Indy Notes: Bad Day For Danica
By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
Indianapolis – The racing world has seen a charming Danica Patrick, and an angry Patrick and a joyous Patrick. Saturday afternoon at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the racing world got to see a shaken Patrick.
Such is the effect of having a horribly handling race car at 225 mph.
“I was shaking for minutes,” Patrick said after climbing out of her Andretti Autosports car following her qualifying run.
The problem has been a loose car. Really loose. So loose that after she saw teammate and former Indianapolis 500 pole winner Tony Kanaan spin and crash during his qualifying run, Patrick said she was not a bit surprised.
“We’ve been loose all month,” Patrick said. “It’s just not there. We trim it out and it gets worse. Our car is just totally skating across the track. This is disappointing. None of us are OK with this.”
Not the car, she said. It’s the setup.
From pit lane, she said during an interview which was broadcast over the public address system at the track, “I wasn’t flat out the last two laps and I was scared to death flat on the first two. I’ve never been bad here before. I’ve never been outside the top 10 on a finish or qualifying, so, it’s not my fault. The car is not good.”
Apparently Patrick’s explanation did not set well with the large Pole Day crowd. Her word provoked a cascade of boos from the front stretch grandstands.
That left her shaken as well.
“It blows me away,” she said, shaking her head and remarking that it was the same fan base who used to cheer her every move.
Patrick will start next Sunday’s race in the middle of the eighth row.
She said she expects, “A lot of buffeting, a lot of moving around” when she starts that far back.
Tempting offer: Dario Franchitti was still attempting to recover from a long, exhausting afternoon of qualifying when he was asked his opinion about offering a $20 million bonus to any driver who could win the Indy 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 on the same day.
“I got mixed feelings about it. It’s a great deal of money, no doubt,” Franchitti, who has raced both Indycars and NASCAR cars. “It would be very tough. For guys in Cup to come up here and get two weeks of testing, the top guys would get reasonably close. It’s that next (little bit, he said holding his thumb and finger about a half inch apart). It’s that tightrope we have been talking about.”
Women on track: Three female drivers earned entry to this year’s 500 on Saturday and two more could make it in on Sunday.
Five females in the field would be a record. It would also do serious damage to women drivers’ status as curiosity items.
The fact is, Penske Racing driver Ryan Briscoe said, women have become an accepted part of the IndyCar Series.
“I think so, for sure,” Briscoe said when asked if having women in the fields has become a non-issue. “They’re all doing such a great job. I think it’s great. It opens up the sport to so many more drivers.”
In the field as a result of being among the 24 fastest on Pole Day are Ana Beatriz (qualified 21st), Simona DeSilvestro (22nd) and Danica Patrick (23rd).
Still hoping to qualify on Bump Day Sunday are Sarah Fisher and Milka Dunno.
Hot time: As so often happens at Indy, weather conditions played a big role on Saturday.
High winds made the going tricky and may have played a part in a couple of early-day crashes. Two of those crashes – including Kanaan’s – occurred near Turn Two.
“I think the problem is the tail wind going into (Turn) Two,” Justin Wilson, who was not one of the crashers, said.
Then there was the heat. The sun came out and the temperatures creeped up into the 80s for the first time this week.
Several drivers said that was tough on their efforts.
“That’s Indianapolis,” Dan Wheldon said. “You’ve got to be on top of your game and cover all your bases. That’s all part of it.”
– Jim Pedley can be reached at email@example.com Comments