Following Wednesday’s practice session at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Danica Patrick made her opinion very clear when asked to compare driving a NASCAR stock car vs. an IndyCar.
“All the IndyCar fans out there might find this warm and fuzzy, but everyone would always ask me if I had a hard time driving those big old stock cars and if they were really physical, and I’m like (she snickers), ‘No, they are way easier than an IndyCar to drive.’”
Patrick also said driving an IndyCar is more of a finite exercise, where attention must be paid to everything more closely than in a stock car, all the way down to the safety belts.
“Maybe this isn’t a popular thing to say but you didn’t have to run the belts all that tight in a stock car,” she said. “You didn’t have to worry about your helmet or the padding that much (in NASCAR). It was all just like fine.
“But in an IndyCar, it’s all critical.”
Patrick’s comments echo those of NASCAR driver Kurt Busch following his first practice sessions while preparing for the 2014 Indianapolis 500.
“With a Cup car, we have to lift – not necessarily get on the brakes, but at least know they’re there – and settle the car down before you turn in,” Busch said. “This, you’re driving down the middle of the straightaway, then you swerve wide to gain that nice arc into the corner – and there’s no deceleration rate.”
It’s clear Patrick still holds a strong affinity to IndyCar racing. It’s where she first made a name for herself. It’s also where she won a race, while her best career finish in a NASCAR Cup race was sixth.
And it will be in an IndyCar that Patrick will compete in the last race of any type in her career, the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 27.
“I remember watching the Indy 500 the first year I wasn’t in it and I missed it,” Patrick said. “I miss that relevancy of being in the game and being someone like before the race, where they’re like, ‘Who do you think is going to win today?’ My name did not pop in NASCAR, you know?
“I missed being relevant. So I’m going to try and achieve that here this month. It’s going to be hard because everybody is really good.”
As she prepares for the opening of practice for the 500 on May 15, Patrick isn’t just thinking about winning the race, she’s also soaking in all the atmosphere and legacy of Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“It always feels like home here at Indy,” she said. “The track feels so familiar, everything like from the walk to pit lane. I’m just waiting for the alley cats to show up, basically.”
Check out the following tweet to hear more of what Patrick had to say.
After two days of practice, Patrick is consistently up to 220 mph in laps around the 2.5-mile IMS oval. It doesn’t look like she’s lost much from her previous IndyCar tenure.
When her comments about NASCAR and IndyCar first hit social media, battle lines between fans of each genre of motorsport were quickly drawn.
One tweet in particular, however, helped make more precise what Patrick said, leading the Illinois native to respond in kind by saying simply, “thank you.”