Danica Patrick spent the middle of this week honoring sponsor commitments, including a Thursday news conference at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where she officially added a major cola company to her lucrative portfolio of endorsement deals.
Business commitments aside, she would rather have been 102 miles southeast in rural South Carolina, coaxing a rental car toward the backstretch wall at Darlington Raceway in preparation for Saturday night's Southern 500. Or peering out the passenger window as Sprint Cup boss/teammate Tony Stewart did the driving, as was the plan for Thursday night.
Patrick will hit that foreboding barrier herself eventually. It's going to happen. It happens to everyone who races at NASCAR's first superspeedway. It is an acquired skill.
"You've really got to be able to get as close as you can to the wall in order to carry your momentum through the corners because you've got to make the straightaways as long as you can," said 2008 Darlington Cup race winner Kyle Busch.