Saturday, March 03, 2012

Early Lessons For Danica Patrick

Danica Patrick has pegged her first full season of NASCAR Nationwide Series competition as a learning experience. Based on the first two races of the 2012 campaign, there are indeed some lessons that need to be learned.

Ms. Patrick is NOT amused
LESSON ONE: You haven’t been here long enough to lecture anyone.

Patrick crashed out of last weekend’s Nationwide Series opener at Daytona International Speedway after an ill-timed attempt at bump drafting by JR Motorsports teammate Cole Whitt. Whitt apologized repeatedly over his in-car radio, and again to the media following the race. That did not curb the wrath of Patrick, however, who responded to Whitt’s in-person attempt at an apology with a verbal tongue-lashing in which she reportedly told Whitt – in pointed terms – that he did not have enough experience to attempt such a move and needed to give her “more room” on the race track. 

For the record, Patrick has just 28 career starts in NASCAR’s three national divisions; 27 in Nationwide and one in Sprint Cup. The “inexperienced” Whitt, meanwhile, has taken the green flag 33 times in his NASCAR career: five in Nationwide, 26 in Trucks and two in the Sprint Cup ranks. Generally, NASCAR drivers wait until they’ve got a season or two under their competitive belt before giving driving lessons to their less-experienced brethren. Even then, they usually confine their remarks to drivers who have less stock car experience than they do, not more. 

LESSON TWO: Sullen Doesn’t Sell.

In her brief NASCAR career, Patrick has already become adept at blowing off the media. After her Daytona Nationwide Series wreck, she climbed from her Chevrolet, stomped immediately into the team’s transporter and dispatched a public relations representative to inform the waiting media horde that she would not comment until the event was over. In the Daytona 500, she sat in her crumpled Chevy for nearly 70 laps while her crew attempted repairs; window net affixed in the universally recognized symbol for “leave me alone.” A 21st-place finish at Phoenix International Raceway today once again saw the GoDaddy girl offer only cursory comments to the media.

There’s no law requiring Patrick (or any other driver) to speak to reporters. But as an athlete whose brand arguably is longer on marketing than actual on-track success, she should realize the value of submitting herself to the microphones and cameras, in both good times and bad.

Do NOT call this woman sexy!
LESSON THREE: Be Careful What You Complain About

Patrick earned a slew of headlines at the Daytona 500’s annual Media Day when she complained about the media describing her – and other female athletes -- as "sexy."

"Is there any other word that you can use to describe me?" she asked, eschewing – at least for a moment -- those bikini-intensive GoDaddy commercials and photo spreads in Maxim and FHM. If you’re going to appear in a national men’s magazine; splayed out across the hood of a Lamborghini in barely-there beachwear, be prepared for words like “sexy.” 

They come with the territory.

Danica Patrick is an outstanding racer, with all the tools necessary for a long and successful NASCAR career. She’ll win races in the Nationwide Series this year, and will eventually learn everything necesary to advance to the sport’s highest level; the Sprint Cup Series. She doesn’t ask to be hounded by a merciless crush of reporters and fans, but she’s also savvy enough to exploit “Danica Mania” to its full economic impact. Network television does her no favors by fawning over finishes like today’s 21st-place Phoenix showing at the expense of – say – Cole Whitt and his 13th-place finish. But again, she didn’t ask for that.

At the end of the day, Patrick needs simply to relax, see the big picture and accept the fact that in the wild, wonderful world of NASCAR, not every day is going to be a good day.


  1. Damon8:34 PM

    Danica's run 115 IndyCar races though (including 7 Indy 500's), against the best of the best in her generation and held her own.

    I have no problem with her telling Whitt to back off and just log laps rather than go bump draft crazy and knock her out of the race.

    As for dealing with you guys in the media, she finished 21st and 3 laps down, there's NOTHING to talk about, so go talk to the rest of the drivers in the series, it'll be better for both sides that way.

    1. Anonymous3:21 PM

      Guess Whit took her valuble advice since he finnished 13th and on the lead lap.

  2. My sentiments exactly. You are spot on and hope someone puts this piece in front of her to read. And maybe just maybe she will take something positive away from it!!

  3. Anonymous8:45 PM

    Well said as always

  4. Anonymous9:04 PM

    i agreed up to the point of the typo, where you said she WOULD win this year.


  6. Brandon in TN11:48 PM

    If the first two races of the season are any indicator of Danica's attitude for the year, I can see many people being turned off to her fairly quickly. I'm no Danica hater. I'd love to see her succeed but I can tell you that her ego may kill any chance she has at a Nascar career.

