Danica Patrick begins the 2016 season with a new primary sponsor and a fresh coat of light blue and white repaint on she No. 10 Chevrolet.Sean Gardner/Getty Images
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Danica Patrick to be hosting a Christmas having lunch for her gyeongju team in December as soon as the brand-new guy walked up to her table through a tray and also plopped down as though he\"d been part of the family for years.

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Billy Scott introduced himself, take it a bite and also joined the conversation. Thus started Patrick\"s relationship with her third crew chief because her NASCAR rookie season in 2013.

\"Billy is simply a an extremely relatable guy,\" stated Patrick, whose first regular-season race through Scott is Sunday\"s 58th Daytona 500. \"He\"s an extremely easy to talk to. He\"s just a really normal guy, and I think that\"s important when it pertains to a team -- the everyone have the right to talk come him, communicate and also feel favor they deserve to not just say what lock want however have a good time as well.\"

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Scott replace instead replace Ph.D. Technician Daniel Knost, who relocated to an in-house managerial position within Stewart-Haas Racing. It\"s one of a few major alters for Patrick start the 2016 season: Nature\"s Bakery replaces GoDaddy as her major sponsor, and also Patrick will race she No. 10 Chevrolet through light blue and also white colors, instead of the easier-to-spot shining green, black and also orange.

Could Patrick maybe sneak up on some people this year?

\"I don\"t recognize what a reality expectation is, yet I understand what my expectation is,\" she said. \"I\"d favor to just get earlier to wherein I remained in 2014. Us were heavy in the height 15 every the time, had an excellent practices and also qualified pretty decently. Us were just an extremely competitive and also running up into the peak 10 sometimes. So, that\"s whereby I\"d favor to get back to as soon as the season starts, and also then have the ability to go from there. I think we\"ll have actually a an excellent year if that\"s the case.\"

Patrick had three top-10 finishes in 2014, all coming prior to Stewart-Haas Racing sent out her crew chief, Tony Gibson, to kurt Busch\"s No. 41 car and brought Knost end from Busch\"s team with three races left.

Patrick and Knost started out well sufficient last year, scoring top-10 finishes at Martinsville and also Bristol, however they tailed off and also didn\"t end up in the height 15 after ~ May.

Scott, a 38-year-old mechanical engineer native Land O\" Lakes, Florida, comes over from Michael Waltrip Racing, wherein he once operated under Rodney Childers, who\"s now the crew chief for Patrick\"s teammate and also 2014 sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick.

Waltrip says among Scott\"s strengths is being able to weigh both the driver\"s feedback against the design data as soon as they conflict, and also he thinks he\"ll be \"perfect\" for Patrick.

\"He\"s level-headed and also calm, and I think that\"s something she\"ll appreciate,\" Waltrip said.

Scott says his lighter method comes naturally, and also he\"ll try to save it up throughout the grueling 36-race season. \"We\"re all together so numerous weeks out of the year and spend so lot time around each other that you\"ve got to be able to be maybe joke around with each other and have part fun,\" the said. \"There\"s a an extremely fine line between it being amazing and beginning to wear on you. Human being get melted out pretty quick in this business and we simply need to try and prevent that.\"

Patrick signed a new multiyear contract v Stewart-Haas Racing critical August after some conjecture she could lose she spot on one of NASCAR\"s height teams. She\"ll have actually Nature\"s Bakery and her quasi-Carolina Blue colors on her auto for 28 races, with Aspen Dental and TaxAct splitting the staying eight races.

The push is off a small bit at Daytona, wherein Patrick made history in 2013 by coming to be the an initial woman to victory a sprint Cup pole and also lead laps in the Daytona 500 before finishing eighth. As with any type of other driver, though, there space two significant challenges in ~ Daytona: staying clear of the inevitable multicar wrecks and also finding drafting partners.

\"You just need to earn that where people want to monitor you since they think in you and also they to trust you,\" Patrick said. \"I don\"t think there\"s a large substitute because that time. I think that\"s\" just what you need to do. Time and also proving yourself.\"

Patrick remembered once her teammate Busch passed her on the outside and also took a heat of chauffeurs with him throughout last Saturday\"s acceleration Unlimited. \"I don\"t think that would happen to me,\" she said, \"but Kurt has actually been approximately a lengthy time and he\"s winner a the majority of races. And he\"s winner a championship.\"

Nature\"s Bakery replace instead replace GoDaddy together Danica Patrick\"s major sponsor on her No. 10 Chevrolet.AP Photo/Chuck BurtonBusch states Patrick has actually put in the time, and now demands to present she can be a variable at the finish of races.

\"I think it\"s just a issue of she closing the deal as soon as it comes to restarts and also finishing the gyeongju stronger,\" he said. \"I think we could pull up part stats -- i don\"t recognize them for certain -- yet I would say the an initial three quarters of she races are a lot far better 보다 the final quarter. That\"s what I\"ve to be trying to teach her, is the we have to finish stronger in ~ the finish of these races.\"


Patrick states she actually feels much more confident about the 2nd race the the season at Atlanta engine Speedway, whereby she had a sixth-place finish in august 2014.

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\"I feel much more confident the I might get a top-10 finish there 보다 I feeling confident I might get a top-10 complete at Daytona, just because it\"s together a crapshoot ,\" she said. \"You have to have so much luck on her side. You have to avoid the accidents, be at the right location at the right time, have actually some great pit stops and make some great decisions top top the track, so there\"s simply a lot friend can\"t counting on.\"

Still, Daytona is the start of something brand-new for Patrick. And for the an initial time in she career, she comes in simply a small bit under the radar.