Danica Patrick: Feisty or Overexposed?
The Indy 500 is starting to get back some of its ol' luster back.
The unification of both American Open Wheel Series (the Indy Racing League or "IRL" and the Champ Car World Series), the Dancing with the Stars victory by veteran driver Helio Castroneves, and the continued presence of Danica Patrick are credited with the revival of the race—and perhaps, the series.
However, while the unification has brought in drivers such as Graham Rahal (the 19-year-old son of Indy legend Bobby) and the well-named Will Power (praying he has a brother named Adam or Max), the hype is still centered around Danica Patrick—and deservedly so.
Patrick is young, attractive, and female in a sport that tends to be dominated by older, foreign men. When you count her win at Motegi Japan earlier this season, the Danica storm just evolved into a Category Five. Patrick was credited with "breaking barriers" in the same fashion that Billie Jean King, racing legend Shirley Muldowney—and if you read between the lines, it almost seemed that she was Alice Paul.
As the Indy 500 rolled around, it was quite clear who the front runners were: Veterans Scott Dixon, Dan Wheldon, Tony Kanaan, Castroneves, Patrick, and her younger teammate Marco Andretti. The rest of the field appeared to be simple field fillers.
But as the race wore on, Danica suffered through an "understeer" problem which has hampered her throughout the season. She was battling anywhere from seventh to tenth throughout the race. She was competitive but didn't have the speed to contend with the others. At one point, Patrick was heard saying "I'm SLOOOOOWWWWW" to her crew chief Kyle Moyer.
But the race started to draw to a close. After what could have been the last series of pit stops throughout the day, she pulled off pit road as normal. However, Penske Racing's Ryan Briscoe appeared to have not seen her until the last minute and collided with her, taking both out of contention for anything.
As a fan, it was quite obvious that Briscoe was to blame and it was a simple "Wrong Place, Wrong Time" situation for Danica. However, after a few failed attempts to get the car rolling, she left her car and started to stride down pit road. There was no stomping or storming, but everyone could tell she was going after Briscoe's team who were still attempting to restart the car. After eventually being scolded by security, she had to leave. Patrick left the area until the end of the race.
Now, this isn't the first time Danica's shown emotion. Take the race at Kansas which preceded the Indy 500. When asked about rookie EJ Viso, Danica made remarks that included "Who is he?" and "he's driving like an idiot."
While those comments may have had substance, let's not forget that Danica is the face of the sport. She isn't the best driver as of now, nor a top-five yet. There was also the incident at Michigan in which she stomped down the track like a little kid and those infamous confrontations between Jacques Lazier and Dan Wheldon.
But Danica gets praised for this it seems. She's deemed "feisty" or "passionate." This is true—but I don't see Dixon throwing his helmet. Even former teammate Dario Franchitti kept a mature face on at times.
While Kanaan and Wheldon have had their moments, none of their's rival Patrick's. Let's not forget that Danica currently has about one win in 10-11 seasons of racing dating, back to Go Karts. Not exactly a great track record.
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