  7. Anonymous12:24 AM

    Well written. I hope she takes it to heart and listens to some sold advice but I fear she won't because her behavior is just as it was in Indy Car. You can't complain about being treated as a sex symbol when she has marketed herself that way from day one. She did it for money and yeah it gave her more opportunities than say Sarah Fischer, who didn't go for the bikini shots, but it also gave a lot of people, including me, reason to doubt her talent. I rarely read about her success and almost always about how sexy she or her marketing campaign is. If she doesn't want to be treated like Racing Barbie, she probably should tell her brand team to knock it off.

  8. Danica, is today's winner and still champion of the "Hissy Fit." Nobody does it better.

    1. Anonymous11:06 AM

      The shrub will give a good run on that one.

    2. Good thought although a hissy fit is normally attributed to the fairer sex.

  9. Anonymous9:29 AM

    I coulden't have said it better myself.Danica needs to be greatful for what she has,most drivers entering this sport do not have the loyal sponsorship and fan base that she is starting out with.Most work long and hard to try to attain those goals.She needs to understand as others have before her that NASCAR was here before she was and will be here after she's gone.If she can figure that out I believe she will be an asset to the sport.

  10. Anonymous10:00 AM

    Good article, but be careful Dave because you may not get the access like DW can with his rosy comments.

  11. Anonymous10:01 AM

    I don't agree that she has all those tools you talk about. I don't know if that is your way of not alienating NASCAR, but she didn't even have the tools to be a winner in INDY. She won one race, in japan because she had just fueled her car and it started raining. The sooner she is gone from NASCAR the better. Let's concentrate on the young girl that is doing better than DP in NASCAR Johanna Long. But nobody wants to write about her. She hasn't yet flashed her near naked body to the sponsors and media. I don't believe DP will win any races, and her career will last as long as the sponsors are willing to dish out the money for 1,2,3 lap down finishes.

  12. Anonymous10:22 AM

    The jig is up, enough is enough, go back to Indycar and let the Cole Whitt's of the world get the attention they deserve.

  13. Very nice story Godfather. That's why I keep coming back

  14. Anonymous1:23 PM

    TV personalities talked yesterday about Casey Rodderick "One who impressed me today was Casey, he didn't get any TV time but he finished on the lead lap in 17th place". No sooner were those words spoken Rusty Wallace jumps on the bandwagon and starts praising The Princess and they had a camera shot of her stopping away. Missed a great opportunity to go interview Casey, I am sure it would have done wonders for him and his sponsers. Clueless media folk, this is not what the fans want. Great talent in NW this year and its Danica Danica, a very good way to alienate hardcore fans. ITs becoming comical watching the TV folk fawn over her, she is not the nice girl they think she is it and it will backfire, to the amusement of us hardcore fans.

  15. Anonymous3:12 PM

    I see the guys in the booth were covering for her again on her 21st finish. "well she had to start in the back. it is hard to pass here, He car was not handling like she wanted"

    why didnt they make a big deal of Dillon's 4th place finish ...

  16. Anonymous3:15 PM

    Danica is a joke. She has never been competitive but has been given a free pass by Indycar and Nascar.

  17. Mr.Moody not trying to argue but when Kyle or Kurt has a fit with a reporter or says something stupid you and others say maybe they should have declined an interview.But when Danica declines to be interviewed immediately after being crashed out twice not of her own doing (maybe because she did not want to say something stupid) you complain that she should do the interview???? Which is it??? Just curious???

  18. Anonymous8:18 AM

    Thank you moody, great points. Nice to see someone express a well thought argument that a lot of people feel but is not the most popular. She can't have it both ways until she earns the right to gain respect by getting results, like finishing a race or finishing on the lead lap. However, she still can drive a race car a heck of a lot better than most of us, definitely me for sure.

  19. Anonymous1:56 PM

    The Nascar Nation is seeing what IndyCar fans have known for a while now.
    Danica has way more style than substance.
    Hopefully the media picks up on this sooner rather than later.

    Robert Y

  20. Dennis5:26 PM

    Johanna Long deserves more attention that she`s getting.

  21. Anonymous12:52 PM

    Amazing, she hasn't ran a full season yet, but most of the media (FOX especially) has been treating her like a season pro with atleast two championships. I'm not a hater, but if she's not atleast in the top ten in Nationwide points by allstar break or sooner, disapointment should be her new title. Popularity, souveneir sales, and looks will only get you so far(ask Jr), you have to produce. Kyle Busch can back up what he says, so can Tony, and the list can go on and on, but in this sport, winning speaks the loudest. that includes "hissy fits"