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Danica Patrick: Disappointing...disappointed and angry. Now what next?

 What do these eyes really see now? (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

  By Mike Mulhern

  FONTANA, Calif.
  Well, it wasn't pretty, that's for sure.
   Now we'll see just how much gumption she has.
   No driver likes being as uncompetitive  as Danica Patrick was in Saturday's Nationwide 300 here.
  Has the Indy-car star bitten off more than she can chew?
  Is her NASCAR game plan too ambitious?
  Why isn't she testing more, anywhere?
  The brutal facts:
  -- She started 36th Saturday, finished 31st, got lapped in the first 40 miles, finished three laps down, got caught speeding on pit road...then after the race stormed away from TV and the media to meditate on it all in her hauler.
   After she'd calmed down, she conceded the obvious:
   "I'm a competitor, and I'm used to running up front....so it's a shock when you're that far back.
   "But this is a whole new ball of wax for me. It's all different.
    "So I have to disconnect from the results, for sometime, because they're probably not going to be what I'm used to."
    Fortunately this California race wasn't her NASCAR debut. She did well at Daytona, enough to pique interest. But what she may be able to do next weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway – her last NASCAR race, apparently, until summer at Loudon, N.H. – is now questionable. At least there will be more banking (20 degrees) in the corners at Vegas, to help her get through the turns.
    Patrick was not just uncompetitive Saturday here but she was clearly uncomfortable through most of the two hour race. Basically she couldn't get comfortable getting into the turns at speed (190 mph), so the car didn't handle well through the rest of the corner and it had little punch off the turn.
    The picture (which TV mercifully didn't show much of) would make the point that NASCAR needs to allow newcomers to this sport more practice time and testing time.
    "It wasn't so pretty to start with, but I did what I wanted," Patrick said afterwards.
    And that was to run the full race and learn.
   How much did she learn? Well, that Daytona, with its 31-degree banking and restrictor plate drafting, is a lot different than this flat two-mile track.
   How well she progresses from here may depend on her capacity for dealing with frustration, which may not be her long suit.
   "I learned what the car feels like -- and what lane it needs, when pushing or loose...and just got more miles under my belt," she said. Now it's just a matter of "getting comfortable with the limits of the car."
   Juan Pablo Montoya said he was surprised Patrick even considered running this track, as difficult it is for veterans. He pointed out he did several short-track stock car stints before making the jump up to big tracks like this.
   If JPM is any gauge on how a transition like this should go, or could go:
   -- Montoya jumped into stock cars in late 2006, ran two ARCA races, four Nationwide races, and made his Cup debut in the Homestead finale (crashing in a battle with Ryan Newman).
   -- Montoya then ran the full Cup tour in 2007, plus 17 Nationwide races. His first Cup race at this track he finished 26th, after a 19th at Daytona, and he followed the next week with a 22nd at Vegas.
    Another issue --  just how much impact Patrick has had here, despite the considerable PR push around her, is unclear. The Saturday crowd was again small, maybe 30,000, in a 90,000-seat stadium.


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The brutal facts are

The brutal facts are Danifraud is in over her head. She has gotten superb equipment in both IRL and NASCAR and conistently does less with more. Contrary to the spin cycle, she was uncomfortable and noticeably clueless at Daytona, needing more guidance in drafting more than most rookies need; she was clearly afraid to race other cars and it all ended in a wreck, certainly not of her doing but symptomatic of her lack of ability.

Danica Patrick is a model who decided to become a racecar driver. That is the bottom line.

STP43FAN - The brutal fact is


The brutal fact is that you are clueless. Danica had been racing since she was a child. She isn't a "a model who decided to become a racecar driver". You can think she's overrated all you want but at least use some common sense when dumping on her. Danica has never said that she was going to come to NASCAR and win everything. You are just looking for an excuse to dump on her so it makes you feel better about yourself. You obviously have a double standard because the 43 hasn't won anything in years and you still support them.

