- Associated Press - Friday, August 13, 2010

BROOKLYN, MICH. (AP) - Danica Patrick is optimistic that the formation of a drivers association in IndyCar racing will give competitors a stronger voice in the sport.

Patrick says IndyCar drivers met at Mid-Ohio last weekend and talked about a formal alliance to give them more input on safety, competition and other issues in the sport.

“We got together as drivers and think it’s a good idea to have a voice and be more professional and unified on what we want,” Patrick said Friday at Michigan International Speedway.

But Patrick, who is preparing for Saturday’s Nationwide series race at Michigan, wisely sidestepped a question about the need for a similar organization in NASCAR. Drivers’ past attempts to form something similar to a union in NASCAR have led to conflicts with the sport’s leaders.

In 1961, officials banned Curtis Turner for life after he tried to organize a union, but the ban was lifted after a few years. A subsequent attempt to organize a drivers association and boycott a race at Talladega over safety issues in 1969 fizzled out.

“I definitely don’t have enough experience over here to know whether you need one or not,” Patrick said. “I definitely don’t want to say anything about this side of things until I have much more time under my belt.”

So far, Patrick’s early exploits in NASCAR have shown just how tough it is for drivers to make the transition to stock cars from another form of racing.

In five Nationwide starts this season, Patrick’s best finish was 24th at Chicagoland last month.

She’s maintaining humble goals, hoping to finish inside the top 20 on Saturday.

“I think my expectation levels for this race will be similar. I’m hoping for top-15, -20 finishes. I didn’t quite get into the top 20 last time. I think the expectation level stays the same for this weekend, and we’ll see what we can do.”