Vince Bucci, Getty Images
Robert Laberge, Getty Images
Nick Laham, Getty Images
Robert Laberge, Getty Images
Jim Spellman, WireImage.com
Stan Honda, AFP / Getty Images
Mark Mainz, Getty Images
Marc Serota, Getty Images
Bryan Bedder, Getty Images
Jonathan Ferrey, Getty Images
Randy Kim: So I've got to say, doing that shoot looked like harder work than I would have imagined ...
Danica Patrick: Well, you definitely cheat the pose a little to look good for the camera, not to mention all of the things that are on the car; things to lift the hood up that are daggers in my side and things like that, but it's not that bad. But I'm sure my back will feel a little weird tomorrow from all of the arching and twisting and turning, and my head might have some bruises from the windshield, but it's, of course, worth it.
RK: It basically looked like you were taking a yoga class on the hood of the car with all of the contortions.
DP: It was definitely a little bit of contorting, but luckily I didn't have to put my legs in any completely inappropriate ways like we do in yoga, so we kept it to mostly the midsection moving.
RK: This is your second year in a row doing the Swimsuit Issue, so can you talk about how much of an honor that is for you?
DP: It is really an honor. I was talking to my husband the other day and he was wondering if an athlete's gone back-to-back in the issue before, and I don't know that answer. They might have, there might be some other ones, but I don't think it's incredibly common, so I'm really, really flattered that SI would have me in the issue again, and, you know, I would love to be a regular in the issue. I'm going to work hard this year to try and earn that spot again. (Laughs)
RK: Last year you shot on a beach in Florida. This year you're in New York with a sportscar ...
DP: Yeah, I thought maybe we were going to go to the Hamptons and shoot on the beach, but then we were here so I figured that wasn't the case.
RK: Was the car your idea?
DP: No, you know, Diane Smith is the senior editor for this whole issue and she comes up with all of the concepts, all of the ideas, and, well, I'm sure she probably has some help, but she has such an eye and a feel for this stuff. Even just flipping through swimming suits, Diane is able to just pull one and go, "Hmmm, try this one." And you might not think it looks good, and then you put it on and you're like, "Wow!" You really ... you feel this, you know this, and she has a lot of experience, so I leave it up to her and her people to make the decisions on how to shoot me. It's, after all, their issue, not mine.
Rich Franklin/American Fighter
Rich Franklin/American Fighter
Agence Zoom, Getty Images
Martin Rose, Getty Images
Chuck Burton, AP
Elmer Martinez, AFP/Getty Images
Todd Korol, Reuters
RK: Well, you looked great in the shoot. So is this body by IRL? How much work does it require for you to stay in tip-top shape?
DP: Well, it's an ongoing fitness regimen for the on-track stuff, and for being strong and having endurance. But this is a little bit different. I actually used Body By Jake to get fit for (the photo shoot). I did it on my own last year and thought, "You know what? Let's just give this a whirl." So, it was a really cool experience, and it was a lot of hard work, but it's different training for swimsuit, and it's not so much about being as strong or to have as much endurance as much as it is to kind of be lean and mean.
RK: Everyone has their guilty food pleasure. What's yours?
DP: Actually, I'm really sad that I didn't eat the pizza (that was served during the shoot). I had some rice and some chicken and some salad, and that's sick. Why did I do that? I should be having pizza today. It's the day that it doesn't matter anymore! I think my body's pretty used to the whole clean foods right now, so I'll ease into it for the next couple of days. But I'd say chocolate. I love chocolate. Pizza. Chocolate. Candy ... No, I'm a healthy person, so everything in moderation.
RK: So you're no Tony Stewart health-wise?
DP: Well ... I mean, Tony Stewart is fit too. He's not as lean as I am, probably, but there's no doubt that if you're going to go out there and run a four-hour race, you have to have a reasonable amount of fitness too.
RK: What is your best feature?
DP: I don't think that I'm the one that's supposed to say what my best feature is. I think I leave that up to everyone else, or else it's just Danica being vain, so I don't think I have any good features.
RK: Worst feature?
DP: All of them. They're all the worst. I wish they were all better. I wish they were all a little bit better, a little bit more enhanced, a little bit more perfect. But, you know, I think what makes a woman really beautiful is when she's confident and comfortable in herself and the way she looks, and so as I get older I get more and more comfortable with it, so maybe that's part of why I'm in the issue again? I don't know. (Laughs)
RK: Well, I noticed you have a tattoo on your lower back.
DP: I do?
RK: Maybe you don't? Maybe I'm making that up?
DP: Yeah, I have a huge tattoo on my lower back. Yeah.
RK: Well, if you had to get another one, what would it be?
DP: I love tattoos, actually. I know that's probably not the most popular thing to say, but I just like that something means enough that you can put it on your body. Something that is that meaningful that it's there forever. Man, if I got another one ... I want something with words in it next time. Mine is a checkered flag-American flag with some angel wings and some stars and stuff. It's a two-part thing, I got the first half of it when I was 19 and I got the rest of it just a few months ago, and I'm 26 now. So, some words. Some writing. Some meaningful writing.
RK: Who is tougher to work with, a crew chief or a fashion photographer?
DP: (Laughs) Well, I think that a crew chief is reacting, and a photographer is proactive, so you definitely are playing off of a photographer more than you are off of a crew chief, let's say. Or off of an engineer or anything like that, even. With a photographer, they're leading the way a little bit more. In racing, I'm the one that comes in off the track and says, "Look, it's under-steering, it's over-steering, this is what it's doing," and then they react from my comments. I'm a little bit more at the mercy of everyone else at a photo shoot. But that's OK, because I'm not a professional model, so I want to take their lead.
RK: And your dog's name is Ricky Bobby?
DP: Nope. My dog's name is Billy Bob, or "William Robert." My sister's dog's name is Ricky Bobby. We have Pete, Billy and Ricky.
RK: Well, I was going to ask you about car-racing movies.
DP: Oh yeah, so of course "Talladega Nights" comes up. Well, that was why my sister named her dog Ricky Bobby. But I've got to say, I like "Days of Thunder", man. I think it's a strong racing movie. I wasn't such a fan of "Driven" or anything like that. The likelihood of someone pulling over to get out of their car to help a teammate? (Shakes head)
RK: OK, well, one more question. Checkered-flag bikini: Best idea ever or worst idea ever?
DP: I think that if people follow racing at all or sports or anything, then they kind of know who's who and I'd kind of like to branch out from the whole logo-ing of myself and be able to be recognizable without a checkered flag and without all those kinds of things. I do like black and white, and I like stripes and all that kind of stuff, and I like checkered flags, because it's, like, part of me. But checkered-flag swimming suit? Little cheesy.
RK: You like winning them, not wearing them.
DP: Little cheesy.
(Check out SI.com's special Swimsuit '09 section for more coverage from this year's issue.)