Danica's got game

DEAN MCNULTY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:59 AM ET

DAYTONA -- Danica Patrick doesn't do computer games.

Even after being pressured to use games and simulators to lessen her stock-car learning curve by her team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. and crew chief Tony Eury Jr. -- both avid gamers -- Patrick said Thursday that what she has learned so far about NASCAR racing she has done the old-fashioned way -- behind the wheel of the car.

"I did not do any computer simulations. Tony, Jr. has set me up with the whole iRacing kit," she said.

"I haven't started that yet. I'm not normally a video-game person, but I'll give it a whirl.

"(Eury) and Dale Jr. were talking about it last night. They just get so excited."

Patrick also set tongues wagging by saying that her first foray into stock cars has been way more fun than she though it would be -- giving rise to questions about her commitment to IndyCar racing where she's under contract this season with Andretti Autosports and is expected to race in Toronto and Edmonton this summer.

"Yes, I do like it. I didn't shy away from saying that I had so much fun last weekend in the ARCA race. I'm still having fun now.

"The fans have been good. People have been good. My team's great. Everybody has been helpful. The drivers are really helpful. So I'm having a blast."

So will the tiny perfect racer dump IndyCar?

"It's like having two kids," she said.

"I love them both the same."

Mad Max makes it

Max Papis wants the world to know that he's more than just a refugee from open-wheel racing.

The Italian native qualified for the Daytona 500 Thursday in the No. 13 Geico Toyota for the first time in his career. Now the ex-Formula 1 driver wants to be known as a NASCAR driver.

"I don't want to be called anymore the 'road course racer,' " Papis said. "I want to be called 'Mad Max, the NASCAR racer.' "

And living up to his monicker, Papis, said that all he concentrated on in Thursday's Gatorade Duel 150s was doing everything his crew chief Booty Barker told him.

"I do whatever he tells me. If he told me to roll the car over on the front stretch -- that's what I do."

Papis, 40, said that it has taken him so long to get to the top of stock-car racing he had developed a unique way of preparing for every race.

"Every race I do I drive like it is the last one ... every day is an audition at this level," he said. "Sometimes being the underdog is not a bad thing."

Teaming up

Four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon was more than a little peeved Thursday after the Duel 150s claiming that his Hendrick Motorpsorts teammates -- Jimmie Johnson and Mark Martin -- not only didn't help him out during the race, but in fact got in his way.

"Yeah, we had some teammates kinda gang up on us, which is pretty typical," Gordon said.

"(But) we had a real good effort in the DuPont Chevrolet. I was very pleased. We made some big gains from practice and got ourselves in position but unfortunately got shuffled back."

Gordon eventually found himself back in the pack where he got caught up in a wreck that could cost him his primary car on Sunday.

"Unfortunately we tore the car up when Michael (Waltrip) and Regan (Smith) got together," he said. "We'll just see. We're going to make a decision here pretty soon whether we're going to get the back-up out and we'll start wherever we're going to start and work our way up through there."

New rule

NASCAR announced Thursday that it has changed the rule regarding re-starts at the end of its races. If the race leader has taken the white flag and the caution flag is displayed, the field is frozen and the race will not be restarted. Previously, there was one restart attempt.

NASCAR officials met with drivers and teams Wednesday at Daytona International Speedway to discuss the change and get their input.

The announcement was made during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series' drivers and crew chiefs meeting on Thursday morning.

"We want to do all we can to finish our races under green flag conditions -- the fans want to see that and so do the competitors," Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice-president said of competition.

"We felt that putting a cap at three attempts to finish the race under green is the way to go. It gives the fans what they want and it also gives the teams a better opportunity to prepare for their end of race strategy."


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