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Danica Patrick ready to make her own mark at Honda Indy

Danica Patrick would rather not hear about racing in the shadow of her team owner at the Honda Indy Toronto.

She doesn't want to know about Michael Andretti's seven wins on the road course around Exhibition Place, where she has yet to crack the podium.

"Good for him," said Patrick, who will instead be looking to improve upon her two career sixth-place finishes in this event. "Obviously he hasn't translated it into seven wins for me.

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"I think just because Michael's won here a bunch doesn't mean (the team's) going to win here a bunch. Everybody's a different driver and everybody prefers different things in their car. It's a different team, different resources, it's a different time."

Expectations will always be high for Patrick, who despite having just one career circuit win is still the face of the IZOD IndyCar Series.

Toronto, however, seems like a race where the 29-year-old driver could make a breakthrough.

In Patrick's first attempt on the road course, she started 18th and moved up 12 spots. Last year she started 12th before improving six places at the finish line.

Her sarcastic answer to breaking the sixth-place barrier was to "finish one better."

The actual answer has more to do with Patrick's performance in Saturday's qualifying, which she describes as a weakness even after a second-place start at Iowa last week.

She says a good starting position on the race grid will give her a better chance to win.

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"Qualifying I think is the biggest point," she said, "and then beyond that obviously when you improve by a thousand or so positions in the race, obviously you're doing something right in the race so I just need to qualify higher."

Andretti Autosport is flying high after Marco Andretti — the owner's son — won the Iowa Corn Indy 250 last week. It was the team's second victory of the season after Mike Conway finished first at Long Beach in April.

With points leader Dario Franchitti and defending Toronto champion Will Power engaged in what appears to be a two-horse race for the series' title, Patrick and her team will instead be focusing on individual performances as the second half of the season begins.

Ryan Hunter-Reay, one of Patrick's teammates, could be one to watch in this event.

Hunter-Reay started fourth before finishing third last year. He pointed to the straightaway that gives drivers hope for winning the race.

"As long as you start in the top 10, you feel like you have an opportunity of winning without a crazy fuel strategy race," he said.

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Even Patrick, who in the past has been vocal about her preference to ovals over road courses, said she enjoys the setup in Toronto.

"I believe that this is probably our best road course race of the year," she said.

And whereas Patrick may try to figure out the Toronto layout herself, Hunter-Reay said he has no problem going to Andretti for advice.

"I was trying to pry that out of him last year," said Hunter-Reay. "Give me the secrets around this place.

"And he did, he helped with a few things there. You definitely gotta go ask him for it but he'll absolutely let you know what his bits are, and when Michael talks you definitely listen. He knows his way around Toronto."

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