Anonymous, before you lecture

Anonymous, before you lecture anyone about common sense you need to figure out what the term means. "Danica has been racing since she was a child." Yeah, right. If she really has been racing since she was a child then she would not be getting rides based on soft-porn modeling. "Danica has never said that she was going to come to NASCAR and win everything." If she's not racing to win then what is she doing here? And "to feel better about yourself" is the standard that applies to Danica's defenders, not to her critics - her critics are simply using some level of objectivity to gauge whether she's worth taking seriously - and the fact, a fact you can't refute, is that she lacks talent to race and gets opportunities because of being a soft-porn model who decided to become a racecar driver.

I don't understand why she is

I don't understand why she is "shocked" that she is underperforming. Maybe it's because everyone has been kissing up to her. She has always had top flight equipment yet has always posted mediocre results and Indycar is not half as competitive as Nascar. Since Las Vegas is an easier track to drive I predict that if she doesn't crash racing with the other backmarkers the media will be praising her 28th place finish as if she is the greatest thing since...

Did anyone really think she

Did anyone really think she was going to fare better than Villanueve or Franchitti in a stock car? I mean, those guys were champions where they came from. Danica won a fuel mileage race ONCE in an IndyCar race to warrant her deserving a shot at Cup. Her ARCA finish at Daytona was more due to the fact that she had Cup-level funding in a lesser series than it was due to her talent level in a stock car. Hopefully, these continual bad finishes will make her and the media see the light and stop the overwhelming coverage. Maybe somebody deserving will get the seat she is currently occupying.

What else could be expected?

What else could be expected? When she first started talking about NASCAR she wanted to jump directly to Cup. Little lady, big ego, moderate talent. The learning won't be pretty.

I am already sick of all of

I am already sick of all of the attention she gets simply for showing up. When she proves herself a contender, give her some airtime. Until then please quit shoving her down my throat. thanks.

You must have forgotten that

You must have forgotten that every time Tony Stewart would get into the Shell Car he wrecked it - short memory ??

I don't know why she's all

I don't know why she's all pouty after the race...

Somebody needs to sit her down and say "Look, comeback when you can do something in lesser equipment and get a better "feel" for the car." PERIOD!

I blame NASCAR more than anybody because TRUE FANS knew this was gonna happen. She's no TONY STEWART. She's just like STP43FAN said, "A model who decided to become a racecar driver".

Meanwhile, Alli Owens gets no love....

Oh, by the way, didja kno'

Oh, by the way, didja kno' Kelly Bires finished 7th in the race and started 32nd?

For all the Danica haters out

For all the Danica haters out there get over yourselves. This woman is as green to driving these cars as any rookie that one would expect to struggle.
Would you all feel better if she was ugly as sin and spit chew like a red neck?
Time will tell, my guess is she will get it together and when she does these haters will be whining about some other contrived bs like its another conspiracy.
One fact no one can deny the ratings are over the roof for one reason only Danica Patrick!

She's driving a Hendrick

She's driving a Hendrick Motorsport car with arguably the best Nationwide crew chief. She should have had no problems whatsoever. I have absolutely nothing against her making it in any racing series. Everyone raves about a 6th place finish in a real minor league and anyone who doesn't realize that her car was infinitly better then any other car on the track doesn't know anything. Kyle Petty won the first race he ever ran. Where, Daytona and what series, ARCA. Furthermore she hasn't set the IRL on fire either as far as the racing goes. However when it comes to playing to the media she may be the best ever. Please remember that the IRL, aside from Indy, has trouble getting a 1.0 tv rating so her being the most popular doesn't really mean much since their fan base is so small. And I wonder how popular she would be if she didn't appear near nude in several photo shoots. If she doesn't show anything in Vegas it's adios Danica. It's a performance driven sport and fans will leave just as fast as they arrived. She doesn't have to win or even finish in the top 15 but she does have to dice it up a bit and pass some cars.

Had her move been done

Had her move been done without all the hype and hoopla, we'd be having a different discussion right now. But between her own media machine and the spinmeisters at NASCAR, she is not living up to the hype we've had shoved down our throats for the last 2 years. Her slapping the boom mike and stomping away in petulant hissy fit reminds me of another driver who does the same thing when he doesn't do well.

