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Patrick pleased with Thunder speed

January 12, 2013, Holly Cain,

Danica's Daytona showing 'better than expected'

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Judging by her effort during this week’s NASCAR Preseason Thunder test sessions at Daytona International Speedway, Danica Patrick looks up to speed as she embarks on her first fulltime NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.

Patrick was consistent and consistently fast throughout the three-day test with NASCAR’s new Generation-6 race cars. For much of Thursday and Saturday mornings, she topped the speed chart only to have a couple drivers better her in the waning minutes of the session.

By the time Patrick and the rest of her Stewart-Haas Racing team packed up Saturday mid-afternoon, she was satisfied with her initial runs in the new No. 10 Chevrolet SS, and team owner Tony Stewart declared the experience “productive.”

“It has gone better than I expected,” Patrick said before an abbreviated final Saturday afternoon session. “I had hoped the car was good, but when you unload and get the car going for the first time on the track, you never know exactly what you’re going to get.

“So it shows how good of a job Tony Gibson and the guys have done in building this car and working hard on it and getting it ready, last second. I know there were a lot of parts that came in last second before we got down here. They’ve obviously adapted very quickly and made a nice car and it makes testing fun.’’

Patrick had top-nine runs in all but one of the six practices, and that was because she didn’t participate in the drafting practice Friday. In retrospect, that was a good decision considering a 12-car accident ended the weekend early for 10 of those teams involved.

She was even better in the 10-lap average category with top-five speeds two of the three days.

“It’s nice, but it’s also Daytona and I feel like the credit should be given to the team for the speed that’s in the car, not necessarily me turning left and keeping my foot down,’’ Patrick said. “I think more than anything it’s good for morale, that’s really what it’s doing.

“It gives the guys confidence going into the year and it gives me confidence in them. Shoot, if you can start out front in the Daytona 500 and stay up front and stay out of trouble, that’s the best place to be.”