The tumultuous adventure in the NASCAR Nationwide Series continues as Danica Patrick returns to a place she knows, Texas Motor Speedway.
Patrick is preparing for the O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge at a track where she garnered a second place finish in June with her IndyCar racer. The track is familiar to her, but running it in a heavy stock car is a whole different deal as she has come to realize.
Her spotter T.J. Majors and crew chief Tony Eury, Jr. will be doing their best to guide her through the field, trying to boost her confidence with each lap. She has shown her feisty spirit recently on the track and even looks a bit racy at times.
Though her stats don’t appear noteworthy with and average finish of 29.1, she may have done much better had it not been for the accident factor, much of which was not her fault.
On the JR Motorsports team preview, Patrick stated, “I can tell you that top 15’s are the goals we have for our GoDaddy team through the end of the year. It’s something I feel we can do. I think we’ve had some chances this year, especially at Fontana. I know that I’ve learned as I’ve gone along. I feel a little more under control. Not everything is happening as fast for me as it was at the beginning.”
Patrick will be running the last three races of the NASCAR Nationwide series this year and the first four races of the season next year before starting her open-wheel series. Homestead, the final race this year, is another track where she was able to capture a second place finish with her IndyCar ride.
Controversy will continue to ride shotgun with Patrick as people debate whether she belongs in NASCAR or how serious she is about it. Time will come all too quickly when Patrick will have to decide if she wants to drive open-wheel cars or stock cars. It has made her NASCAR learning curve more difficult with the IndyCar schedule.
The driver of the No. 7 GoDaddy Chevrolet for JR Motorsports seems very serious about proving she can race with the boys and “have at it” with them. The continuity of seat time she has at the end of this season and the beginning of next season should show if she can truly get a handle on stock car racing.
We shall watch the Danica Patrick experiment play out this coming weekend. She has at least raised her goals from a top-20 finish to a top-15. Maybe this will be the weekend she can start proving her goals are within reach.