Danica mania is as maddening

Danica mania is as maddening as Jr. Earnhardt mania. Lets see how many races has Jr. won in the past 3 yrs. oh yeah 1 at MI. Yet he is treated like a rock star by his fans and think nothing of all the hype. I dont get it, fans hate Jimmy Johnson for winning, Danica for being a hottie and adore Jr. for losing. Go figure!

Juan Pablo Montoya is a great

Juan Pablo Montoya is a great example when you look at Danica Patrick. JPM was at the top of his game when he came over from F1, easily one of the top 3 to 5 drivers. When he jumped ship to Nascar full time in 2007 he was mediocre at best. It took him till last year to really become a continual front runner and he is still not even in the greatest equipment. Now.... On to Danica Patrick. She is in the best equipment money can buy (next to Penske) in IRL. She has one win in IRL where she has eaced since 2005. That one win was a fuel mileage win, if no one else would've had to pit she would've finished 6th. Very, very mediocre indycar driver. Now she jumps into an ARCA car at Daytona where she had the best equipment money could buy (hands down). I was at this race and watched it in person. She did a decent job at running in the back of the front runners for most of the day. She finished 6th at one of the easiest tracks on the circuit. Tons of downforce and you hold your foot down and don't let off. Nationwide race she was caught up in a big wreck, nature of the beast that is Daytona. Then onto California where there is no downforce whatsoever and you have to know when to brake and how to drive a car. How does she do? She is lapped in the first 20 something laps and hangs on for a 31st place finish 4 laps down. If she is lucky she may be able to work her way to being a mediocre Nascar driver in the next 3 to 4 years. Great for PR and ratings which i'm grateful for, being a fan of nascar for the past 26 years, but that doesn't mean that I have to cheer for her and hope she does well because she's a woman or any other crap like that.Alli Owens is a great female driver who I hope makes it one day, Erin Crocker had amazing talent just not the looks and Sarah Fisher has more talent than all of them just no equipment. So, yeah, this was long winded I know, but it's been eating at me for awhile now so there, now I feel better!

great stuff, keep

great stuff, keep writing....that's what this site is about, feedback; i just try to throw in some facts and opinion and create reaction.
yes danica isnt setting the world on fire, but then it's all about practice, testing, practice, testing. and after vegas she vanishes till june at loudon? heck, how's she even going to make the field there? work ethic. montoya showed it. where's danica's?
and i think alli is going to make it; she's got a plan and she's working at it. i've been trying to find time to finish a story i've been doing on her....erin, very talented, but sidetracked; needs to regain her focus. and i really though richard childress blew it when he dropped her and duncan. he had something going and just gave up. bad move.
i've been to the lyn st james thing at indy several years running now (still trying to write all those stories), and there are a lot of talented female drivers out there....but corporate america and the tv networks are pretty much zeroes in all this.
the nascar diversity thing, i'm afraid, isn't getting any traction....
but at least chevrolet put some money down on the table for danica. why hasn't ford done something more with female drivers?

Just as a point of

Just as a point of information, Danica's IndyCar ride is inferior to two teams, not just one, as one poster said. The two are Penske (as noted) and Ganassi. Those two multi-car teams win the championships and most of the races.

oh, yes, and i'm surprise

oh, yes, and i'm surprise nascar hasn't leveraged the indy-car angle in all this....but then there is something strange about the nascar-indy relationship....

The picture ... would make

The picture ... would make the point that NASCAR needs to allow newcomers to this sport more practice time and testing time.

Isn't that what ARCA, the truck series and the Nationwide series are for: to allow newcomers the opportunity to develop before stepping to the next level?

yes, but its all about

yes, but its all about testing, and nascar bans testing for all three series...and you can't learn much in 90 minutes of friday practice....if you're a rookie, you should get to test as much as possible...not only does that help the driver, but it is an incentive for a team to hire a rookie, a good rookie. IMHO. does that make sense? i dont know, but i think so....

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