DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Open-wheel racing star Danica Patrick turned her first laps in a stock car on Friday at Daytona International Speedway, the first day of a three-day test for the ARCA Racing Series presented RE/MAX and Menards in preparation for the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 on Saturday, Feb. 6.
Patrick, behind the wheel of the No. 88 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet for JR Motorsports, turned only four laps in Friday’s 35-minute session that was cut short due to rain showers. She was 12th on the speed chart with a lap of 51.095 seconds, 176.142 mph.
“It’s definitely by far the biggest track that I have been on in a stock car since I’ve only ever been on a mile before,” Patrick said. “It was a big difference. The car moves around quite a bit. The car was definitely getting some action in the rear over the bumps. It was getting a little bit loose but I kept my foot in it and tried not chasing it too much with the steering.”
Venturini Motorsports swept the top three spots on the speed charts on Friday led by Mikey Kile in a Toyota (180.708 mph), Steve Arpin (179.648) and local Daytona Beach native Alli Owens (178.660). Brandon McReynolds, son of former Daytona 500-winning crew chief Larry McReynolds, was fourth fastest with a speed of 178.204.
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.
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.
While it was only one run, Patrick was happy to finally get on the 31-degree high banks.
“I was glad to get out there,” Patrick said of Friday’s session. “It would have been nice to do a few runs and actually make a change or two (on the car) and feel things out. I’m definitely glad to have gotten that run. We will go from here. I’m happy with that and we’re ready to build on that.”
Friday’s first day of ARCA testing wasn’t Patrick’s first laps around DIS. She has turned laps around the road course in both the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series and during an Izod IndyCar Series test back in 2007.
But being in a stock car on Friday did have its noticeable changes.
“I felt most disoriented with how the heck am I suppose to get my stuff on because I can’t get into the car with all that stuff on,” Patrick said. “I got to buckle my belts and I can’t do it with my helmet on. So I get in the car and I’ve got to tuck my hair down the back of my suit and I can’t do it because I’m strapped in. I’m just awfully confused. So I decided that I need to put everything on but my helmet and then get in the car. It sounds silly but it’s logistics and logistics that I’m not used to.”
The three-day test session, which runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, continues on Saturday 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)
Friday’s Top Speeds
1. Mikey Kile, Toyota, 180.708 mph
2. Steve Arpin, Toyota, 179.648
3. Alli Owens, Chevrolet, 178.660
4. Brandon McReynolds, Toyota, 178.204
5. Joey Coulter, Chevrolet, 177.771
6. Bryan Silas, Ford, 177.574
7. Nick Igdalsky, Ford, 176.852
8. Lance Fenton, 176.828
9. Grant Enfinger, 176.703
10. Matt Lofton, 176.699
12. Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, 176.142
19. Dakoda Armstrong, Dodge, 174.771
23. Patrick Sheltra, Dodge, 171.373