By: Farrah Kaye
In January, on the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway, Danica Patrick announced she would skip the Indianapolis 500 in order to race in the Coca-Cola 600. This came as a surprise to many, as it had been rumored her contract to drive full-time for JR Motorsports allowed her to take time off to run the famous race she always spoke fondly of but never won (her highest finish was third in 2009).
“I’ve wanted to race stock cars for a little while here and it’s happening,” Patrick said. “We’ve added another challenge with the Coke 600, or Coke 6,000 as I’ve been told.”
But now the time for the Indy 500 activities have begun and Patrick is not preparing for it. Instead, she is beginning a new chapter of her racing career. During a press conference at Charlotte Motor Speedway, she was welcomed as the newest member of the Coca-Cola Racing family, representing Coke Zero. She made her entrance in a Coca-Cola 600/Coke Zero wrapped stock car and was joined by veteran Coke Family member and Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Ryan Newman.
“I have always drank Coke and Diet Coke and then Coke Zero came along,” Patrick said. “I’m not lying when I say it tastes like Coke.”
Already a prominent spokesperson for GoDaddy.com, Patrick made sure to let it be known she supports the product she is endorsing.
“I’ve always been a fan of Coca-Cola products so that makes the partnership easy and obvious to me and I’m lucky enough in my career and life to be able to align with people like that who are true and authentic to things that I’m enjoying throughout my life,” Patrick said.
With the Coca-Cola 600 just two weeks away, the question lingered: is she focused on preparations for her first Cup race at Charlotte? Or is she wishing she was in Indianapolis?
“I’ve been very distracted and I haven’t thought about it but I’m sure as soon as I start to see the footage on TV and start to hear about how it’s going, I have no doubt that I’ll be thinking and wondering and feeling like ‘if I was there…’” said Patrick. “But I’m very happy with my decision, I’m very happy in NASCAR.”
The Coca-Cola 600 is sometimes referred to as the “Coke 6,000” due to its length and toll it takes on the drivers. But Patrick is looking forward to it.
“I’m looking forward to the experience, I’m looking forward to the atmosphere,” she shared. “We’ve got some fun things planned as far as festivities go with it obviously being the Coca-Cola 600 and me being a new participant in the Coke family.
“And what am I most afraid of? Probably the length. I used to laugh. I heard people would have snacks in the car. I might need snacks in the car.”
Newman’s advice to her is to be “patiently aggressive” and to not shake her Coke before opening it.
Charlotte Motor Speedway is also home of the Danica Patrick Fit Fuel concession stand, which includes veggie sticks, fruit cups and veggie burgers to help promote healthier and vegetarian alternatives while at the race.
Patrick added to make sure Coke Zero is added to the menu. “All the taste without the guilt!”
Before pulling double duty in Charlotte (she will also be racing in the Nationwide Series HISTORY 300).
Farrah Kaye is a NASCAR columnist for CBS Local Digital Media and is a member of the NMPA. Her previous articles have appeared on SPEEDtv.com, newsweek.com and she holds a degree in Journalism. Follow her on Twitter @Farrah_Kaye.