Q & A with Danica Patrick

Q: Are you surprised by the reaction since the Indy 500?

Danica Patrick: "To a certain extent a little bit surprised. I think I am more surprised about the young kids and everything like that. The things that we have done have been good things, especially for a rookie. I have gone for pole. In two of the races we almost had pole, I qualified third last time out, and we've led a couple of races. Considering all that and considering the increase in ratings for the race, and everything that has happened, it is fairly justifiable. It is the story that everyone is playing. So it has grown just because it has fed off other things and has grown a lot, but I guess I am little surprised."

Q: What is your future?

Patrick: "I have to say that I am very happy where I am. I am happy driving in IRL right now. I think it's a great Championship with an incredible amount of talent in it, and I love the States. I love being around my family and friends. I would never say no to anything. I would never say no to F1; I would never say no to NASCAR. I just wouldn't do that to myself because you have to be open to all opportunities. But everything would be weighed up, but right now I am happy where I am."

Q: Would you only do the switch with a specific F1 team?

Patrick: "It would have to be a certain team. You would have to know you are running for a top team, just like I am running for a top team in IRL. I am only happy when things are going well, and I have to look after my own happiness!"

Q: You went to Europe when you were young. You did not do that to go racing in IRL?

Patrick: "No, that is very true. When I went to England to race and the three years I was there I was dead set on racing in F1. I followed it; I knew everything about it. I was out of touch with Indy cars, but as time wore on I knew that there were different ways to be happy and to be successful and to get to where you wanted to be. I have to say that I am glad I am here. I love being here. I have so much fun. It's home."

Q: When you were racing go-karts you said you wanted to win the Indy 500?

Patrick: "We almost had it. It was a close race. We were playing with fuel strategy a little bit. We almost had it. It was a very good month for myself, for the team, for the sponsors, for the series. So many things were elevated and so many more people were watching. A lot of stir was made, and that was beneficial for everybody."

Q: What did you think about racing when you were a kid?

Patrick: "You know, I played with Barbies a lot, and when I started racing at 10 years old I didn't watch a lot of racing. I remember I was watching the Indy 500 every year on TV. But I was a very normal kid. I did a lot of sports when I was younger. I did cheerleading, volleyball, basketball, band, choir, you name it, I tried it. It wasn't until a year or two into my career that I really started understanding and knowing the fact that there was racing outside of my little go-kart track near my house, and so I followed more. I watched more Indy car racing. I don't think I was able to get up (early enough) or stay up (late enough) to watch F1 when I was a little kid."

Q: Do you have a schedule?

Patrick: "I have no schedule. Like I said, I am very pleased where I am. Opportunities will arise when they do, and I will deal with them when they come. I really cannot say that there is a timeline on anything. When you are successful, things take care of themselves. People want you, and then you are able to make the decision that makes you the happiest."

Q: What about the efforts of other women drivers in the Indy 500?

Patrick: "I think that initially, with the first (women) drivers that came along, times were tough and the men and everybody involved did not embrace them quite as much as they do now. I have to say that this Indianapolis there was not a single day when there were not people waiting for my autograph outside the garage or screaming my name, buying my T-shirts. It was overwhelming how many people jumped on and got excited and followed me the whole month, and still are, and so I think the difference has been the fans and the people participating and their view on females in racing."

Q: Did you speak to Janet Guthrie or Lyn St. James?

Patrick: "I saw Lyn St. James right before the race actually, and I talked to her for a minute or two. I received good wishes from Sarah (Fisher) through someone, and that is good. I would do the same thing, too. I don't care who I am racing against as long as it is good competition and I know that everything is fair, then that is all that my concern is."

Q: What does Ferrari mean to you?

Patrick: "It is a car that I cannot buy right now! No, I probably could. It is one of those teams that you look at and think seriously about what you do with your life if they called. They are a very competitive team, a top team, and it is one of the teams you would not doubt try their hardest. You cannot get them to call you; you cannot pay them to call you. It only happens off of merit, and so I think it's a huge compliment, as well."

Q: Has anyone called you?

Patrick: "Has anyone? Not me. No. Not directly, I don't think anyone has called actually. I have to say I don't know."

Q: Which was the tougher race: the 500 or Texas last weekend?

Patrick: "Texas. You know, when your car is not great and things are not going your way exactly, the racing is harder, the car is harder to drive, you are mentally draining out and everything else. It's easy to drive a good car, it really is. At Indianapolis, I had a great car, and we worked hard all month to get a great car. Texas was OK. We still qualified in the front but the race car was not great in the race. We race two-abreast, three-abreast, at Texas. It is very much side-by-side racing all the way around. My car was oversteering on the top when I was going around the top of people. And underneath on the bottom with the pack of traffic I had understeer, so it was not happy anywhere. So once I finally figured it out, which takes time because I am new, and that was really only the second side-by-side racing I have done in my life, so considering I was a rookie I think that just figuring it out in general and staying on the lead lap and racing hard is all you can really ask in a situation like that. I came away from it with experience, and that is the important thing, and that is what I am going for all year. More experience, more experience, learn as much as you can, finish every lap."

Q: The F1 world is looking at your road racing ability. How do you think you will do?

Patrick: "We had our St. Petersburg race, and that was OK. We again played the fuel strategy a bit and we were running up the front and Buddy Rice, my teammate, was behind me when we were doing that, and we made a mistake and went back out, but there was a problem with the pit limiter and then the gears went out so we had to change a gear stack. He finished fifth or sixth or something like that. We would have finished in the top five or six, I am sure. But that did not happen, and you learn. And again I finished all but five laps because that is what it took to change the gears.

"We will see how it goes at Sears Points and Watkins Glen. They are definitely going to be much higher grip, much faster tracks, much more demanding for the drivers physically. So we will see how it goes. I wouldn't say we have had the strongest cars on the road courses. The road course and short ovals have been something we have been a little bit off the pace on in comparison to some of the other teams. So we will just have to work even harder."

Q: What other F1 teams would make you think twice?

Patrick: "I think that when you get called by anyone in F1 you think twice because obviously it is F1. It is regarded as the highest level of racing with the best drivers in the world. I would definitely say I am racing against some pretty darned good drivers in IndyCar and people that came from England and Europe and places like that. But you would think twice for anyone!"

Q: What is your opinion about Michael Schumacher?

Patrick: "Obviously he is a fantastic driver with an incredible amount of talent. I have never met him. He is going to go down in the history books as, for some, the most talented driver ever, and for others one of them."

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