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Danica Patrick and Jon Henry Racing Team-up at Eldora's Prelude to the Dream

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Jon Henry believes Patrick's high-visibility will help to bring new fans to Dirt Late Model racing.
Jon Henry believes Patrick's high-visibility will help to bring new fans to Dirt Late Model racing.
Eldora Speedway the legendary dirt track located near Rossburg, Ohio will host the "Feed the Children Prelude to the Dream" charity race on Wednesday, June 6. Adding her particular celebrity spotlight to the event will be popular female racer Danica Patrick. Patrick will be racing Jon Henry's 2011 Eldora Speedway Late Model Championship car. Jon Henry Racing and Patrick's team worked diligently to put this deal into place. Patrick was looking for a top-notch ride and Henry was looking for a popular driver. When an agreement was reached, both sides were excited about having Patrick race for charity in one of the country's premier Dirt Late Model events. Patrick is quoted saying that she hasn't raced on dirt since she was 10, and that was once in a go-kart.

"I feel like the biggest challenge will be getting comfortable behind the wheel of a Dirt Late Model," Patrick told K&N. "As someone who has raced my entire life, there are times when even I don't feel as comfortable as I did the week before, or even the race before. Knowing the race is only for charity will most likely ease some of those concerns, but also knowing you're racing a $40,000 Dirt Late Model that doesn't belong to you brings about a few stresses. In addition, I think the above-mentioned car control and throttle control may prove to be big learning curves. I think any racer - no matter what type of car or surface - will tell you that controlling a 2300 pound, 900 horsepower race car on dirt is a challenge no matter how much or how little experience you have."
(Photo- AP) Danica Patrick says she hasn't raced on dirt since she was 10.
(Photo- AP) Danica Patrick says she hasn't raced on dirt since she was 10.


Henry, a two-time Sunoco American Late Model Series Champion, last fielded a car in the Prelude to the Dream in 2010. The driver of his car that year was another worldwide motorsports star, Travis Pastrana. Pastrana finished 23rd in his dirt track debut, but stated the opportunity to race a Dirt Late Model was something he'd never forget. We talked with Henry to get his take on having Patrick pilot his championship car.

What does it mean to you and to the Prelude event to have Patrick sign on?

"It's a huge honor for me to have Danica Patrick drive my car at the Feed the Children Prelude to the Dream at Eldora Speedway. She's a worldwide superstar and well-known on so many different levels that the amount of exposure it brings to my team can only benefit us. As for the Prelude itself, I'm sure everyone associated with Eldora Speedway, and to that event, is just as proud to have her signed on as I am. She brings a following of fans that, most likely, will have never been to a dirt track stock car race before. Bringing new fans into our sport is great for the sport itself, as well as a prestigious venue like Eldora Speedway."
Patrick feels that controlling a 2300 pound, 900 horsepower race car on dirt is a challenge no matter how much or how little experience she has.
Patrick feels that controlling a 2300 pound, 900 horsepower race car on dirt is a challenge no matter how much or how little experience she has.


Tell us a bit about the charity and your involvement with it.

"Although I'm not directly involved with Feed the Children in any way, I know they have signed on a sponsor at Eldora Speedway, not just for this event, but for the entire year. Their mission is to have served over 320,000 families by the end of the year. What I enjoy most about the organization is their desire to not just feed kids in the literal sense, but also on the education side of things. They're big on nourishment for the mind as well, which I think is great for the underprivileged children of the world."

How do you feel Patrick will do in the Late Model world, has she practiced in your car yet, and how did it go?

"As you probably know, Danica has been progressively getting more involved with the stock car type of racing the past few years. Racing Dirt Late Models will undoubtedly give her an experience she has probably never had before. Honestly, I feel as though racing Dirt Late Models can often benefit anyone racing on asphalt as it teaches you an unbelievable amount of both car control and throttle control. Although she has not yet practiced for the June 6th event, we're currently working on getting her a test date in the near future."

This may be a tough question to answer, but is she thinking of trying other dirt racing formats or is this a one-time thing?

"That's a good question and, honestly, I'm not sure. I would imagine, for the time being, this is simply a one-shot deal. However, in the same sense, I doubt she would pass up the opportunity to race for charity again if the opportunity presented itself and the event fit into her busy schedule."

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