Danica Patrick has a not-so-secret weapon this season: She’s tiny. Like 5’ 1”, 110 pounds tiny, which gives her a significant weight advantage over all her fellow NASCAR Sprint Cup competitors.
NASCAR rules mandate that all Sprint Cars must weigh 3,480 pounds with driver. For drivers 180 pounds and above, the car itself has to weigh 3,300 pounds. For drivers who weigh 170-179 pounds, the car weight must be 3,310 pounds, 160-169 pounds, 3,320 and so on.
But here’s where it gets interesting: NASCAR’s rulebook only addresses drivers as small as 140 pounds. Their cars need to weigh 3,340 pounds to hit the 3,480-pound minimum. But with Patrick a diminutive 110 pounds, she and her car weigh in and 3,450 pounds, at least 30 pounds lighter than any other car in the field.
How much of an advantage is it? That’s debatable, especially over a 500-mile race.
Think about this, though: Patrick’s Daytona 500 pole-winning lap of 196.434 miles took 45.817 seconds vs. 45.850 for second place Jeff Gordon. That’s a difference of 0.033 seconds. Surely 30 pounds is worth a blink-of-an-eye difference in time over 2.5 miles, right?