Anne Proffit photo
Danica Patrick returned to the scene of some of her best races on Tuesday and took laps around the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway racetrack.
The big difference between her most recent time here in 2011 and today was that she was in a No. 7 GoDaddy.com NASCAR Nationwide Serires Chevrolet, not an IZOD IndyCar Series single-seater--which allowed Patrick to take a passenger along for the ride.
Not just any passenger, but iconic television personality Katie Couric took over the passenger's seat in this two-seater version of the GoDaddy.com/NASCAR Unites "An American Salute" Chevrolet, similar to the car Patrick will drive for the Indiana 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series race on Saturday, July 28, which is part of the Kroger Super Weekend at the Brickyard.
"It feels really good to be back at the track," Patrick said. "I enjoyed the laps that I made out there. I really, really enjoyed coming out of Turn 4 and coming down the front straightaway and seeing everything again."
In her IZOD IndyCar Series career, Patrick has six top-10 results at The Brickyard, including 2011's tenth-place finish in The Greatest Spectacle in Racing. In 2005, she earned Chase Rookie of the Year honors and became a worldwide attention-getter, even making Sports Illustrated's cover the following week after her fourth-place finish, when she became the first woman to lead laps at Indy.
She's excited to be back in a stock car but the feel of the two cars is totally different. "I'm going to be a few inches--or feet--higher up in the seat from a visual perspective in a stock car, but nothing is going to feel better than to get back out there again," Patrick admitted. "I felt right into place," as she drove the flat oval. "I feel so comfortable here and I have such a great emotion just coming into the track that I feel like that helps me overall to be better, because I feel so good and I feel so positive," she said.
"It's good to be back here. I didn't think my first laps in a stock car around here would be a school stock car, but I thought it was a good lead-in to a couple of weeks from now when we're actually here for the real deal."
The day, though, was all about having fun as Patrick and Couric met and instantly developed camaraderie. Couric said she was "very, very, very, very quiet," in her reaction to the speed and road of a stock car from the passenger's seat. "I was nervous at first, but I had a lot of fun.
"I'm a huge fan of Danica's and have watched her career for many years now, and it was fun for me to get to spend some time with her and learn a little more about what makes her tick and about some of the choices she's made and things she's done in her life. I'm very impressed," Couric said.