CHARLOTTE, N.C. — According to Danica Patrick, it’s the perfect fit.
Patrick and officials from Bristol Motor Speedway unveiled a special green No. 7 Chevrolet she will drive in the Bristol 300 Nationwide Series race on St. Patrick’s Day.
“I love the green,” Patrick said Saturday at Whisky River in Charlotte. “The car is green, my last name is Patrick, it’s the perfect fit.”
Jerry Caldwell, BMS Executive Vice President and General Manager, said it will be a part of one of the country’s largest holiday celebrations.
“We’re going to host the country’s largest St. Patrick’s Day party,” he said. “What a better way to celebrate than in Bristol, Tennessee with 100,000 of your closest friends. It’s going to be a great time.”
It will be Patrick’s first ever Sprint Cup race at BMS, but her second start overall. She started 29th and finished 33rd in last March’s Nationwide Series race.
While the former Indy Car winner previously heard horror stories about BMS, it turned out to be a place she really enjoyed.
“I really had fun at Bristol,” she said. “When I pulled up to the track, I was astonished with the banking and how small the track was.
“I took a walk in and you can barely walk on it where it’s so steep. It’s a different visual than any other track we race at.”
As part of the St. Patrick’s Day theme, Caldwell promised to dye Beaver Creek, which runs through the BMS property, green. There will be green beer and other green-colored events over the weekend. George Wendt, who played Norm on the television show Cheers, will host the St. Patrick’s Day festivities.
“We have a lot of great things planned with the 20th anniversary of the Food City 500,” Caldwell said. “We have a special ticket package which includes a Q&A with Danica for $67.”
Patrick, who met with fans in Charlotte earlier in the day, said fans were excited for the start of the 2012 season.
“The fans thanked me for coming over (to NASCAR),” she said. “They didn’t have to thank me. I wanted to do this.”
She promised to have a new attitude for this season, after posting a best finish of fourth in 12 Nationwide Series races last season.
At Bristol last season, her day ended with a crash after contact with Ryan Truex’s car. She promised to be more aggressive and more positive this year.
“I’m going into the season with a little more of I’m going to do it attitude,” she said. “I’m mentally wrapping my head around not only learning, but being successful and running well.”
For the most part, she said the langauge used in stock car racing has been easy to adapt to. While it was different than Indy Cars, it was many of the same terms she used in go-kart racing.
However, there is still some trepidation heading to Bristol, and the unique challenges the “World’s Fastest Half-Mile” presents.
“It’s the same challenge for a lot of tracks, but the key is getting the car to turn in the middle of the corner,” she said. “At Bristol, you know you’re going to have to deal with a tight and loose race car at some point.
“They are quick laps for sure. The problem is if you get off rhytym, instead of one guy getting by you, two or three will get by you.”
Regardless of her performance, it was another coup for BMS to have one of the sport’s major stars promote an upcoming event.
“It’s a tribute to our team,” Caldwell said. “We have the best folks in the business. Once we’ve talked about how we were going to promote our events, we talked about involving the biggest stars in the sport. It was great to have Danica as part of a great St. Patrick’s Day celebration.”