Will wine lover Danica Patrick succeed in Wine Country?

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Goddess of NASCAR Danica Patrick is a lover of wine. She, and her ex-husband Paul Hospenthal acquired a very impressive wine cellar with over 1,000 bottles. (More on the Danica Patrick wine collection here) After she divorced Hospenthal so that she could date Ricky Stenhouse Jr., I don’t know what became of the wine collection accrued with her ex-hubby.

Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway is one of the few tracks on the NASCAR schedule where Danica Patrick has a lot of experience. And yes, Sonoma is the heart of California wine country.

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Danica Patrick has made seven starts at Sonoma dating back to 2005. This weekend will be Patrick’s first career Sprint Cup Series start on a road course and she is hoping her efforts produce better results than her three NASCAR Nationwide Series road-course finishes last year..

In June at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin Danica Patrick was fourth on the final lap when she was bumped into the gravel trap by Jacques Villeneueve, which caused her to finish 12th. Two months later, Patrick finished 43rd at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International after Ryan Truex spun in front of her on the start and she could not avoid his spinning car and made heavy contact with his machine.

But the strangest experience of all came one week later when Patrick led 20 laps and was on the point at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal when a fan threw a shoe onto the track and she ran over it on lap 38 of 81. Shortly thereafter, whether the shoe caused the problem or not, Patrick was forced to pit for mechanical repairs and finished 27th.

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Last year, you ran well on the road courses in the Nationwide Series. How confident are you going into Sonoma?

Danica Patrick: “Every step up, you take it to another level of difficulty and, by all means, in the Cup series there are a lot of good road-course drivers. It’s going to be challenging. I don’t think it’s going to be one of those things where I’m going to go qualify in the first two rows and lead the race the whole time, or at least I shouldn’t expect to be able to just do that right away. ”

You competed at Sonoma in an IndyCar. Will that help you at all in a stock car?

Danica Patrick: “Other than being familiar with the garage and pit lane, no (laughs). The cars are obviously so different that nothing will translate. It’s just such a different style of driving. This also is a slightly different course than what we ran in IndyCar, so nothing really translates.”

Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports Bank.net. (“Quasi-endorsed” by Philadelphia Eagles Coach Chip Kelly) He’s also an author who also contributes regularly to MSN, Fox Sports , Chicago Now, Walter Football.com and Yardbarker

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 (@PaulMBanks), like him on Facebook

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