds of fun stuff. Overall, we struggled in the pits today. We had a fast car. We did our homework. We worked hard. We got a fast car for the race. There was just a few things that went wrong here and there. When you add up a few things, this is where you end up.

THE MODERATOR: We'll get a few questions.

Q. You're halfway through your rookie season. Give yourself a grade. What do you think you've done well and what might you improve on?

DANICA PATRICK: I mean, I'd have to give myself a pretty darn good grade. I think I've adapted well to the situations. I feel comfortable in traffic more and more all the time. The only times I feel uncomfortable is when the car is off. That's normal. Everybody's going to feel like that. I think when the car is right, you know, I can do a pretty good job. We've worked well as a team. We've almost had pole at two races, I think, then finally got one. I think that's great. I think that my driving is becoming much more precise and much more calculated. I feel like I'm maturing pretty well as a driver. I don't know. I hate to give myself -- just throw it out there, I think I'm doing a good job. I think if I wasn't, people would be telling me.

Q. Is it a letdown to have won the pole yesterday and finish ninth today?


Q. How could a car be so good yesterday and then have all the problems you talked about today?

DANICA PATRICK: Have you seen underneath the hood of one of those things? There's a lot of stuff that can go wrong. There are so many wires and they all have a purpose. You know, when the engine was cutting out, it's just a little electrical glitch. They thought it was like a wheel speed sensor that was signaling that, you know, the wheel was spinning faster than anything else and cutting it out, traction control was kicking in. That's why we turned it off. I think that the car was good enough to be up front. So I would disagree in you saying it was a ninth-place car. It wasn't. I think it deserved a higher place. I know at the end, before we made our last little splash, when I was up with Tony and Vitor, and I think it was -- yeah, third. I felt completely comfortable there. I thought, "I can pass these guys, if we just didn't have to stop." I think that, you know, we just made some mistakes in the pits today. Just cost us.

Q. Have you forgotten about Rookie-of-the-Year and you're just focusing on winning races?

DANICA PATRICK: That's pretty much what my focus has been all year, is to work towards that goal. I think if you win races, then you're going to get Rookie-of-the-Year. Again, my goal tends to be higher. I tend to set the goal and the bar a little bit higher than what probably I should for the time being because I don't want to sell myself short. If I can go out there and win a race, I'm not going to go and try for Rookie-of-the-Year.

Q. Can you talk about some of the adjustments you've made over the course of your rookie year. What are some of the things you've learned and had to adjust to so far this year?

DANICA PATRICK: Just a different car. Just learning the car, you know, working with the team and getting in sync with the team, working with my engineer Ray. You kind of develop a language with your engineer. I don't think that there's anything outside of physically just driving the car that I've had to learn. I feel completely comfortable with traveling more because the schedule's busier. I feel comfortable with the media, with the fans. I think it's 'cause I understand why it's here. I understand that it's so good, it's so important to our sport. Nothing's really overwhelming me. The most overwhelmed I get is like this morning, I had tons of things to do. I felt like I needed my rest time before the race. That's about as bad as it gets. Other than that, it's important. It's a team job to make sure that you feel comfortable. I think I really -- I really don't think there have been huge adjustments other than just trying to learn the race car and learn how it handles in traffic. Other than that, keep truckin'.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Danica.

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