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Danica Patrick: ‘I don’t love being miserable every weekend’

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For Danica Patrick, her NASCAR career is all “about having fun.”

But eight races into the 2017 season, there’s not a lot to be had with Stewart-Haas Racing’s No. 10 team.

Patrick, in her fifth full-time season in the Cup Series, is 30th in the points standings. That puts her behind Michael McDowell and Cole Whitt. A DNF last Monday at Bristol Motor Speedway was her third of the year. She hasn’t finished better than 17th (Atlanta).

Her struggles come as Stewart-Haas Racing is deep in a legal battle with Patrick’s former sponsor, Nature’s Bakery.

But it’s all taken a toll on any optimism Patrick had at the beginning of the year.

“Like I probably told you at the beginning of the year, every year I come into it with hope,” Patrick said Wednesday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “Now that hope has kind of been crushed because we’ve been through enough races it’s not going to be like a light switch. But it’s kind of turned me into a light switch. It’s time for some honesty, it’s time for some figuring out what the hell we’re doing because this is not helping anybody.”

“It doesn’t really help anybody if I’m out there running 25th. I’m not sure that does a lot for me.”

Patrick’s finish of 36th at Bristol gave her an average finish of 27.1 through eight races. The last time she placed in the top 15 was when she finished 11th in last fall’s Bank of America 500, 15 races ago.

Even with her hope crushing results so far, Patrick has a lot going for her off the track. Next year she’ll publish her first fitness and health book, “Pretty Intense.” In January, she launched her “Warrior by Danica Patrick” fashion line.

With Patrick not having much fun in her current position on the track, could there be a team or career change for the 35-year-old driver soon?

“Could mean either, to be honest,” Patrick said. “If I could do better with a different team then I would do it. I do love racing. But I don’t love being miserable every weekend like I am now. Let’s face it, the people around me probably aren’t that happy either. None of us want to go out there and not run well. In the mean time, nothing would be easier than just continuing.

“Continuing with the same people and with the same team if I could. But it’s also a matter of being realistic about what’s going to be possible and what makes sense and where I’m going to be the most successful. And everything takes care of itself when things go well on track.”

Patrick will next pilot her No. 10 Ford at Richmond International Raceway. In eight starts at the .75-mile track, Patrick has an average finish of 24th. But she earned her best finish there last fall when she placed 15th.

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Six cars to miss time in final Cup practice session

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KANSAS CITY, Kansas – Six Cup teams, including playoff contenders Chase Elliott and Jamie McMurray, will each miss 15 minutes of today’s final practice session at Kansas Speedway because of inspection issues, NASCAR announced.

Three teams were penalized 15 minutes in Saturday morning’s first practice – Derrike Cope, Landon Cassill and AJ Allmendinger. Each were penalized for being late to qualifying inspection Friday.

Teams penalized 15 minutes in final Cup practice will be Elliott, McMurray, Cope, Trevor Bayne, Paul Menard and Aric Almirola.

Bayne, Elliott and Almirola were penalized for failing qualifying/race inspection twice at Talladega.

Cope, McMurray and Menard were penalized for failing qualfiying qualifying inspection twice at Kansas.

Final Cup practice is scheduled from 1:30 – 2:20 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Today’s Xfinity race at Kansas: Start time, weather, TV/radio info

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The Xfinity Series begins the second round of its playoffs with today’s Kansas Lottery 300 at Kansas Speedway.

Here is all the info you need for the race.

(All times are Eastern)

START: Kansas Lt. Gov. Dr. Jeff Colyer will give the command to start engines at 2:56 p.m. Green flag is scheduled for 3:05 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is scheduled for 200 laps (300 miles) around the 1.5-mile oval.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 45. Stage 2 ends at Lap 90.

PRERACE SCHEDULE: Qualifying is slated for 12:05 p.m. Driver introductions are at 2:25 p.m.

NATIONAL ANTHEM: Mary Ann Hotaling will perform the anthem at 2:51 p.m..

TV/RADIO:  NBC will broadcast the race at 3 p.m. Coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. on NBCSN with Countdown to Green. Motor Racing Network will broadcast the race on radio and at mrn.com, starting with its pre-race show at 2:30 p.m. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the MRN broadcast.

FORECAST: The wunderground.com site predicts a temperature of 76 degrees and a 15 percent chance of rain at race time.

LAST TIME: Kyle Busch dominated this race last fall, leading 150 of 200 laps. Elliott Sadler finished second. Daniel Suarez was third.

STARTING LINEUP: Qualifying is at 12:05 p.m.

Saturday’s NASCAR Cup, Xfinity schedule at Kansas Speedway

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Today’s racing action at Kansas Speedway includes two NASCAR Cup practices, as well as Xfinity qualifying and race.

Today’s Xfinity race will be the first in the Round of 8, which will determine the four finalists for next month’s championship race.

Here is today’s schedule:

(All times are Eastern)

8 a.m. — Xfinity garage opens

9:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. — Cup garage open

11 – 11:55 p.m. — Second Cup practice (NBC Sports App, MRN)

12:05 p.m. – Xfinity qualifying (multi-vehicle, three rounds) (NBCSN)

1:15 p.m. – Xfinity driver/crew chief meeting

1:30 – 2:20 p.m. – Final Cup practice (NBCSN, MRN)

2:30 p.m. – Xfinity driver introductions

3 p.m. – Kansas 300 Xfinity race (200 laps, 300 miles) (NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Ryan Blaney’s car fails inspection after qualifying

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KANSAS CITY, Kansas – Playoff contender Ryan Blaney’s car failed inspection after qualifying third Friday night at Kansas Speedway, NASCAR announced.

NASCAR stated that the car’s package tray did not maintain its original shape. That is the metal that holds the rear window in place.

Blaney will start last in the 40-car field and have the last pick of pit stalls this weekend and next weekend at Martinsville Speedway. There will be no further penalties.

Team co-owner Eddie Wood said:

“The rules are pushed to the max in every area, and today the NASCAR officials found something they didn’t like about our car. We’re not disputing their decision. We’ll own it and move on.

“We’ll work on our car in Saturday’s practice, line up in the back on Sunday and look forward to watching Ryan drive his way to the front.”

Blaney enters Sunday’s elimination race two points ahead of Jimmie Johnson, who holds the eighth final transfer spot for the next round. Kyle Busch is nine points behind Blaney and Matt Kenseth is 10th.

Four of the 12 playoff contenders will be eliminated after Sunday’s race.

By starting at the rear, Blaney will be challenged to be in the top 10 by Lap 80 to score stage points. If he doesn’t, he could fall behind Johnson and Busch after the first stage.

Below is Section 20.4.17.8 of the Cup Rule Book, which features a diagram of the package tray

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