Danica Patrick inspects her car before Nationwide Series practice on Friday. (Getty)
KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- With four races to go in the 2012 Nationwide Series season, Danica Patrick is 10th in the points standings, two points ahead of Joe Nemechek, who has run one fewer race. She has two top 10s, and the most memorable moments of her season aren't celebrations, but rather disappointments.
"I feel like we've been overall much faster than what our results have showed and performed better in the race than what our results have showed," Patrick said. We definitely had a pretty long stretch of bad luck through the summer and I feel like that was maybe where we had the most speed. Everything from Elkhart to Daytona to Iowa, there a bunch of races that things happened that were not completely out of my control but definitely not always in my control fully.
"I feel like with that in mind, it's been an okay season. We recognize as a team that we need to find speed and that's why you've seen the changes happen in the team that have happened. We all want to get faster. We all want to be more competitive and I feel like we've been inching a little bit closer here at the end of the year. I don't know if we'll get all the way by the end of this season but making progress is key."
At Road America, Patrick was hit by Jacques Villeneuve on the final lap while running fourth. She crashed in both Daytona races, and in the first Iowa race, lost a tire and finished 30th. Oh, and we can't forget the shoe. While leading at Montreal, Patrick ran over a shoe that had been thrown onto the track by a fan. And then, in a problem later determined to be unrelated to the shoe, something broke on the car and she finished 27th. 13 points-eligible drivers have competed in every Nationwide race this season, and among them, only Mike Wallace, Jason Bowles and Jeremy Clements are lower in the standings.
Next year, Patrick moves full-time to the Sprint Cup Series for Stewart Haas Racing. Tony Gibson, the current crew chief for Ryan Newman, will be her crew chief next year, and will also be atop her box for her final two Sprint Cup Series races in 2012. Matt Borland, SHR's vice president of competition, will become Newman's crew chief starting at Martinsville. Newman and Borland worked together at Penske Racing.
"For me, ultimately because I'm moving on, it's about learning and understanding cars understanding changes and just getting a better grasp of all of the elements for the weekend," Patrick said. "Ultimately I am disappointed with the results. I wish they were better. I wish there were better things on the record books. I would imagine a lot of drivers can say that at the end of the year."
"As far as what came out yesterday it hasn't even been to our department yet and our side," Stewart said. "We don't really have anything to do with that at this point. I think whatever happens it will be interesting to see when it comes Super Bowl Sunday for sure. As far as what she is doing with the race team and the commitment there it is all the same. For us we read everything yesterday and laughed about it and going on."
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