Danica Patrick says she is open to change if it improves her performance in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series.
However, it remained unclear Friday what was the impetus for the swap in crew chiefs and pit-road crews made this week by Stewart-Haas Racing between Patrick’s No. 10 and Kurt Busch’s No. 41 teams.
“If the team wants changes made or has ideas it’s probably in everybody’s best interest to make moves now so that things can start off on the right foot for 2015 instead of starting from scratch and trying to develop an accurate dialogue and relationship on the radio,” Patrick said.
“I think that within the team we are all smart enough to know that if the speed is there and at times it’s going well enough, it will come together. I also am not the one that makes the ultimate decisions.”
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Busch has been inconsistent this season but did win the spring race at Martinsville Speedway and qualified for the Chase, although he was among the first four drivers eliminated from title contention.
Patrick has shown speed on the track and in qualifying this season but is mired in 27th in the series standings with three top-10 finishes.
Greg Zipadelli, director of competition at SHR, said there was a shorter timetable to get Busch’s No. 41 team up to speed. Team co-owner Gene Haas funds the No. 41 through his company, Haas Automation.
“That is a team that we have to get going immediately,” Zipadelli said of the No. 41. “There isn’t a lot of time for growth. We know Kurt is kind of in the prime of his career.
“We know that he can go out and win races at every race track we go to. We have got to give him that, and we have to give Danica the ability to continue to grow and build a relationship with somebody because she plans on being here for a while.”
Tony Gibson has served as Patrick’s crew chief in both of her full-time seasons in Cup and will take over as Busch’s crew chief next weekend at Texas.
Daniel Knost, who has worked with Busch this season, will become Patrick’s crew chief next week on what could be a temporary basis.
“I would like to believe that Daniel will have that position,” Zipadelli said. “I think it is just kind of wait and see, Danica how she works with him and how they get along.”
Knost, who was a race team engineer before becoming a crew chief, may prove to be a more familiar fit for Patrick, who competed in the IndyCar Series before moving to NASCAR.
“I’m used to someone that has an engineering approach to what they do and I don’t think that it has to be that way, but I think that everybody is looking for some magic and a relationship that takes you to the next level,” she said.
“Maybe actually just having something I haven’t really had in NASCAR yet – I’ve had kind of all more crew chief-style crew chiefs, old-school crew chiefs – that maybe it will be something that will work better.
“I don’t know.”