By HEATHER WILLIAMS
2:16 PM CST, January 21, 2013
CONCORD, North Carolina
I get it. It's Danica Patrick. She is the a female in a male dominated story. Every time she does something it's a story. Her story is almost always "groundbreaking" and yes it's never ending.
That being said, she is making the move up to the Sprint Cup series full time in 2013. She will be battling with Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. for rookie of the year. And she will bring Danica Nation with her. But she is realistic to know that 2013 will be a growing process for her.
"It's qualifying, it's getting up to speed quickly. That stuff that you need to trust the car and know what it's going to do," said Patrick. "I'm just not there yet, especially now in cup starting that full time. It's just a learning process."
Last season, Danica ran a handful of cup races, mostly with Greg Zipadelli as crew chief. This season Tony Gibson will move over from Ryan Newman's car, to the 10. If you know anything about Gibson, you might think it's an odd match, but Patrick says for some reason it just works.
"For some reason I like these good ole boys," said Patrick. "I don't know I got along great with Tony Eury, Jr. I just feel like they have a good feel for the sports and they are very hands on.
Patrick teammate and team owner Tony Stewart says he also likes what he season early on from the pairing.
"He's fun he makes it fun," said Stewart. "I think having a crew chief that is that relaxed, it's just an asset for her."
And although she says it had nothing to do with the timing of her move from Nationwide to Sprint Cup, Patrick did pick a pretty good time to me be a rookie, as NASCAR makes the move to the Gen6 car. That's because essentially everyone is a rookie, an there are no huge competitive advantages to for drivers that have been around awhile, at least when it comes to handling.
"Everyone is starting at the same base with each other, no one has had time in it more than anyone else," said Stewart. "That is a positive to having a new car for someone who has less experience."
Her teammate Ryan Newman agrees. But knows the vets still have an advantage on Patrick.
"She especially has to adapt more this year, even with the new car," said Newman. "But like she said she's adapted so many time the last five years. It's not rocket science.
One interesting thing we learned at Monday's chat with the racers of Stewart Haas racing is that Tony Stewart (who is a past champion) will not be transferring points to the 10 team. Which means he has no room for error in qualifying for the first seven races. If she is not one of the 35 fastest in qualifying, she does not race.
Which might be the first true test of the new qualifying rules chances. Especially since she is arguably the second most popular driver in the sport after Dale Junior.
Stewart says he had confidence in Patrick and why not she's been breaking down barriers for a long time now.
"You know when you are bringing someone like Danica in, that's a lot of stress and a lot of pressure that's not due to us. It's due to the media that follows her. It's a double edge sword for her."
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