- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 22, 2013

CONCORD, N.C. (AP) - Danica Patrick refuses to get down on herself even though her first full season on the Sprint Cup series has been a struggle.

She is 28th in the Sprint Cup point standings after 11 races and has just one top-10 finish _ that came in the season-opening Daytona 500.

“At the end of the day it’s about keeping your head up and not getting discouraged to the point where it takes away from potential,” Patrick told The Associated Press while at a promotional event Wednesday in Concord, N.C. “When you’re in a bad mood and you’re defeated, I don’t think that’s going to get you the results you want.”

Unlike a year ago, Patrick and her Stewart-Haas Racing team have struggled this season on 1.5-mile tracks.

That leaves her concerned about her chances at Sunday’s racing marathon _ the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

She knows that the 600-mile race means she stands a chance of falling a few laps down if there aren’t a lot of cautions.

“Yeah, it definitely makes you a little worried that if things don’t go well they’re going to be really bad because you have an extra 100 to 200 miles on the race track,” Patrick said.

Then she flashes a positive smile and says, “but then again, it also gives us a chance of turning things around.”

Aside from her eighth place finish at Daytona, Patrick has only cracked the top 15 once — a 12th place finish at Martinsville that she said exceeded even her own expectations.

She’s finished no better than 25th in the other nine races.

Patrick, 31, knows she needs to get better but also realizes that will take time.

Regardless of this year’s results, she remains one of the most popular drivers in the sport. Last Saturday night, she won the fan vote to get into the Sprint All-Star race. She wasn’t competitive in the race, but she was there representing her team.

Patrick said the focus has been on finding a good baseline setup for her car, something that’s caused the No. 10 Chevy some problems this year.

“We went testing a few weeks ago and started a process that we hope will work for us over the next couple of weeks,” Patrick said. “If it doesn’t work, we’ll start over and find a new one.”

She hasn’t set any goals for her first full season on the Sprint Cup Series other than to improve every week she’s on the track. Patrick said she’s enjoying racing stock cars and the more she’s away from open wheel racing the less likely she’s ever going back.

Story Continues →