Danica Patrick Goes Drafting At Daytona

Open-wheel star continues to prep for Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 during Speedweeks 2010

Danica Patrick

Danica Patrick signs autographs during a break in Saturday's ARCA testing.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – During the second day of a three-day test session in preparation for the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 on Saturday, Feb. 6, open-wheel star Danica Patrick got a full day of on-track activity behind the wheel of the No. 88 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports.

Patrick was able to work with her team and crew chief Tony Eury Jr. on adjustments to her race car as well as participate in afternoon drafting practice.

“We had a good day,” Patrick said. “We got out there and we did a bunch of single-car running. At the beginning of the day, we did a bunch of 10-lap runs to just get laps and get comfortable and get the line and get everything down perfectly. Then we went to some shorter runs and then we did some group running. We actually did a 40-lap run.

“It was a lot of fun. It’s different than driving the cars that I drive. You can run so much closer and you can cross over each other. But you need to run really close so like there’s no room for error if someone makes a mistake. That’s going to be the challenge. But it was a productive day. I learned a lot and I feel really comfortable in the car. Tomorrow is going to be even better."

The IZOD IndyCar Series star was 25th fastest in Saturday morning session with a speed of 179.183 mph. In the afternoon, she posted a speed of 181.554, good enough for 19th fastest. In her other No. 88 Chevrolet in the afternoon session, she was 20th fastest with a lap of 181.375 mph.

Patrick said she gained valuable experience from the afternoon drafting sessions.

“I guess you can run a lot closer than what I thought,” Patrick said. “Two car lengths up above from my spotter is like on him for me. That’s on him, you are on him in IndyCar. It was a little bit more challenging to get that last car length or get up on him. We even got to the point where they’re like, ‘give him a little bump down the straight.’ I was trying but I couldn’t catch him. It’s getting into that mode that you need to be right on him to take advantage of the situation and stay with the draft.”

Patrick will make her stock car debut at NASCAR’s most storied track – Daytona International Speedway – in the season-opening Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 and will use the 80-lap, 200-mile race to prepare for her partial NASCAR Nationwide Series schedule with JR Motorsports.

“She’s doing really good,” Eury Jr. said. “Drafting is not something that you learn overnight. She has done really good learning how to stay in a pack, learning what the car does in different aero situations. We’re pretty pleased. I think I need a little more speed in the car just in single car runs. Overall, it has been a good successful day. We’ll come back here tomorrow and let her draft a little bit more and I think we will be game on.”

The Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 event on Saturday, Feb. 6 is part of a racing tripleheader day at Daytona International Speedway with Daytona 500 Qualifying presented by Kroger and the Budweiser Shootout All-Star race all being held on the same day. Tickets start at $39.

Not just Patrick: While Danica Patrick’s participation in this weekend’s ARCA test is garnering plenty of national attention, there are nine other women drivers in attendance for the three-day test.
The list of women drivers includes:
• Daytona Beach native and Atlantic High School graduate Alli Owens driving the No. 15 Venturini Motorsports Chevrolet
• Leilani Munter driving a Dodge for Mark Gibson Racing
• IndyCar Series driver Milka Duno, a native of Venezuela, testing the No. 90 Braun Racing Toyota
• Jennifer Jo Cobb in the No. 21 Bowsher Racing Ford
• Michelle Theriault, Jill George and Ashley Parlett are all testing Fords for Fast Track Racing
• Amber and Angela Cope, twin nieces of 1990 Daytona 500 champion Derrike Cope who are shaking down Dodges for Rick Markle Racing.

“They are 10 girls out here now so it’s just not me anymore,” said Owens, who sat on the outside pole for the 2009 Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200. “There are a lot of us out here. I’m looking forward to seeing how they do compared to us. I know we have really good equipment.  It will be nice to see them up there on the board.

“It’s a really good sign for the sport. I try not to get caught up in the female aspect of it. To me when they put their helmet on, they are nine other drivers out there to beat.”

International feel: There is a strong international presence during this weekend’s ARCA test with countries such as India, China and Canada represented.

Narain Karthikeyan, who is the only Indian driver to ever compete in Formula 1, is testing with Starbeast Motorsports, a newly formed team that has formed a strategic partnership with JTG Daugherty Racing for technical and marketing support.

Darryl O’Young of China is Karthikeyan’s teammate at Starbeast and represented his country in a full season of the FIA GT championship and has competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

“As a young driver, you know about Monaco, Indianapolis, Daytona and a few other races,” Karthikeyan said . “I’ve grown up knowing about the (Daytona) circuit and to be here in such a historic circuit, it was awesome this morning went I went out for my laps.”

Karthikeyan is unsure of his future stock car plans but would love a return trip to the 31-degree high banks for February’s Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200.

“I’m use to open-wheel cars, single seaters, this is a whole new ball game,” Karthikeyan said.

Wheeler Boys joins Derek White, Steve Arpin and Terry among Canadians testing at Daytona. Boys, whose father Trevor made 102 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts between 1982-93 and five Daytona 500 starts, is testing the No. 48 Dodge for Hylton Motorsports.

Fastest of the day: Mikey Kile posted the fastest speed of the day in the No. 25 Venturini Motorsports Toyota with a speed 183.061 mph.

The three-day test session, which runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., will conclude on Sunday and is open to the public with free access to the Oldfield Grandstands through the lobby of Daytona 500 Experience. In addition, trams will be available to transport race fans into the Sprint FANZONE to view all the testing action for $15.

Tickets for all Speedweeks 2010 events are available online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP and fans can stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter (www.twitter.com/disupdates) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/DaytonaInternationalSpeedway)

Saturday’s Top Speeds
Morning session
1. Patrick Sheltra, 181.811 mph
2. Mikey Kile, 181.411
3. Steve Arpin, 181283
4. Alli Owens, 181.280
5. Steve Blackburn, 180.872
6. James Buescher, 180.603
7. Matt Lofton, 180.473
8. Bobby Gerhart, 180.444
9. Joey Coulter, 180.426
10. Terry Jones, 180.263

Afternoon session
1. Mikey Kile, 183.061 mph
2. Steve Arpin, 182.957
3. Alli Owens, 182.957
4. James Buescher, 182.511
5. Brandon McReynolds, 182.471
6. Patrick Sheltra, 182.352
7. Randy Renfro, 182.282
8. Bryan Silas, 182.208
9. Dakoda Armstrong, 182.157
10. Josh Richards, 182.120

Other notables
18. Ricky Carmichael, 181.583
19. Danica Patrick, 181.554
26. Bobby Gerhart, 180.267

Tickets for all Speedweeks 2010 events are available online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP and fans can stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter (www.twitter.com/disupdates) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/DaytonaInternationalSpeedway)

2009 ARCA testing

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2009 ARCA testing

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