The last 10 Cup races that Patrick, who currently lives in the Phoenix area, will compete in will be the AdvoCare 500 on Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway. She will also drive at the one-mile track for this Saturdays nationwide race.
Despite being a media darling, Patricks race results in both series have been less than impressive. However, Patrick has repeatedly stated that this season was less about results and more about learning the tracks where NASCAR races, as well as getting practice in driving stock cars. For example, Sunday's race will be the first time Patrick will have raced a Cup car at the Phoenix International; she stated that "it will be a good learning experience. After her mediocre qualifying run, Patrick will start the race 37th in the 43-car field this Friday.
This year, in her previous nine Cup races, Patrick's average finish has been 29th. She has yet to finish in the top 20 in any race, in a No. 10 Chevrolet car prepared by Stewart-Haas Racing. Patricks best race was last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway, where she finished on the same lap as the leaders and 24th overall.
Out of 31 races in the Nationwide Series, where Patrick drives the No. 7 Chevy for the JR Motorsports team, she has an average placing of 19th. Still, Patrick has had three top-10 finishes in these races. In Nationwide practice Friday afternoon, Patrick had the seventh-fastest speed, clocking in at an impressive 131.955 mph.
Patrick has been paired with Tony Gibson, a new crew chief, for her last two Cup races. Racing car insiders are expecting the two to remain together when Patrick becomes a full-time Cup driver in 2013. Gibson noted that Patricks result from her last race in Texas this past Sunday was impressive:
[S]he ran with guys that she's never run with before: Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman and Denny Hamlin. To come here and run on the lead lap and a shot at a top-20 was pretty impressive."
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