In Danica Patrick’s last nine races at Talladega Superspeedway, her best finish was a 19th-place effort back in October 2013, but she has a new plan for this Sunday’s race that could improve results and it doesn’t involve working with her teammates.
“I think that if you plan too much that you tend to have misunderstandings and mistakes, and you’re also just aren’t following the natural flow of things,” Patrick said during an appearance on NASCAR America earlier this week, according to NBC Sports. “I think there are times when you can be smart about who you’re getting in line with, but I think most of the time you have to go with the momentum. You have to go with the opening. You have to do what you can do.”
Patrick also said when Stewart-Haas Racing had Chevy stock cars, they would make plans before the Talladega races to work with Team Hendrick, but those plans typically never came to fruition once the green flag finally waved.
“I think you have to be selfish,” she said. “You know who shows that the best? Dale (Earnhardt) Jr.”
Dale Jr. has the record for the most consecutive wins at Talladega with four. He managed to accomplish that task from 2001 to 2003 and has added two more victories since to bring his career Talladega win total up to six.
One of Dale Jr.’s former crew chief’s, Steve Letarte, said during the same broadcast Earnhardt learned a lot about Talladega racing from former teammate Jeff Gordon.
“I worked with two of the most selfish,” Letarte said. “Jeff Gordon used to enter the team meeting and the conversation was, ‘Hey, I’m going to apologize now because you’re all going to hate me when this race is over.’ And Dale Jr. kind of picked up on that and said, ‘No offense, let’s not even pretend we’re going to help each other, because I’m not sure how we can.’”
Sunday’s race will be Dale Jr.’s final start at Talladega and could also be Patrick’s as well if she doesn’t find a ride for next year. It’s was previously announced that Patrick will not be returning to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2018.