April 21, 2010

SI.com chatted with IndyCar darling Danica Patrick about her upcoming voiceover work in Bizarre Creation's new racing title Blur. But lending her voice to the game hasn't been the only thing IndyCar's most famous face has been up to. After a disappointing finish in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, Patrick reflects on her performance, what she hopes to improve on at Kansas and her go at stock-car racing in NASCAR.

SI.com: Let's start with a little racing news. How did Long Beach treat you last weekend? What went well, what didn't go so well?

DP: Unfortunately, it didn't go so well. It was a tough weekend. We just didn't get the car dialed in the way I wanted it to be: comfortable and fast. It wasn't like I was all that far off when it came to qualifying, but it's just so close that if you're not there, you're not there at all.

The whole field is covered by a second, which is like, what? A blink. It's so, so, so close and tight it's probably twice as hard as it used to be. There are so many good race car drivers in the IndyCar Series now, especially on road courses because we've become primarily a road course series. It's kind of surprising because we just started it. Only five years ago, when I came into the series, there were only three road courses on the schedule. So things have changed a lot but you just have to raise your game.

SI.com: Is there anything you're planning on taking from Long Beach with you to Kansas? Any new pit strategies you're eyeing?

DP: Well, I think the first goal is going to be to just qualify up front and have a car that is very comfortable for a race. Then you can just settle in and pick people off if their car starts to go off or slide, and maybe pick a couple off in the pits. The idea is that you qualify from the pole, you lead every lap and you win the race. But if that doesn't happen, I think it's really important to hang around the front and be in that top-5 group and be ready to push it out at the end.

SI.com: It's been a few weeks since you drove a few races in NASCAR. How did the circuit treat you? What were your impressions, things you learned?

DP: I loved driving the Nationwide car, it was fun. It was fun driving the ARCA car. too. It's all so new to me, so it's all interesting and fun and challenging. It's all very rewarding, too, because there are a lot of little victories in the beginning for sure. But I think that the stock-car racing is going to help my oval racing in IndyCar and that's not a bad thing.

SI.com: And like many an IndyCar star, you are big on Twitter and TwitPics. One retweet noted that you were in the running to make Time's 100 most influential people of 2010 list. So that made us wonder who your most influential people are for 2010.

DP: I've been one of those people whose always thought that I've learned from the people I'm around. I've never named names. I like the people I meet and those are the people I learn from, relate to.

SI.com: And who are your influences in the sport?

DP: In NASCAR, a guy like Tony Stewart. I have so much respect for him and he has tried to be helpful and wants to help me, so these people are my teachers. But I'm definitely not at a loss for people that are willing to help me in IndyCar. Tony Kanaan is a great teammate.

So the people who are close to me are the people I try to learn from and listen to. And then having good people around you -- my husband, my family, all the people that work with me -- they're all important.

SI.com: So tell us a little bit about how you got involved with doing the voiceover work in Blur?

Danica Patrick: Well, it was a game that there was a place for a driver to be in and play the character. So they asked if I was up for it, and after playing the game and hearing what it was all about I thought it would be a really cool project.

SI.com: Are you a big video game fan?

DP: No, I wouldn't say I'm a big video game fan. But I think that, in the end, is what ultimately made me want to do this. When I played the game it was something that was easy and user-friendly. Some games you actually have to learn how to play and the steering is hard and the braking is hard, everything is kind of complicated and you have to get a feel for it, but this is not that hard.

But there are still ways to learn how to become better than everyone. But I think just playing the game and driving the car around the track, it's not that hard. It also allows you to do other things, like boost power-ups, and there are power-ups that fix your car and there are power-ups that blow up other cars.

SI.com: And one of the other features is a multi-player set-up also?

DP: How many times do you see people playing video games and they're waiting for their turn? It's cool because it's not just such a single sport, it's not a single thing. You can do it with people. And you can do it with people in different places, too. You can also Twitter from the game and all kinds of different stuff.

SI.com: Given all the customizable features of the game, what would be your ideal set-up? Car, location and players to compete against?

DP: I drove the Lotus car, which is the balanced car, and that's a good car to start. We were on a street, so there was no dirt; if you put a loose car on dirt, it's going to be super loose. So the car is appropriate for the track. I played at a place called Russian Steps in San Francisco, that's where I won my first game. But there are tons of great places; there's like Monaco and lots of great choices. The track only matters for the car, really.

And if I had to pick three people, maybe I'd just pick my three teammates.

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