Editor's Note: Over the next several weeks leading up to The Clash at Daytona, we will feature keys to success for a different driver each day.
Danica Patrick enters her fifth full-time season in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2017 -- and based off of the expectations, she hasn’t lived up to the hype.
Patrick did make some smaller strides in 2016, like keeping her car clean and completing the fourth-most laps last season. But for the first time since becoming a full-time driver in NASCAR's top series, she failed to record a single top-10 finish and ended up a disappointing 24th in the points for the second year in a row.
Check out the five keys for Patrick to have a successful season in 2017:
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With the introduction of a clothing line, a fitness routine, yoga, constant media attention, and the normal rigors of being a NASCAR driver that travels for 38 of 40 weeks, Patrick must keep her attention on continuing to grow as a driver if she wants to have success in 2017.
Feed off the Ford
While there’s a chance Stewart-Haas Racing hits some growing pains with its transition to Ford, most believe it’ll be a strong marriage between the Blue Oval Gang and SHR. Patrick needs to take the added attention Ford has given SHR and make sure she performs at the highest level.
First, though, she will need to have the primary sponsorship deal she had with Nature's Bakery renewed. They were still in negotiations as of this week, with the 2017 Daytona 500 barely one month away.
Learn from the best
Patrick has received advice from her counterparts as she’s gained experience in NASCAR, but now one of the best competitors in the sport’s history has retired from racing. Gain as much information from Tony Stewart as you can, Danica. Her teammates know a thing or two about winning races, too. She needs to stay hungry and keep learning if she wants to succeed in the sport.
Outside of a few glimpses at superspeedways and short tracks, Patrick hasn’t shown the results to deserve the attention of the top drivers in the sport. That’s not a knock, it’s a reality. Heading into 2017, Patrick needs to understand what realistic results are for her season.
Find a way to take that 18th-place car and get to 14th. Those little moves go a long way instead of getting angry or frustrated when you’re 18th and making a mistake that knocks you back to 28th.
Getty ImagesRobert Laberge
Don’t wreck Ricky
On a bit of a lighter note, nobody wants to go home to an awkward meal after a race. Danica is a great cook and we don’t want her making dinner for a perturbed boyfriend.
The same definitely goes the other way, too. If Ricky wants to keep a happy home, then he should refrain from crashing into Danica.