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A Conversation With ... Danica Patrick

MODERATOR: We are joined by Danica Patrick.

Danica, this is your seventh Indianapolis 500. Seems like yesterday was your first day here.

DANICA PATRICK: Yeah, just a wee girl racing at Indy. Now I'm old. Seventh Indy, turning 29, those kinds of things. It seems like it was not that long ago that it was my first time here. I feel like I've always been some kind of an inexperienced driver at some level. I don't think I'm going to get away with this anymore after this being the seventh one.

That's a good thing. If I could go back in time with the experience I have now, I would. So having the experience is a good thing. Hopefully it pays off race day.

MODERATOR: Is there one moment that stands out or one race that stands out of the six that you've been part of so far?

PATRICK: Really?

MODERATOR: I need you to say. We need it on tape for the record. I'm not a mind reader (laughter).

PATRICK: Yeah, the first Indy was definitely the one I remember. It's my favorite race I've ever done. It's the most memorable race I've ever done, for sure. Even more than when I won. I just remember everything about it. I just remember how the month went. I remember being fastest for the first time on Thursday or something. I remember making the decision on track. I remember what I said on the radio, ‘Should I pick up tow or something?’ They're like, ‘Yeah, why not?’ I just remember how it all went. I just remember so much.

Then there are years here, I guess maybe selective memory, us women have selective hearing, I guess we all have selective hearing, but that's probably definitely exercising some selective memory. I just remember everything about it. It was a great day, a life-changing day.

MODERATOR: We'll open it up for questions.

Q: Is there any chance this is your last 500 or do you expect to be back?

PATRICK: I suppose anything is possible. But I know for me I haven't made any of those decisions yet. This is a special event in and of itself. Indy is my favorite race in the world every everything.

So like I just said, I love everything about this place. I love the tradition. I love the race itself. So many times you can come away from this event, after 500 miles, and think of how your strategy could have put you in Victory Circle. I think that's why people love this place and so many people come back. So many people have that story as to how they could have maybe won the Indy 500, which is for me the ultimate goal. I would imagine for a lot of people it's the ultimate goal. It's definitely high up on the list.

But I just love this event. So I don't know where the future is going to take me, but I know those things.

Q: You've been thinking about this race since you were a little kid. Do you allow yourself to get more sentimental this time around?

PATRICK: I really am approaching this like any other year. Actually, I feel like I get more nervous every year. I'm more nervous coming into it this year than last year. Maybe it's because you're getting older and on some level you think you have less of them to do, I don't know.

I also think after this many years, being here, it starts to really sink in what this event is all about. Like I said, you have the chances where you could have won. You're thinking, How am I going to make that happen this year?

You know, I have high expectations. Like I said, I'm more nervous than ever. I don't know. Being nervous isn't always the worst thing for me, so hopefully it works.

Q: Any feel on how competitive your car will be?

PATRICK: I really feel so far, so good. I really haven't gotten a tow or anything like that, so I feel really comfortable right now with the car, with the speed, with where we are on downforce. We've been moving very slowly, methodically because the first time out we felt really good about it. So we have the ability to not panic and rush, make all of our changes on pit lane. We can go back to the garage, take our time. We don't have to be throwing everything at it to see what we can do to make it go faster, although we are going to be doing things to try to make it go faster.

Did plan on doing more and more of that as the week has gone on. Unfortunately, the week has gone on and we haven't run. I feel comfortable with it right now. Anything can happen. Anything can change. Sometimes you stall out at certain speeds. Sometimes you keep trimming and it doesn't really make it much faster, it just makes it more difficult.

We'll see how it goes. At this point in time I feel pretty comfortable.

Q: Simona told me you talked a fair bit. Have you talked much, given advice?

PATRICK: I would say our conversations are more casual really. We don't talk a lot about racing really. We might talk about the race, have discussion about that, catch up about that when we're in group gatherings, group things we have to do.

But, no, I think she does a good job. I think she's got good people on her side, people that help her. If she asked, I'd answer. We really kind of talk about the race, whatever else, maybe just simple things.

Q: Are you at all impressed with her start in IndyCar? Do you feel any sense of rivalry?

PATRICK: I think she's done a great job. She's very good on the road courses. I think she's shown that from the very beginning from last year even when she started.

As far as rivalry goes, I have a rivalry with every driver (laughter).

Q: Talk just a moment about what you need to apply to be ready for qualification Saturday, given the short practice.

PATRICK: You have to stay confident here. I think that's a really important thing. I think you have to feel comfortable with your car. You have to go into turn one, every lap, with confidence. You have to be sure of yourself and your equipment.

Like I was telling someone the other day, I don't make a decision if I'm pitting until I get out of two, because you have to commit to one and two.

I just think we have to work smart. Sometimes that means not going back on changes, maybe just leaving the car where it's at. I think drivers, engineers are inclined to make changes, make it go faster. Sometimes you can tune yourself out. I think it's about being honest with every change we do, make sure it's the right direction so we make sure we don't start down a bad path.

I have a feeling we're not going to have as much time to sort of do everything as slowly and methodically as we wanted to in the very beginning because there's only two days left.

Hopefully our changes are efficient and they're good and they do what you expect them to do. Hopefully every degree is a point six miles an hour you think it's going to be and you keep moving forward.

Time will tell. This is a very unique place. It's its own person, this track. You can go out there from one run to the next. You can go out there, come back to the garage, go back out with the same car, it feels totally different. You have to keep your head on straight and stay confident.

Q: You talked about the feelings your first time here at the Speedway. Do you find yourself trying to replicate that? And can you?

PATRICK: Kind of (laughter). I suppose that's superstitious, isn't it? Gosh, I think I really did in the very beginning. But I felt like after a couple of years that evolves, everything changes. You have to adapt, move on, take what comes at you.

I guess the one thing whe

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