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Harris: Let’s Give The Woman A Chance

Mike Harris | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, December 22 2009
Ready or not, here comes Danica. Many don't seem quite ready. (Photo courtesy of NASCAR)

Ready or not, here comes Danica. Many don't seem quite ready. (Photo courtesy of NASCAR)

By Mike Harris | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

I could be wrong, but:

I think Danica Patrick will be a success in NASCAR – though it may take a few years.

I have to laugh over the fuss created by Patrick’s decision to give stock cars a try.

The naysayers have come out in force. Why?

I guess they don’t like the idea of a woman racing with their heroes – and maybe beating them. Or maybe the idea that an IndyCar driver could be competitive in stock cars upsets them. Or perhaps they simply don’t like the sometimes feisty Ms. Patrick.

What many people don’t seem to grasp is that Danica, despite her gender  and diminutive size, is 100-percent racer. There are things she enjoys in life besides driving race cars – what she calls “girly things’’ like fashion and cooking – but her main focus at the ripe old age of 27 is racing. And she’s pretty darn good at it.

Granted, she has only one IndyCar win. But Danica is competitive to a fault. And these aren’t the stock cars driven by Junior Johnson or Fireball Roberts. The current cars have power steering and stop a whole lot easier than in the early days of the sport.  You don’t have to wrestle them like a big old bear.

It does take a whole lot of concentration and awareness of those other cars around you at speeds up to 200 mph, but those are traits she has proven to possess in open-wheel racing.

Others have written about her handshake of iron, and I have felt it more than once. And, hey, she isn’t that much smaller than physical fitness buff Mark Martin. Probably doesn’t have much more body fat either.

So give her a chance to make her mistakes and find out if she can be competitive in NASCAR. She might just surprise you. And isn’t it past time for a woman star in the stock car sport?

It seems that some people are blaming Rick Hendrick for Dale Earnhardt Junior’s struggles the past two years.

They say he isn’t giving Junior the best equipment and that he is satisfied simply to reap the benefits of Little E’s popularity and big dollar sponsorships, despite all his talk about trying to make the 88 team competitive.

Baloney!

Rick Hendrick is one of the most competitive people in the sport. Above all, he wants to win. He hasn’t won all those championships by picking and choosing which of his drivers would get the “good’’ equipment.

Hendrick would no sooner settle for letting one of his teams wallow in mediocrity without trying to fix the situation than he would tell people to come on down to his car dealerships and just take any car they want.

And, the final reason Hendrick is doing his best to turn things around for the 88: He genuinely likes Dale Jr. and wants him to succeed.

There has been a lot of talk about whether or not people appreciate what Jimmie Johnson has accomplished in winning four straight Sprint Cup championships.

Johnson may not get the accolades he deserves until after he calls it quits, maybe another 10 or 15 years down the road. By then, folks might actually realize that this guy was something special.

On the other hand, should Johnson win the Cup again in 2010 or just go on to outstrip the seven titles by NASCAR legends Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt, that recognition could come even sooner _  so-called bland personality or not.

Either way, Johnson has already proven to me that he’s one of the best ever.

– Mike Harris can be reached at mharris@racintoday.com

Mike Harris | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, December 22 2009
7 Comments

7 Comments »

  • Ed says:

    Look at Danica’s stats in the IRL. There are 30 drivers listed on the IRL site as current active competitors. Of the 30 drivers, 16 of them have “zero” wins, 6 of them have “1″ win, and the remaining 8 have 2 wins or more. Looks like Danica is right up there with the rest of the guys!

  • Richard in N.C. says:

    I am anxious to see how she can do and hopeful that she can do reasonably well, since I can’t see how her doing well will not help the Nationwide series and everyone in it.

  • Tony Osborne says:

    Steve o

    From what you’ve read?
    I know people who know her and they say she’s one of the nicest people around
    Last year she was pretty angry at times but she’s been really cool this year and said nothing when she had the right to (Matos, Conway)

    As for equipment, the AGR cars have been a mile away from the Target and Penske cars and looking at that she’s done amazing to finish as the top none Penske/Target driver in the points.

    All drivers need to have a high opinion of their skills or it isn’t worth them starting their engines. It’s called arrogance and confidence which a driver needs.

    As for GoDaddy, well that’s no different to the name Marlborough that used to be on McLarens in F1.
    They’re her sponsor and she brings in the money for them so why shouldn’t they invest in her.

  • Don B says:

    Danica has proven herself to be more than a mediocre driver. For the past two years, she has been the top U.S. driver in the IndyCar series and this past season finished fifth in points – ahead of everyone on the Andretti team and only behind the Penske and Ganassi drivers. She has 81 starts, 1 win, 3 poles, 16 top five finishes, 46 top ten finishes and has the best finish percentage of all drivers. She also finished third in the 2009 Indy 500.

    As far as her personality, don’t believe everything you read. On track she is extremely serious and competitive and isn’t afraid to speak her mind. Off the track, she is one of the nicest people you could hope to meet.

  • steve-o says:

    To me it has nothing to do with her being a woman, it is because in excellent Indycar equipment she is mediocre at best. Now, Indycar is not nearly as competitive as Nascar and based on her results I’d say that the only reason she is making the move is because she has a very high opinion of her skills and this has been fueled my money from Go (pimp) Daddy. Her only chance for success this year will be on the ARCA race where here equipnment will be vastly superior.I don’t like her speronally because from what I’ve read she is very arrogant.

    • Marc says:

      steve o So you think Danica, if in better equipment, would be mediocre?

      What do you base, what is essentially a guess, on? The reality is she hasn’t been in “good” equipment since her first year with Rahal/Letterman.

  • Tony Osborne says:

    Well said.
    With better equipment she’d be higher in the IRL standings.
    Also, if other drivers (Matos, Conway, Wheldon) had not hit her last season she would have finished ahead of Hellio.

    So let’s give her a chance guys, after all she was pretty inpressive at the ARCA testing.