Kinder, gentler Danica?

April 6, 2009
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PatrickIt was an odd site before the Indy Racing League race in St. Petersburg Sunday. There was Danica Patrick talking about her new approach to racing. She was telling Versus’ Jack Arute that she wasn’t going to get upset over every little thing this season, and was going to try to enjoy her racing more.

“If you don’t win, you can find something to complain about every week,” Patrick told Arute with a smile.

Patrick promised to be as competitive as ever when the green flag dropped, but it sounded like she was swearing off tantrums. Could this be the dawning of a new era; a kinder, gentler Danica?

Her new philosophy was put to the test on lap 31 of Sunday’s 100-lap road race, when rookie Rafael Matos and Patrick tangled and crashed. It looked like Patrick responded professionally. After the crash, when the two drivers exited their cars, Patrick tapped Matos on the helmet, as if to say, “think.” Then the two had a mildly animated conversation while waiting for a ride back to the pits.

“It’s not exactly the ideal spot to pass.” Patrick told reporters later. “We were going into the fast chicane there and there’s no room, there's no room for two people. ... I was looking in my mirrors and I saw him. He just wasn’t all the way up next to me.”

Matos, for his part, blamed the accident on Patrick, saying she passed a lapped driver when she shouldn’t have, then didn’t give him enough room to pass.

The media was quick to cover the Patrick-Matos interaction, with some jumping on the same old story line. The Indianapolis Star this morning ran the headline, “Danica wrecks, whines.”

It appeared from video replays, Patrick had a legitimate beef. So even if Danica is ready to turn the page, it appears those who follow and report on the sport are not.
  • The guys doing the radio call on the race both said Danica had reason to be upset with Matros and that he appeared to be in the wrong from the replay.
  • I think Danica needs to focus on competing for victories and not on how others are preventing her from getting those victories. She needs to know that the camera never blinks.
  • It's sad that the Indy Star would highlight Danica's alway predictable hissy fit instead of the race winner and action on the track. As she never qualifies high or battles for the lead on any circuit, her post race rants are those of a soon to be backmarker driver.
  • Doncha get it, Steve? She didn't rant this time. And, remember, she did finish 6th in the standings last year. Yeah, she needs much improvement on road courses, but she's hardly a backmarker. If you go back and look at the history of past champions, many took a few years before they fell into their potential groove. Perhaps she will never achieve that, but it remains to be seen.

    As for her approach to bad situations, from what I saw on the reply, she approached this situation yesterday as a professional. Cut her some slack, big boy.
  • One thing is sure - Danica's driving is already in mid-season form!
  • No slack for Danica the brat! 6th in IRL standings with arguably the best equipment available is no big accomplishment. I know past champions' history well and Danica's progress doesn't indicate she'll be finishing higher than 6th any time soon.

    I'm no different than many other racing fans who are tired of Danica getting all the attention when she's done nothing to deserve it save for the fact she's a female driver who'll strip down to next to nothing for a photo spread.
  • Whether you like Danica or not, The Star headline was absolutely uncalled for ... and inacurate for that matter.
  • Steve the same can be said for any number of stars in any number of sports. It does not always take talent to get attention. That said, Danica has still done more in racing than just about any other woman. And her success would be welcome in any racing series.
  • What hissy fit? I watched from start to finish, including post race interviews.
  • I thought you were going to refrain from Danicle-izing your column, Anthony. :lol:
  • 1. Indy Car on Versus? Oh how the mighty have fallen. Next it will be on CMT? And competing at the same time of day against NASCAR? I just don't get it.

    2. Danica having a problem with how other people drive? That's funny. Try winning a race or two because of great driving (fuel mileage win as your only win doesn't count for much) and stop complaining about others. Winners can complain...losers complaining rings hollow.

    3. Danica has become the Anna Kournikova of racing. I used to not only watch IndyCar but I would pull for her wholeheartedly. But she is just an average racer, can't ride the car to the edge and keep it there like the great ones do, and really is a whiner. She whines like Kyle Busch, except he wins, so he can get away with it. I don't watch anymore after last year. I'm not even sure if I get the Versus channel.

    4. What are there, 20-some cars in a field for each race, of which there are 10 legitimate contenders each week? So unless you come inside the top five each week or for the season - especially given how she is truly driving the best equipment out there - then you are flopping bigtime. And it would seem that she is definately flopping...bigtime.

    So yes, I think she has become a whiner. Like I said, I used to pull for her. But now I don't, can't find the channel they broadcast on, and watch NASCAR because it would seem that they have the truly talented drivers. J
  • JMan,

    If you did watch, and I say if, then you really didn't get it at all. You sound just like the typical c>rt/owrs/ccws compainers that spew hate constantly. That St Pete race was one of the most competetive races I've seen in a long time, from top to near the bottom. So here we had Justin Wilson with Dale Coyne's team nearly winning. Ryan Hunter-Reay finishing second and both of those drivers just got in those cars recently. Great stories for both of them.

    Since you didn't watch, you wouldn't know, Danica was very professional in her comments. She was taken out by a rookie and did nothing close to whining. She's beginning to grow up. And, as I previously said, while it remains to be seen how her career will prosper or not, she is as you stated average on road courses, but competetive and challenging on ovals. So next time, watch or don't but if you don't save your opinions since they wouldn't be worth much.
  • You got me DaHooey, I did enact a self-emposed Danica moratorium. But I thought since the green flag dropped on the IRL season, it was fair to lift the moratorium somewhat. I will, however, endeavor not to go overboard with Danica news. Thanks, as always, for reading.
  • Egads JMan, you're complaining about IRL having only 10 cars out of a 20 car field that are competitive enough to win, then threaten to go back to watching NASCAR? In every NASCAR race there are 30-40 cars racing but only 10 or so have a chance to win.

    Plus, it's so darn boring watching NASCAR. They run around for 180 laps, have a big wreck then bunch up for a 10 lap shoot-out....every Sunday. Find Versus on your cable and watch more IRL races this year. It's honest to gosh, wheel to wheel racing.
  • You are welcome Anthony. I am always glad to provide a mature, logical, voice of reason around here.

    sidebar: people are finally seeing Shamica for what she is. And that is good for racing.
  • I have to agree with DaHooey,

    She is one of the greatest female drivers of all time. If she was a male, she would probably not even have a ride, but as one of the best females, she has a ride for life. It would be no different then the celebrity that would surround a female bball player or golfer who could compete with men on an even footing. They may only be average per the mens league, but being able to compete head to head with them would make her a star.
  • Indyman,

    Done well, she has. But she's certainly not come close to the achievements of Shirley Muldowney or potentially even Ashley Force. And, of course, we'll never know if her predecessors would have had as much success had they had top-of-the-class equipment as Danica has had. Lastly, would Katherine Legge have been as good with top notch equipment?
  • Katherine legge is 5 times the person Danica is. I've met both, numerous times.
  • First, are we talking the person or driver? As a person, half of our driving legends drop. Do you think AJ is a humanitarian? Do you think Dale Sr. would win a congeniality award? Ok, that said, I said one of the best. I agree she is no Shirley Muldowney, although it is easier for a female to run straight for a few seconds than to turn left for 4 hours. How much better would Babe Ruth have been with better bats? How much better would Hank Aaron been with steroids? How much better would Pete Maravitch been with a three point line? You cannot compare different eras in sports. Could Janet Guthrie have run better with Roger Penske equipment? More modern day, if Legge was good, she would probably have gotten better equipment.

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