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IndyCar Series: Firestone Indy 200

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Firestone Indy 200

IndyCar Series: Firestone Indy 200

Danica Patrick
July 15, 2006


NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE

THE MODERATOR: We'll start with our post race briefings. Joined by Danica Patrick, our story today, best finish of the season, ties her career best with a fourth place finish, in addition to a fourth place this year, fourth place last year in both Japan and Indianapolis.
Danica, tell us about your evening.
DANICA PATRICK: It was a good night. It was a night of catching a break or two and keeping up with the race car. It was kind of an ever-changing track. I remember last year the track picked up grip the whole time. It did the same thing tonight.
We were being called to pit, pit, pit for fuel. The yellow came out. I caught that break, which was nice, because it seems like I've been caught out on that all season so far. Gosh, at Indy I thought it happened -- every time I went out on a sticker set of tires, the yellow came out, even in practice. I've been unfortunate, but I'm glad I caught a break this weekend.
Pit crew did a good job. We got in and out of the pits well. I was able to keep up with the race car out there. Like I said, the track changes. I've never had a race car yet that is the same from the beginning to the end of the race. I've never had one the same from the beginning to the end of a fuel stint.
The best part about all that was that I was able to chase the race car and have enough adjustment in the cockpit. That's not something that's happened for quite a while that I've been able to actually have enough adjustment inside the cockpit with the weight jacker and the front and rear roll bars, which I did tonight, which means we were in a pretty good range with the car.
I'm proud of the team. We've had quite a long season so far, starting with the beginning of the season. Obviously, the first race was one to remember and one not to remember. Indy was 10 times more difficult than last year. Obviously, changing over to the Dallara, we, mostly the pit crew, has been working their tails off in preparing these cars.
I'm just relieved we were able to run up there for a while at the end. We have not even really started with this race car. We've only scratched the surface of it in what we can find to make it go faster. I'm happy about that. We still have a lot of racing left to do in the season. I just hope that we can sort of build on this. This is good momentum for the team and myself.
THE MODERATOR: We'll take a couple questions for Danica.

Q. Looked like your car was handling extremely well. You could stay low all the way around the track. Your car was obviously handling very well.
DANICA PATRICK: Yeah, I was lucky. I started taking the bottom line for a while, was able to hang on the whole time, which is good, because obviously that's a tighter line and it's slightly more difficult on the car. So it was pretty good. Like I said, I was able to really chase the car. I was ready to make some adjustments to run on bottom and I did have to make a little bit of adjustment, there was a little more understeer on the bottom, but it was just fine.

Q. Obviously the best finish of your season so far. What do you plan on for the rest of the year? How do you build on this?
DANICA PATRICK: I plan to build on this. It's not to say - and this is what I hoped for last year when I finished fourth at Motegi in the first couple rounds - gosh, I'm going to be up here for the rest of the season. Doesn't always happen like that, you know. You go up, you go down, you go up, you go down. You just hope that this sort of crooked ladder keeps going upwards.
But, you know, the next event's Milwaukee. It was a strong event for me last year. I think I qualified like sixth. It was by far the best race on a short oval we had last year. Seems like some of the same principles from the old chassis carry over, but we obviously have a new chassis, so there's more exploring to do.
I'd like to think it was probably my most sort of fierce driving that I did last year, was at Milwaukee. I pushed very hard. I was saying earlier to someone, it's going to be a little more difficult since we don't have traction control. Man, if you guys were there at Milwaukee last year, it was so unbelievably hot. It just got so slippery. It's going to be a little bit more challenging this year. We might see some more yellows.

Q. After the week, the swirl of attention about what your future might hold, was it kind of nice to get in the car and concentrate on the present?
DANICA PATRICK: Yeah, you know. As I was kind of getting into the car tonight, I thought to myself, I mean, I was really nervous, and it's just proved yet again that the more nervous I am, the better I do. It's not healthy. Those big butterflies don't ever feel good in your stomach. You never feel so good. But it seems to work for me.
Once I got in the car, I kind of took a deep breath and was just like, as soon as I get out there, it's over, I don't think about anything any more. That's sort of a relaxing feeling.
As true or not true as this is, I almost feel like nobody can see me out there. I don't know how weird that sounds, but I feel like it's just me out there, nobody's looking at my every move. Although everybody's looking at my rpm, speed traces, gear, weight jacker, and every move I make, I feel alone, and that's kind of nice.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Danica.
DANICA PATRICK: Thank you.

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