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Patrick view in check despite fast practice Saturday at Daytona

Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013

Danica Patrick had one of the fastest cars during last month’s testing session at Daytona International Speedway.

So far, nothing has changed.

Patrick posted the fastest speed during Saturday’s second Sprint Cup Series practice (196.220mph) after Joey Logano led the way during the first session (195.410 mph).

Saturday’s practices primarily were single-car runs in anticipation of Sunday’s qualifying session, which will lock in the front row for the Feb. 24 Daytona 500.

Patrick does have some experience at Daytona. She won the pole last year for the Nationwide Series opener on the 2.5-mile superspeedway.

“I suppose being the fastest going into qualifying is the most you can hope for, but I also understand it’s a whole (new) day,” Patrick said.

“We could not have as much speed. We could be in an unfortunate situation with wind, weather, temperature, clouds. We’ve done everything we can to prepare and feel confident, but (Sunday) is another day.”

In fact, the forecast for time trials is expected to be much colder, which could alter the qualifying results dramatically.

Patrick’s team owner, Tony Stewart, was second-fastest during the final practice. Kyle Busch was third, Dale Earnhardt Jr. fourth and Jamie McMurray fifth.

Patrick said she was very cognizant a fast car at Daytona has more to do with her team’s preparation and work.

“It is a team effort. I understand that the driver can make tiny little differences out there, be smooth, and nail your shifts and being smooth with the wheel. The pole at Daytona is very much a team pole,” she said.

Daytona winner gets ride: John King Jr., who was the surprise winner of the season-opening NASCAR Truck series race last season, has a ride for this year’s race.

King will drive the No. 33 Chevrolet for Eddie Sharp Racing in the Feb. 22 race. That team also won the 2012 series finale at Homestead, Fla., with driver Cale Gale.

Utter: 704-358-5113; Twitter: @jim_utter
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