"Oh, great," the Danica Patrick haters are likely grumbling right now. "Another article where some clueless hack makes up a load of crap to defend NASCAR's new star property. Media saturation protecting its biggest story and trying to find a way to get hits."
"No, but read it!" the Patrick defenders will exclaim. "Lots of things this season haven't been her fault! See? SEE?!?!"
As always, of course, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. No, Patrick hasn't been "great" this season in the way that her media superstardom and major sponsorship should dictate. But she also hasn't been the "stale as flat champagne" driver that ESPN.com's Jemele Hill called her last week.
The key is to cut through the hype and set reasonable expectations for what is Patrick's first completely NASCAR-centric season, after two years of jumping back and forth between stock cars and IndyCar. While her GoDaddy deal complicates the perception, the truth is that Patrick is a development driver who is taking things slow in order to try and get it right.
Remember, NASCAR is a different discipline of racing than she's been competing in for over a decade, and much more accomplished drivers have struggled to make the transition. (The name "Juan Pablo Montoya" should ring a bell there.)
Here's a hefty dose of truth about Patrick's season and why we shouldn't be so early to jump to conclusions about her: