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Opinion: Danicamania Grinding To An Awkward Conclusion

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Thursday, September 14 2017

Danica Patrick says she needs a team that can help her win races.
(RacinToday/HHP file photo by Harold Hinson)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

If Danica Patrick is looking for the perfect sponsor as she seeks a new Cup Series ride, she may want to make a deal with Isotoner gloves. That company could then adopt a slogan along the lines of: The gloves that protect the most oft-used pointing fingers in the sport.

In a telephone interview with ESPN.com’s Bob Pockrass this week, Patrick talked about her impending departure from Stewart-Haas Racing after the 2017 season. And as usual, the reasons for losing her gig at the top-tier team were the fault of others.

They were the fault of SHR, basically.

The team, she inferred, was less than aggressive in securing her sponsorship next year: “There wasn’t a lot of push to make it happen, but it’s OK,” the 35-year-old Patrick said of finding a company or companies willing to spend $20 million on a driver who has zero wins in 180 Cup starts, 115 IndyCar starts and 61 Xfinity starts.

Patrick also inferred that SHR’s people failed to make her cars go faster.

“It takes people,” Patrick told Pockrass, one of the few solid pros covering the sport. “In NASCAR, you’re better off with a group of guys or girls that are working day and night and diligently for you. It is a hard job. … The workload it takes to be competitive at the Cup level is relentless.

“I feel bad for them, but that is what it takes. If you have a group of people willing to work that hard, you’re better off at a second-tier team than a first-tier team that has a group of people who doesn’t care about you.”

Say what? Was Patrick actually insinuating that her team was not working hard enough to get her to victory lane or even top-10 finishes?

“At times,” Patrick said. “I don’t think it’s always constant. At the Cup level, I partially blame just how difficult it is, the workload challenge of it – it’s wide and deep, especially at Stewart-Haas, where it’s a crew-chief driven team where the crew chief makes all the calls and the car build and how it is and what setup ultimately goes on it.

“There are no two cars identical at the shop. … There are times when the envelope gets pushed and I yell and scream loud enough and sometimes things go a little bit better. But, I think at times, it’s also been very average. There’s been a mix of both.”

Finger pointing has been a trademark of Patrick’s. Poor finishes, crashes during races, run-ins fellow competitors in infields have very often been the fault of everybody but the person in the mirror. She has proclaimed that often and loudly.

She wore out her welcome in Indycar in 2010 with such proclamations. After a poor qualifying effort for that year’s Indianapolis 500, Patrick pointed her finger at her team, saying she had an “absolutely awful” race car and said “it’s not my fault.” The remarks were made during an interview that was being broadcast live on the track’s PA system and the response from the fans at Indy was a rolling tidal wave of booing.

Shortly after, it was on to stock cars.

She was met hardy handshakes and was paraded aloft as a savior.

Even though consistent success eluded Patrick when she was driving for event- and championship-winning teams like Rahal Letterman and Andretti Green, she was an immediate fan fave in NASCAR.

But that began to sour as mediocrity on the track and Patrick’s finger pointing began to grate on her stock car followers. Racing, as much or even more so than other sports, is a team sport. In racing, as much or more so than in other sports, fans know the value of selfless team work as those guys with wrenches in their hands and 80-pound gas cans on their shoulders get little money and less glory.

Racing fans, as much or more so than fans in other sports, feel that extremely wealthy drivers had better be spot-on perfect behind the wheel before they have the right to call out the worker bees.

One place Patrick cannot point a finger is at NASCAR or its media partners. She has been treated with unwavering and undeniable deference by the series’ media partners. Every time she would inch toward the top 10 in a race, TV announcers and analysts would coo. It’s what partners do for each other.

The public had been constantly mis-served to misplaced assurances that Patrick was maturing as a driver, that a comfort level had been reached between her and team and success was just a race or two away.

The gushing and optimism has slowed in recent years. And not just in the media and by people who desperately would love to see Patrick become the savior of a sport in decline. Sponsors – first Go Daddy and now, in controversial fashion, Nature’s Bakery – have concluded that Patrick is never going to become a top-tier driver or top-tier product pusher.

Opinions vary the reasons of why Patrick has never been able to reach that top tier.

Perhaps it connected to the reason why she became a top tier finger-pointer; it’s an anger thing. Racing requires, yes, aggressiveness. But it also requires the ability to harness aggressiveness. Controlled fury, I believe, is the appropriate cliche.

Patrick has not gotten the controlled part.

She told Pockrass this week that she is not interested in signing with a team that cannot her become a winner.

That team may not exist. If it did a couple weeks ago, it may have closed its doors to Patrick in the wake of the Pockrass interview and finger pointing contained within.

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Thursday, September 14 2017
11 Comments

11 Comments »

  • Steven says:

    Great article ! Hold on though. Despite an obvious lack of talent and a selfish attitude I can only hope she doesn’t find another horny billionaire to bribe a car owner into giving her a seat. The attention she has received by NASCAR and the fawning media makes be sick when I think of the talented women drivers of the NHRA who are true winners.

