Danica Patrick looks to change fortune in Vega$

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The first two weeks of racing were a roller coaster for Danica Patrick One week after starting on the pole and leading five laps en route to a record-setting eighth-place finish in the 55th Daytona 500, Danica Patrick and Tony Gibson became “the bug” after a massive accident at Phoenix sent them to a disappointing 39th-place finish.

Danica Patrick was in the top-25 on lap 184 at Phoenix when she exited turn four of the mile oval and the right-front tire of her car suddenly lost all air pressure. Her machine headed straight for the SAFER Barrier on the outside of turn four, and the right front of her GoDaddy.com Chevrolet SS took the brunt of the impact. The car then bounced off the wall and was hit in the driver’s side by the oncoming car of David Ragan, who had nowhere to go.

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The two collisions destroyed Patrick’s car, but the driver was checked and released without injury from the infield care center. The accident caused Patrick to fall from seventh to 22nd in the point standings.

Danica Patrick will look to change her luck in this week’s Kobalt Tools 400 Sprint Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and everyone knows luck is an important part of any trip to Vegas. So, perhaps it’s ironic that Danica Patrick will make her 13th career Sprint Cup Series start this weekend.

If the number isn’t traditionally lucky, at least Patrick’s stock car luck at the 1.5-mile oval traditionally has been good. In three NASCAR Nationwide Series starts at Las Vegas, Patrick has two top-12 finishes, including a record-setting fourth-place result in 2011.

That marked the best finish by a woman in a NASCAR national stock-car series, topping a fifth-place run by Sarah Christian in a Sprint Cup race in 1949 at Heidelberg (Pa.) Raceway.

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DANICA PATRICK, Driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:

What are your thoughts coming out of Phoenix and looking toward Las Vegas?

“Obviously, Phoenix was tough all around. It was a bad finish, we took a hit in the points, and our car was destroyed. You always hate to destroy a car, but especially with the new ones, it really hurts the team because everyone is trying to build new cars as quickly as possible. So I really feel bad for all the guys because it’s just more work for them. So, hopefully we’ll have a better outing at Las Vegas with the GoDaddy.com Chevrolet SS. We’ve had good results in the Nationwide Series, and I think the test day on Thursday will be beneficial. Any track time at a place we race is helpful for me as the learning process continues. It gives us a chance to learn more about the car and helps Tony Gibson and I build a notebook. The more track time, the better.”

Is it more important to have a good finish on Sunday, or learn as much as you can on Friday, Saturday and Sunday?

“I feel like they both lead to good things. If you learn and grow, you are going to finish better. That learning curve is different for everyone, which is why it is difficult to say where I should be at a certain point in time because you just don’t know at what point in time for an athlete or driver something is going to click and make sense, and you figure something out, and get more comfortable. I guess I would say the most important thing overall, if you look at the big picture, is to learn and grow. Good races and good finishes can just happen, and sometimes you don’t know why. Sometimes it’s because of other people’s misfortunes, your luck – which is a big part of the sport. But learning is something that is going to pay off over time far more than being lucky one weekend.”

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, a Google News site generating millions of visitors. He also contributes regularly to MSN, Fox Sports , Chicago Now, Walter Football.com and Yardbarker

A Fulbright scholar, author and MBA, Banks has appeared on the History Channel, as well as Clear Channel, ESPN and CBS radio all over the world. President Barack Obama follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB)

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