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

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After two weekends off, the Xfinity Series is back in action today at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Elliott Sadler enters as the points leader with a 29-point advantage on JR Motorsports teammate Justin Allgaier. William Byron, who also drives for JR. Motorsports, is third in the standings. Byron and Sadler are going for their first victory of the season, while Allgaier seeks his second win this year.

Here are the particulars for today’s Xfinity race:

(All times are Eastern)

START: The Evil Genius’ Halo ESports Team will give the command for drivers to start engines at 1:07 p.m. The green flag is scheduled for 1:18 p.m.

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

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

PRERACE SCHEDULE: The Xfinity garage opens at 6:30 a.m. The drivers meeting is at 11:15 a.m. Driver introductions are at 12:30 p.m.

NATIONAL ANTHEM: Star Swain will perform the Anthem at 1:01 p.m.

TV/RADIO: Fox Sports 1 will broadcast the race at 1 p.m. Its coverage begins at 12:30 p.m. Performance Racing Network will broadcast the race on radio and at gorpn.com. PRN’s coverage begins at 12:30 p.m. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry PRN’s broadcast.

FORECAST: The wunderground.com site predicts 85 degrees at race time with a 15 percent chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST YEAR: Denny Hamlin led 76 laps to win this even a year ago. Austin Dillon was second and Joey Logano third. Logano led the final 12 laps to win at Charlotte in October. Elliott Sadler was second and Daniel Suarez was third.

STARTING LINEUP: Qualifying is at 10:05 a.m.

Today’s schedule at Charlotte: Cup practice, Xfinity qualifying and race

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NASCAR goes racing today with the Hisense 4K TV 300 Xfinity Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Denny Hamlin won this race last year.

Here is today’s track schedule, as the countdown to Sunday’s main event of the weekend, the Coca-Cola 600, ticks closer:

(All times Eastern)

6:30 a.m. – Xfinity garage opens

7:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. – Cup garage open

9 – 9:55 a.m. – Cup practice (FS1)

10:05 a.m. – Xfinity qualifying (multi-vehicle, three rounds) (FS1)

11:15 a.m. – Xfinity driver/crew chief meeting

11:30 a.m. – 12:20 p.m. – Cup final practice (FS1)

12:30 p.m. – Xfinity driver introductions

1 p.m. – Xfinity Hisense 4K TV 300 (200 laps, 300 miles) (FS1, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

My Home Track: North Carolina’s Caraway Speedway (video)

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Sure, NASCAR is synonymous with Daytona Beach, the state of Florida and Daytona International Speedway.

But there is no other state that is so linked to NASCAR than the Tar Heel state, North Carolina.

Numerous racetracks, from the smallest grassroots short track to Charlotte Motor Speedway dot the state, offering a plethora of race action from amateur all the way to the best of the best.

On Friday’s My Home Track: 50 States in 50 Shows segment, NASCAR America’s Kyle Petty shared some of his fondest memories of one of his favorite short tracks, Caraway Speedway.

Check out the video above.

NASCAR America: Steve Letarte reflects on mentor Ray Evernham’s Hall of Fame selection

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Steve Letarte learned the sport of NASCAR from a number of different individuals.

But no one compares to Letarte’s greatest mentor, Ray Evernham, who was selected earlier this week as one of five individuals that will enter the NASCAR Hall of Fame in its 2018 class.

Evernham, who led Jeff Gordon to three of his four NASCAR Cup championships as Gordon’s crew chief, was not only an innovator in the sport, but also a leader, mentor and team owner.

On Friday’s NASCAR America, Letarte, an Evernham protege, discussed what made his former boss, teacher and close friend so special.  Check out the video above.