  • doug says:

    What a bunch of losers…you are the reason the sport died.

  • doug says:

    2nd most popular driver in nascar. Both her and the 88 are done….enjoy the suck. No one cares.

  • JD Fast says:

    One of the best Danica articles that I have read. Never her fault and if she thinks she had things bad at SHR is the fool that I thought she was. Danica was driver only lacking the heart and knowledge to be a true racer. She was given the best of the best and failed to take advantage of the situation. She did however (for a while) make a lot of money for herself and SHR until everyone found out just how bad she really was. The shine is off and Danica will just be another foot note in the failing NASCAR history book. Let me see if I got this right. In her six year cup career, he had 7 top 10’s and a pole at Daytona where she simply kept her foot on the gas and the crew chief set up the car great. 1.1 top 10 finishes in 6 years. Some career. Guess its not her fault. Substandard equipment, poor pit crews and crew chief, poor organization of the team, lack of communication, etc. Can you say below average driver? I can, I will and have.

  • Scott Marek says:

    Wow… I don’t know who is more delusional with the excuses….?
    Danica Patrick or Hillary Clinton….

  • Budreaux says:

    Kyle Petty said it best about Danica Patrick. She can drive race cars fast, but she’s not a racer.

    Even the greatest finger pointer of all time, DW, finally realized that it was on him and solely on him.

    Danica has no one but herself to blame for her departure from SHR. She had a top tier ride and proved that she didn’t have to talent required to deserve that ride.

    Good-Bye Danica and good riddance.

  • Jeff says:

    BRAVO! Finally an article written the way I like it. Full of the truth. I am sick to death of these puff pieces fawning over danica and saying basically that she sucked, but hey, not bad for a girl! Ridiculous. I thought the whole idea was for her to beat the boys at their own game. To be treated as an equal. To be a driver, not a female driver. Now that she has failed miserably, that is all anybody can find nice to say about her. That was not why she came to nascar. Her defenders, who can’t use her stats to defend her, instead attack the messenger. They call you misogynist, hater, and claim that you couldn’t drive like she does so shut up. Then they bring up the fact that she finishes better than 15 or so of the back marker teams that spend less in a year than SHR spent on her just for one race. Hilarious. I personally have no problem with women drivers. It would be great to have a talented female come in and compete. I believe there are women out there who can. Part of it was the fact that danica was over hyped. The rest was self-inflicted.
    Now, for danica to point the finger of blame at SHR is not a huge surprise but it is incredibly dumb on her part. Helen Keller could see through danica’s whiny excuses. That is not a good look for her when she is under the impression that she can attract a new team and sponsors, which only proves she is delusional. No team or sponsor is going to touch her with a ten foot pole. After the nature’s bakery fiasco and lawsuit from SHR, It would appear that nature’s bakery had a very valid case in dropping danica as the settlement allowed NB to only sponsor four races for the rest of the season, and their name went on the 14 car, not danica’s. What kind of sponsor is going to sign up for a possible replay of that nightmare. Don’t forget that it was danica was endorsing competing products that caused NB to pull out of their sponsorship deal. Now for the last nail in danica’s cup career. What team is going to do more to “help her win” than SHR did? She had top tier equipment and a top tier team. She was unable to give any real kind of feedback to the crew chief and anybody who has listened into her radio communications knows she didn’t have a clue what she was doing and didn’t care to learn about the cars. She wanted to show up and drive the car. Period. She admitted so herself. So what team is going to “help her win” and support her all the way and pay her tons of money to only be thrown under the bus when she she still sucks? These teams and team owners are not stupid. They know talent when they see it. She proved she ain’t got it. So this classless act of pointing the finger and taking a parting shot at SHR is assuring that her cup career is done. As if it wasn’t already. All I can say to danica is adios and good riddance. Let’s bring on some female drivers with real talent and class.

    • Scott Marek says:

      Jeff…. Your assessment is spot on …

      • Jeff says:

        Thanks Scott. Even though these are all tricks straight out of danica’s worn out playbook as far as blaming anybody but herself, I feel the need to call it like I see it. I wonder if Tony Stewart would like to change his glowing endorsement of her in his farewell statement to her now that she has thrown him and that team under the bus. I bet he would not be so kind now.

  • Chris Lanko says:

    The very first article that is speaking the truth about what a disaster this “supposed driver ” .Thank you for writing this and for posting it. All there has been as been “fluff pieces about her and what she has done for the sport.I wonder if Kevin and Tony are going to stand by her now that the truth about how she feels about the team that brought her in to NASCAR.If I was her pit crew team,I’d be doing anything possible to show her what a lousy crew could do for her final 10 races.As was stated on here,it was always someone else’s fault ,never hers.Now she is saying that she is going after Austin Dillon for moving her out the way at Richmond. I don’t think a “serious finger wave “will scare him. But if she does plan on getting revenge on him,BEWARE. He’s not loke Hamlin who will let her push him around. The 3is in the playoffs and if he get’s wrecked by her,I bet it will be the first time on t.v. that a nascar driver clocks her.And the roar from real race fans will be heard around the world.