HOMESTEAD, Fla. — It hasn’t exactly been a bed of roses for Danica Patrick in her first season as a semi-regular in the NASCAR Nationwide series.
In fact, by anyone’s standards, she has pretty much failed to live up to the hype that has followed her from the IZOD IndyCar series circuit where she is one of the few recognizable stars.
She has yet the crack the Top 20 in any of her races and has an average finish of 29th in the No. 5 JR Motorsports Chevrolet.
But she in improving.
At Phoenix last week and at Texas the week before Patrick showed signs she has finally conquered the learning curve on how to drive the 3400 pound stock cars.
Just as she is getting the heck of it, however, she is also getting a rougher ride from her Nationwide competitors.
“It was frustrating following last week’s race,” she said this week as she prepares for the Ford 300 at Homestead Miami Speedway on Saturday.
“We started off OK, but as the race progressed things kept happening. I just need to start racing competitors the same way they race me.”
And that’s what she did, at one point even bumping some of the other racers aside to get by.
“My Go Daddy crew works too hard all weekend for me to let competitors use us up,” Patrick said. “I’ve always been a clean racer, but sometimes you’ve got to make a statement.”
Patrick admits that NASCAR is a different animal than IndyCars, but she is having fun.
“This whole NASCAR experience really left me out of my element, but it was a lot of fun,” she said. “I feel a lot more comfortable, both inside the car and on the racetrack.”