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Danica Patrick at the Brickyard

Talks about "process" of learning Indy in a stock car

A few Bricks shy of a load

INDIANAPOLIS -- Greetings, Blobophiles, from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where the cynics were dubbing today Fan Appreciation Day on account of there weren't too many of them.

Seriously, drove past the Coke Lot campground this a.m., and, sure, I realize the Brickyard 400 isn't until tomorrow. But it was as empty as I've ever seen it.

Which is likely why there's been so much talk the last couple of days about the Brickyard eventually becoming a night race, once the Indianapolis Motor Speedway does the inevitable and installs lights. Media center insiders were predicting it could happen as soon as next year, and most of the drivers fell in with the party line on the matter.

"If putting up lights and making it a night race is more enjoyable for the fans and fun and fits the schedule and works for the sport overall, then I think we are all for it," Carl Edwards said. "It would be a blast. It will be a neat part of history if we are in fact the first series to get to run under the lights."

* For all the concern about the new Gen-6 car, it seemed to take to the Speedway pretty well. Nine drivers eclipsed the previous track record of 286.293, set by Casey Mears in 2004. Ryan Newman won the pole with a record 187.531 lap.

* NASCAR Sprint Cup rookie Danica Patrick says she's learning. And what's mainly learning is this: Learning takes time.

"I think that hoping for top 10s and wins all the time is fairly unrealistic," she said before qualifying 33rd for her first Brickyard 400. "It doesn't mean it can't happen. Daytona was a top 10 to start the year off, but I think it's far more realistic to hope for top 15s and top 20s right now.

"If there is one thing I've learned it's about baby steps and it's about making realistic goals you can achieve. Otherwise it's just constantly frustrating because if you had set a goal of top 20 and you finish there then you have something to be happy about, where if you don't set a goal at all and you're 20th, then you are like, 'I suck, I'm 20th.'

"You have to set goals along the way and it's a process ... I wish I was better off than I am right now, but we are getting better. I asked Tony (Stewart) after Loudon how I was doing and what does he really expect out of me. Do you think I am supposed to be top-20 or top-15 all the time? Or am I not? He said 'If I see there being an issue, or something that stood out as a problem, or an area you needed to work on, I would have come to you already. But I don't.' That's the boss ... so."

Ben Smith's blog.