Danica Patrick said she feels the pressure to improve on her NASCAR rookie season of 2013, where a promise of a top 10 Daytona 500 finished turned into disappointment.
Patrick, who challenged the male-dominated NASCAR circuit in 2013, told Autoweek for a story Thursday
, that she plans on being more competitive this year.
"We're going to be better because I have more experience, because we have more experiences as a team, because we have more resources and more people, because we have a new energy, because we're going to use our resources better as a team," Patrick told Autoweek. "Those are all the reasons we’re going to do better."
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Patrick must also fight the perception that she is allowed to hang around NASCAR for marketing purposes only, as pointedly stated by Jeff Owens of the Sporting News on Monday
, calling her rookie season a "colossal failure."
Owens said even though Patrick had a top 10 finish in the Daytona 500, which is NASCAR's "Super Bowl," and a 12th place finish at Martinsville, she only led 11 laps in all of her other races in 2013.
"Patrick was so bad . . . that many fans believe that she can't drive stock cars and doesn’t deserve her ride at Stewart-Haas Racing," Owens wrote for the Sporting News. "With a big sponsor and an elite team, she has all the resources to succeed at NASCAR's top level. But she must consistently finish in the top 20 and produce more top-10 finishes this season to take a major step forward. She must prove that she can be more than a marketing machine and a Las Vegas show girl."
Owens' last jab came from Patrick dressing up as a showgirl during her duties as co-host for the American Country Music Awards in December.
Patrick told Autoweek, for her part, she plans to get better as a driver and making the right adjustments on the track during practice and in competition.
"I still need to work on a lot of the same stuff I was working on from the beginning of last year," she told Autoweek. "These are big cars with a lot going on and one thing leads to the next. To get everything just right and get all the travels and everything just right and the bump stops…. getting that right was worth just as much almost as putting on a better setup."
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