LOUDON, N.H. – Having the IZOD IndyCar Series back in New England means having one of auto racing's iconic stars on the New Hampshire Motor Speedway grounds.
Danica Patrick took a few minutes to meet with the assembled media in the infield at New Hampshire early this afternoon. She touched on everything from IndyCar's return to the region for the first time in more than a decade, to her future in NASCAR, to the impact of women racing in the open-wheel circuit.
Here are some of the highlights:
On testing at New Hampshire today: "I'm surprised how fast it is. We're up in the second lane, where there's a little more banking. There will be that lane (open) down low, but the challenge will be to make it stick."
On whether having NASCAR Nationwide Series experience at New Hampshire has helped her: "Everything changes significantly when you get in an IndyCar."
On whether adding a race at New Hampshire is viewed as a chance to expand the sport of IndyCar racing: "I'm not really the person to ask that question. I don't pick the schedule.
"Whenever we go somewhere new, it always feels to me like it goes well. I heard ticket sales weren't that good, but the only way people will come back is if we put on a good show and they like what they see... It's got to be fun all weekend."
On whether she's made a decision regarding a move to NASCAR in 2012: "I feel like I've been receiving the same question (over and over). I'm fortunate that everyone keeps asking, but there's nothing to report right now. I'm sorry. I feel like a broken record. I feel like I'm boring you guys."
On whether Carl Edwards' decision to stay at Roush Fenway Racing effects her decision-making process: "I can't say it did. But good for him. Congrats to him. I'm sure he'll probably keep doing great."
On whether or not having four women as regulars in IndyCar generates more interest from the female demographic: "Do you guys know more people coming out because there are girls at the track? No? I think you guys are answering the question yourselves."
On whether being such a popular figure is a distraction: "I don't think it makes it more difficult.. You keep a little more busy, but I feel like it maybe gives me more motivation because people are watching."
On the obvious comparison between New Hampshire and the Milwaukee Mile: "The tracks are very similar. They're flat and they're the same distance. What might be different is that here we are in the second lane, so it might leave the bottom lane open (to pass). It will be interesting to see if you can really accomplish passes down there."