72
      Sunday
      85 / 72
      Monday
      85 / 73
      Tuesday
      85 / 74

      Danica comes to Darlington

      Danica Patrick made her debut at historic Darlington Raceway as the former Indy Car driver begins to make the transition to full time stock car racing by trying to get on the job training at one of the most challenging race tracks in NASCAR. When Patrick announced she was leaving Indy Car to concentrate full time on NASCAR, owner Tony Stewart set a specific part time 2012 Cup schedule to give Patrick the most challenging tests on the track to help her get ready for a full time schedule in 2013.

      After a 38th place finish at the Daytona 500, Patrick gets set for her second Cup start on Saturday at the Bojangles Southern 500 and Darlington may be her toughest learning curve.

      "There's a heck of a lot of big name drivers here and quite honestly it's my honor to finally be here at a place like Darlington with so much history and tradition," Patrick said in front of her hauler following practice in Nationwide and Cup. "I just want to finish which is going to be a challenge I think."

      Racing at the unique egg shaped oval leads to narrow space while going at high speeds. Drivers spend much of their lap around the track close to the wall which leads to the old track biting a driver and giving a famed Darlington stripe. It didn't take long for Patrick to pick up four Darlington stripes.

      Right side damage isn't reserved for just rookies as proven by Jimmie Johnson's #48 and this picture from his Twitter account: Jimmie Johnson Twitter Pic: Darlington Stipe

      "There's a heck of a lot of big name drivers here and quite honestly it's my honor to finally be here at a place like Darlington with so much history and tradition," Patrick said in front of her hauler following practice in Nationwide and Cup. "I just want to finish which is going to be a challenge I think."

      Patrick was 47th out of 47 cars in the morning Cup practice, but improved to 24th fastest in the final Cup practice. Danica posted a solid qualifying lap for Friday night's Nationwide Race where she will start 15th. Patrick was the first car out in qualifying for the Southern 500 and posted the 38th fastest lap at 175.497 miles per hour.

      "I can only imagine that once I finally get a good grip on it, I'm going to be much more confident out there and maybe the Lady in Black and I can become friends one day," Patrick said.

      Danica is the third woman to compete at the Cup level at Darlington joining Janet Guthrie (1977) and Shawna Robinson (2001). Guthrie finished in 16th place, while Robinson finished 42nd.

      Another name from motorsports that is trying to make headlines in NASCAR is Travis Pastrana who owns over 10 X-games gold medals in Motorcross and four Rally Car championships. Pastrana is racing in Friday night's Nationwide Race and the man who regularly does flips in mid-air on a motorcycle called his first trip around Darlington as scary.

      "Never before have I been that scared that far along, Pastrana said. "It's definitely faster than it looks on TV."