From the crowd you hear, “are you engaged?” to which Danica Patrick replies “no, not engaged Jenna” as she holds up her ringless hands. Jenna Fryer hoping to break the latest news in the world of Danica and Ricky.
With a smile on her face and witty remarks rolling off her tongue, Danica Patrick greeted the media center crowd ready to take any questions thrown at her.
“I was getting ready in the hauler…I said, I’ve got to go talk to the media for the first time this year. They’re like, oh, of course. What are they going to ask you? The first question is going to be, how was your winter. And there it is,” she said after the moderator opened with a “talk about your off-season” question.
Turning to racing and most importantly, her new teammates in Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch for 2014, Patrick seemed optimistic. “I think that this is going to be a year for opportunity, really,” she said. “I think that for me I’m able to feed off of their (Stewart, Harvick, Busch) experience and making the car better.”
Patrick and her Crew Chief Tony Gibson are in their second season together in the Sprint Cup Series and for the No.10 GoDaddy Chevrolet team, improvement is key in 2014. Patrick knows they will be better and acknowledges that there are many things that she needs to improve on but for her and her team, she knows 2014 will be a step ahead in the right direction.
“We’re going to be better because I have more experience,” she said in her media availability at Daytona, ” because we have more experiences together as a team, because we have more resources and more people, because we have a new energy, because we’re going to use our resources better as a team. I think those are all reasons why we’re going to do better.”
2013 started off with a bang for Patrick in her Rookie year and after the Daytona 500, reality set in. With just one top-10 and 12 lead lap finishes, 2013 was a learning year for Patrick. This season, she is determined to show she’s improved and with the new resources and faces in the Stewart-Haas Racing shop, utilizing them will be important.
“I think that the core focus (in 2014) is really preparing better cars and bringing as good a cars to the track as possible, and that comes through using our resources, being able to build them more similar to each other as they come out of production so we can keep up with the cars and we’re all driving the same thing,” Patrick said.
“I think the weak areas tend to be the ones that for me I always have to work on. But improving on qualifying, which I think that we did through the end of the year last year a little more…For us it was a matter of not throwing big things at the car and not trying to throw the kitchen sink at it during practice but hopefully arriving with a close enough setup and then fine tuning. What we found was there’s so much balance in tiny little things, whether it be packer or just little adjustments.”
“Between that and just kind of getting more ‑‑ what shows itself in getting more comfortable in those first laps qualifying, first start of the race, restarts, all those things, they all kind of go hand in hand, and those are the areas that I have to work on.”
Patrick, Gibson and the GoDaddy team are prepared and ready for 2014 and with the Daytona 500 right around the corner, it’s another great opportunity to start the year off with a bang. With four big personalities in the race shop at SHR, 2014 is gearing up to be one heck of a ride.