Danica Patrick admits that there is additional pressure on her to perform in the NASCAR Sprint Cup this year following a difficult rookie season in 2013.
Patrick started from pole in last year’s Daytona 500 and went on to finish eighth, but failed to make the top 10 for the rest of the year. She finished the season 27th in the standings for the Stewart-Haas team.
“I want to know what to do to be better,” she said. “And I do think that the pressure builds more and more each year because there’s less and less excuses.
“I’m always pushing hard. I mean, I can’t push harder. But you can find new ways and areas to do it. I’m all for that.”
Patrick believes that better consistency across the Stewart-Haas cars used by herself and teammates Tony Stewart, Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick will help her cause, but also pinpointed areas of her own performance that need to be improved, particularly in qualifying.
“I think that the core focus is really preparing better cars and bringing as good a car to the track as possible,” she said. “That comes through using our resources, being able to build them more similar to each other as they come out of production so we can keep up with the cars and we’re all driving the same thing.
“As a driver, I need to work on still a lot of the same stuff that I was working on from the beginning of last year. The weak areas tend to be the ones that I always have to work on. Improving on qualifying, which I think that we did through the end of the year.
“We were all doing everything we could earlier in the year to throw different things at [the car] to see if it was better. But working more methodically at the end of the year seemed to help. Between that, and just getting more more comfortable in those first laps qualifying, at the first start of the race, restarts, all those things, they all kind of go hand in hand, and those are the areas that I have to work on.”