Danica discusses improving on track, in golf

March 05, 2014, Staff report,

Patrick says her cars have more speed, she's better on the links, too

During a Google+ Hangout on Wednesday from Las Vegas, Danica Patrick described the first two races of her sophomore NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Series career as "a really great and a really awful start to the year." But she did something on a golf course in Phoenix that her boyfriend and last year's Sunoco Rookie of the Year, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., has never done.

Patrick and Patrick Staropoli, a medical student at the University of Miami who won the inaugural PEAK Stock Car Dream Challenge, took part in the chat, hosted by's Holly Cain. Patrick returns to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway where she earned her best NASCAR national series finish with a fourth in the 2011 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at the track.

Watch the full chat here.

Recounting her season to date, Patrick recounted the wrecks that ended her races early.

"I felt like we were in a position to do really well," Patrick said of her Daytona 500. "Got caught up in an accident and that ended that." 

"In Phoenix, (we were) running around 15th in practice and top-10 lap times in the race. Then to have some people spin in front of me, similar to the weekend before at Daytona, not having really anywhere to go and get hit."

Patrick noted that while "it's been a little bit of a rough start to the season as far as results go," she said her "cars have a lot more speed" this season.

"I feel like if we can improve that much from Phoenix where we were to where we are now, if we're that much (better) everywhere, those tracks where we had good races and where I was more competitive, I feel like are going to be really great events for me to have a really great finish," Patrick said.

When asked whether she races any differently this season with NASCAR's new "win-and-you're-in" Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup format, Patrick said NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing is so competitive that "I don't think you can really try any harder to be faster. The team is always putting that kind of effort in to go faster."

"When you're out there on the track, I'm not thinking about making the Chase with this win. I'm thinking 'Go forward. Win the race. Oh yeah, you've made the Chase now.' It's something that happens as a result. As a driver, you're always trying as hard as you can to get to Victory Lane."

Patrick was asked if she does anything while traveling from race to race, and she responded,"Ricky plays golf, which means I play golf, so we play a lot more golf now."

Not only improving on the track, her performance on the links in Phoenix proved she’s getting better there, too.

"I almost had a hole in one," Patrick said. "How amazing is that? It was like under a foot. It was amazing. I took a picture. (Ricky) said that he's never been that close to a hole in one so already I'm ahead of the game, and I've only been playing for about a year, a little over a year. So that's going pretty good."

You can check out her picture and see how close she came to the hole below.