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Danica uses engine trouble as lesson

February 23, 2013, Holly Cain, NASCAR.com

Danica uses engine trouble as lesson
Driver looks to Daytona 500 for redemption

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- While watching her Turner Scott Motorsports team work on her hobbled Chevrolet in the Daytona International Speedway garage a quarter of the way through Saturday’s Nationwide Series season-opener, Danica Patrick had a sick feeling.

“I spent the last 10 minutes thinking all I needed to do was switch ignitions to be OK, but they’re saying it was something deeper,’’ Patrick told the group of reporters watching nearby. “I felt like that was one of the first times I had a car in the garage that might not have needed to be there. I was pissed. I was mad. I thought all I needed to do was switch to ignition switch B, but they said it had more to do with whole ignition system.’’

While a DNF certainly isn’t the outcome Sunday’s Daytona 500 pole-sitter had hoped for, Patrick felt more encouraged than dismayed and said she learned a valuable lesson.

“I’ve never blown (an engine) before and it sure seemed like that’s exactly how that would go, so I hastily came down into the garage instead of going down pit lane,’’ Patrick explained of thinking initially it was an engine problem. “I’m not sure it would have made a different in the end, but it’s a good lesson.”

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Despite finishing only 32 laps of the race, Patrick proved herself worthy of mixing it up with the leaders. Her No. 34 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet led five laps and seemed to maneuver at will.

After being asked by her Sprint Cup Series team to play it safe in Thursday’s Budweiser Duel qualifying race to preserve her pole-winning car, Patrick said it was liberating to go out and get after it. Most importantly, she hopes her effort Saturday earned her some drafting friends for Sunday.

“I was given some really fun advice before the race and it was to go do whatever you want to win this race and that’s fun to hear as a driver,’’ Patrick said. “I was working with a lot of guys out there, staying toward the front. It would have been another good day for GoDaddy.

“There was definitely a sense that I could go where I wanted, do what I wanted out there and if I wanted to make it three-wide, it was encouraged and fine and that’s not where I’ve been at all so far this year.

“It makes this even worse when you’re out there running like I was and how fast the car was, how easy it was to work around in the front ... More than anything I feel like it was a good showing to the guys I’m going to be with tomorrow that I can be up front and I can work with traffic."

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