For Danica Patrick, practice at Walkin’s Glen did not go anything like she planned. The day started off with a blown motor, resulting in plenty of loss time as the team made the change. Then out on track with only five minutes left in the session, she would have a tire go flat, causing her to make heavy contact with the tire barrier.
“I blew a tire. I have no idea,” she commented afterwards. “I think it was only two laps, the second lap on tires. So apparently the No. 20 was radioing in saying there was some smoke. I never saw any, but he said he saw it and said ‘you guys should pit.’ Just in the carousel there is so much load on the left-front there that I guess that was the go spot for it. It has been a record horrible day I’m pretty sure.”
Crew chief Tony Gibson commented that based on what he saw, it is possible that a shock broke near the beginning of the lap, resulting in a flat tire.
“She went into (Turn) one and she said it moved more than it normally did and then (Matt) Kenseth said it started tire smoking and as soon as he said that she hit,” he explained. “It looks to me like a shock broke. It looks like it just compressed all down and done.”
With not getting the start that she hoped for the weekend, Patrick is hoping that she has used all her bad luck and mistakes up for the weekend heading into Saturday’s qualifying session and Sunday’s race. Though unfortunately, it will continue to have it’s effect as Patrick will have to start at the back on Sunday. Gibson says that his attitude as a crew chief will be to simply treat qualifying as another practice session for Patrick.
“I would say if you are going to have to start at the back of a track the strategies are all over the place on road courses and it just might push us into something that works,” she commented.
In trying to better her 20th place finish from a year ago, Patrick says that no doubt her and Tony Gibson will try to get off-sequence in an attempt to gain track position.
” I think that from the beginning – there are only two to three stops that are really needed so you’ve got to start from the beginning and just try and pit when nobody else does,” she commented. “If a yellow comes out you stay out and go long on fuel to try and make it in two stops and if nobody is coming in and trying to stretch it then you come in and hope for a yellow, then when the caution comes out you don’t pit and they do. Then you just fight for your life after that to not be driven over. I feel like the tires have been pretty consistent this weekend, so I think that is something we can pull off if everything goes our way.”