Danica Patrick impresses Stewart
Tony Stewart will face the pressure of trying to repeat as Geico 400 champion Sept. 16 at Chicagoland Speedway, but he said Thursday he wouldn't want to have to deal with the pressure facing Danica Patrick.
"She's done a great job, and the hard part is if anybody else would be coming up and going through this stage, they would say she's doing above average for how long she's been in a car," Stewart said on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "But so much pressure has been put on her, and the focus is on her so much because of who she is that I wouldn't want to be her.
"I wouldn't want to have to deal with the pressure."
Patrick will drive a full Sprint Cup schedule for the first time next year, and Stewart, who is the defending Sprint Cup champion, has been impressed with her transition from Indy cars.
"I think she's done a great job coming from Indy cars to coming into a totally different car that has a totally different feel," he said. "You have to drive it totally different from Indy cars, so I think she's done a pretty good job of adapting to it so far."
The Geico 400 will be the first race of the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Stewart is in ninth place in the Sprint Cup standings, one point ahead of Denny Hamlin. Stewart is hoping to remain in the top 10 so Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Ryan Newman can secure a wild-card spot. The top 10 drivers and two wild cards advance to the Chase.
"We're in a really good spot this year, versus last year," Stewart said. "We've got three wins already, so if we fell out of the top 10, we would make one of those wild card spots right now. So we're not mathematically locked in yet, we obviously have three races before we can do that.
"It's a good spot for us because we have those races to fall back on, but it's kind of a little pressure on another side. We have a teammate Ryan Newman who's just outside the top 10, and he is in the last wild card spot right now. So if we fell out of the top 10 in points, that would bump him out, because we would take that spot. So we've got to keep pushing hard these next three weeks and have good consistent runs and not keep Ryan from having that opportunity to get in the Chase as well."