Difficulties building for Danica Patrick

August, 24, 2012
Danica PatrickJared C. Tilton/Getty ImagesDanica Patrick's goal this weekend is simple -- finish every lap at Bristol.

BRISTOL, Tenn. -- You know your season isn't going well when you start quoting Austin Powers.

That was the case for Danica Patrick on Friday as she prepared for her first Nationwide-Sprint Cup Series doubleheader at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Patrick has spent much of the past week listening to comments and jokes about running over a shoe while leading Saturday's Nationwide race at Montreal.

She said that has evoked jokes about the Austin Powers movie in which the bad guy hit Powers in the head with a shoe.

"Who throws a shoe, honestly?" Powers said in the movie. "You fight like a woman."

Although Patrick's crew chief, Tony Eury Jr., says the shoe had nothing do with a track bar failure that turned into a 27th-place finish, it summed up the way this season has gone for the former IndyCar Series driver.

Patrick actually was asked whether she noticed what kind of shoe it was during Friday's media availability.

"It was dark with a light-colored sole," Patrick said with a straight face. "It looked really funny on the video. It looked like it disappeared. That sucked."

This season hasn't been too good for Patrick, either. She is 11th in the Nationwide standings with three finishes of 27th or worse in her past four starts. Criticism has gotten to the point that Tony Stewart, her team owner in the Sprint Cup Series, is on a "lay off her" campaign.

"I can't remember having this much bad luck in forever," Patrick said. "I don't ever remember feeling like I just can't seem to catch a break for so long and in such big ways, sometimes."

Things likely won't get any easier at Bristol as Patrick makes her Cup debut at the "World's Fastest Half-Mile Track." She finished 19th, two laps down, in the spring Nationwide race and 33rd, 50 laps down after a crash, in last year's spring Nationwide race.

Her goal?

"Finishing all the laps is the most important thing to me," Patrick said.

And avoiding more Austin Powers jokes.

David Newton | email

ESPN Staff Writer



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