Patrick won the pole for “Great American Race” in February and ran in the lead pack until getting shuffled out of contention with a handful of laps remaining and finishing fifth. Asked if she can parley that experience into a better finish Saturday night, she replied, “Yeah! I don’t get worse as the year goes on. I should have better experience… especially having done Talladega too. It’s definitely possible.”
The Stewart Haas Racing rookie said she expects Saturday night’s race to be similar to the Daytona 500.
“It’s not going to be worlds of difference,” she said. “Maybe a little less single file, just because we have been in the car all year and people don’t feel the need to… start the year off well. You could see people a little bit more prepared to pass and know how to do it a little easier than at the start of the year.”
She also said she has a better idea of how to close the deal if she finds herself in contention with five laps to go Saturday.
“Right after the (500), I said I wish I would have had a plan,” she said. “But when I talked to Tony (Stewart) afterwards, he said I probably had more to lose than I had to gain by trying something at the end. He thought I made the right decision.
“I suppose it is about being at the right place at the right time and having the right people behind you,” said Patrick. “There is luck that plays into it that way, although a lot of times good drivers win, so you still need to know what to do. Probably more than anything, (you need to) have a little bit of experience so you can handle whatever situation comes up.”