• 66°

Danica settles into car but still needs work in traffic

Danica back in the Indy car

IndyCar driver Danica Patrick waits to drive her refresher test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Tuesday, May 1, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

By Michael Marot

AP Sports Writer

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Danica Patrick got her No. 13 GoDaddy green Chevrolet up to speed quickly Wednesday.

She’s still trying to find her comfort level, had just a brief bit of time in traffic when she ran behind team owner Ed Carpenter, and understands it’s going to take some time to get reoriented with the new Indy cars.

If she’s learned anything from her first two days on the track, it’s this: patience. She had a text exchange with three-time winner Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti in which he said it took him two days to get comfortable again after an eight-month stint in stock cars.

“I did text Dario and say ‘Well, that was a bit of a shock,’” she said. “It definitely felt like there were 14 turbos on it.”

Much has changed since Patrick last competed on the open-wheel circuit in 2011.

The cars have a new, sleeker look, an aero kit series’ regulars are still trying to dial in, and turbo-charged engines to make them even faster. But Patrick faces a steeper learning curve than some after competing in NASCAR the past six years.

Admittedly, it hasn’t been entirely smooth.

During Tuesday’s refresher course, she acknowledged she was anxious and apprehensive about the “heavy steering,” and said she slept better Tuesday night after the day was in her rearview mirror.

By Wednesday’s closed manufacturers test session on Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s historic 2.5-mile oval, she was adapting to different padding inside the cockpit, tighter fitting seat belts and helmets, and a different feel in the driver’s seat.

The next big step could be running side by side with other cars and relearning the golden rule of IndyCar racing: Rubbing fenders, trading paint and the bump-and-run style racing prevalent in the Cup Series can be ruinous in this series.

So Patrick, a series regular from 2005-11, is taking it slowly.

“I never saw a car other than when I came in and out of the pits,” she said during Wednesday’s lunch break. “As for a tow, I know that if you can see a car, it’s helping you. But if you see a car it also can upset your car. There’s no need to rush it.”

Patrick won’t be back on the oval until May 15.

Qualifying for the May 27 race is scheduled for May 19 and 20. Thirty-five driver-car combinations are attempting to qualify for the traditional 33-car starting field.

Those who have made the transition from the heavier, more protective Cup cars to IndyCars believe Patrick will make a relatively smooth transition.

“I think with all her experience here, it will be like riding a bike,” said Larry Foyt, who started three 500s after running in the 2003 Brickyard 400 before taking over as president of A.J. Foyt Racing.

“Driving here in a stock car, you’re moving around, sliding there in the corners. I felt like it was easier to qualify for Indy 500.”

Experience also might help Patrick in other ways.

Ed Carpenter’s team has a knack for going fast in Indy qualifying, and with a veteran presence in Carpenter and a young, promising American Spencer Pigot, the 36-year-old Patrick seems like a perfect fit for the final race of her career.

And Patrick still has a wealth of knowledge she can use to her advantage.

All she has to do is play it smart.

“It was much better today. The first couple laps I was flat out,” she said. “I wanted to get yesterday over with so I could get on with the job and feeling comfortable and that’s what started today.”

___

More AP Auto Racing:

http://racing.ap.org/salisburypost/

http://racing.ap.org/salisburypost/schedule/

Comments

Crime

Blotter: More than $100,000 in property reported stolen from Old Beatty Ford Road site

Local

City fights invasive beetles by injecting trees with insecticide

Local

City names downtown recipients for federal Parks Service grant

China Grove

China Grove Town Council weighs 2021-22 budget priorities, supports buying body cameras

Education

Educators reflect on Teacher Appreciation Week

Education

Livingstone College wins $30,000 Home Depot grant

Education

Shoutouts

News

Shield-A-Badge With Prayer program enters 26th year, accepting volunteers to pair with officers

Education

COVID-19 infection, quarantine numbers in Rowan-Salisbury Schools reach new highs

High School

High school football: Offensive line came together for Hornets, who play for state title tonight

Local

Pro baseball: White makes pro debut and says, ‘It felt amazing to be out there’

Education

West Rowan Middle eighth grader wins investment writing contest

Local

YSUP Rowan invites agencies to participate in youth-focused training

Nation/World

US backs waiving intellectual property rules on vaccines

News

As demand drops, Cooper visits vaccine clinic to urge usage

News

NC lawmakers advance bill barring mandatory COVID-19 shots

News

N.C. bill banning Down syndrome abortions nears floor vote

Coronavirus

Rowan County sees 301st death from COVID-19

Coronavirus

N.C. lawmakers advance bill barring mandatory COVID-19 shots

Local

Rowan Public Library joins initiative to help people with digital connectivity

Local

Mocksville to dissolve police department

Crime

Blotter: May 5

Local

Salisbury’s McElroy named top city, county communications professional in state

Local

Locals condemn use of force during 2019 traffic stop of Georgia woman