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After running over shoe, Patrick not sure luck can get worse

Associated Press

8/24/2012 10:47:45 AM

BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Danica Patrick channeled her best Austin Powers impersonation to characterize her recent run of bad luck.

"Who throws a shoe?" Patrick asked Friday in a faux English accent. "I mean, really?"

The line from the original "Austin Powers" movie applies to Patrick after she ran over a shoe while leading last weekend at Montreal. It's not clear if running over the shoe was entirely at fault for ruining her race, but it marked the beginning of the end of her attempt to win her first NASCAR race.

"(I was) looking forward to having a shot to win, and that happened in the lead," she said. "Whether it was what caused the problem or not, I don't know. But it definitely was what ended up leading toward the end of our day."

The shoe, which she described as dark with a light-colored sole, was the latest incident in what Patrick has called the worst streak of bad luck in her career. She wrecked on the first lap at Watkins Glen and was spun by Jacques Villeneuve at Road America -- two other tracks where she might have contended for the win.

"I can't tell how many people said after Watkins Glen what bad luck I had -- and then I hit a shoe," she said. "So I don't feel like it can get a lot worse. I don't know if anybody has ever hit a shoe before. It's just a weird situation. I'm ready for it to turn, I'm ready for some good luck and some good results. I can't remember having this much bad luck.

"I don't ever remember feeling like I just can't seem to catch a break for so long and in such big ways sometimes."

Patrick's unlucky streak rolls into Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend, where she's scheduled to run both the Nationwide Series race and Saturday night's Sprint Cup Series race.

Tony Stewart, who owns her Sprint Cup Series team, picked the hardest tracks on the schedule for Patrick to run this year as a test session for a planned full Cup season in 2013. The three-time NASCAR champion last week asked for patience with Patrick, and said expectations have been too hard on the former open-wheel star.

Asked Friday if she regrets Stewart's scheduling, Patrick said she won't know if the boss was correct in picking hard races until next year.

"We'll know if it's beneficial next year when either I feel much more comfortable coming back to those tracks or I have better results," she said. "At this point and time, it's about gaining the experience. There is a saying, 'What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.' So I'm sure that it will help in the long run.

"As long as I can keep my head up and stay confident, and stay looking forward and upbeat, I think they will serve that purpose. But, there's always that chance that these are humbling moments especially being at the tough tracks they are at and the tough races that they are. I've just got to focus on staying positive."