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Indy Notes: Bad Day For Danica

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, May 22 2010

Danica Patrick was not happy with her car on Saturday. (Photo courtesy of the IZOD IndyCar Series)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

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 jpedley@racintoday.com

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, May 22 2010
32 Comments

32 Comments »

  • [...] So frustrated that she threw her crew under the bus. “This is the worst car I’ve ever had,” she said, according to USA Today’s Nate Ryan on Twitter. “There’s no stability or grip. It’s just scary, really scary … It’s awful, really awful. I think I’m still shaking.” And when her comments were played over the track PA, she was booed. [...]

  • Jackel says:

    Poor little princess .. it’s not her fault. Perhaps as the person in the race seat she can offer some insight to her engineers on how to improve the car’s handling. Like any professional racing driver would. Instead of relying on someone else to set her car up for her she should take an active role rather than absolving herself of all blame. Over-rated, spoiled, and well past the best before date … I hope Danica does go to NASCAR because I for one am sick of her whiny attitude in INDYCARS

    • Mail Man says:

      C’mon. If it was a Male Driver, then we would all be ok with the comment. Danica has done something to break the barrier of a male dominated sport. Good for her, if she is not happy with something then she should communicate it. Not pleased with how she did it, however, good for her. Learning curve, just like Howard Cosell (sp?) on MNF. Have a blessed Memorial Day!

  • Krooser says:

    Danica Patrick is and always will be a little baby! She has done things of this sort before and is nowhere near the top in her field in maturity. Gerber baby food would be a good sponsor for her.

  • Laura Burke says:

    She can be the flagrant lesbian on the disgusting godaddy.com commercials or the whiny race car driver whose had more help than anyone else since she started. But she can’t be both.

  • Reb Warner says:

    An Accident waiting to Happen
    — Incompetent Driver —-

    “I’m Still Shaking”

    “and it’s not my fault” …
    (Patrick danica’s child like
    remarks over the PA, after pole)

    This women is a danger to the other Drivers on the track!

    She told on her self inthat she freaked out and that she was not
    in control of her car, and mentally incapable of making good decisions at 225 miles an hour,she confirmed her incompetent reasoning, by making the foolish statements to the public.
    (a cry for help)

    This driver has proven there incompetence and ..

    She should be forced to take an mental evalution test.
    It does seem that she is a liability and should not be allowed to drive on a professional track,in such a high risk sport,hence forth.

  • Real Smooth says:

    Did Tony Kanaan come out and say anything? Did he come out and say “I’ve never been outside the top 10 on a finish or qualifying, so, it’s not my fault.”? Tony has 13 IndyCar wins under his belt. I wouldn’t doubt he probably said something to the crew – but not like Danica did

    The magic words were “it’s not my fault”

    You win as a team, you lose as a team. A big reason that Danica and other drivers do so well is that their car is put together nicely, the crew makes adjustments, etc. If the crew needs to work on something, then you don’t say it like that in front of everyone and on the PA System at Indy – and end it with “it’s not my fault.” No wonder she got a chorus of boos after that by the crowd that was there watching

    How many times have you heard other drivers come out and say something like that – in any professional league? No doubt her crew are professionals, as well as every other crew out there … but I’d be willing to bet none of the crews, including the crew chiefs, like to hear “it’s not my fault” coming from their driver

    You plaster them privately and praise them publicly. It’s a team effort, so saying something like “we’ve got a lot of work to do” at the end of the interview would’ve been a lot better

    I’m waiting to see if Tony Kanaan says the same thing about the crew, saying “it’s not my fault”, after crashing today

    People need to just stop blindly supporting idiotic statements for the sake of it, in this case, b/c it’s Danica. I don’t care if it’s a guy or girl making this statement that she did – I seriously doubt Dan Wheldon would say something like this and I doubt Ana Beatriz would either