Tonight at Chicagoland Speedway Danica Patrick starts what will be the rest of the races in her Nationwide Series rookie campaign.
Other than her ARCA Debut, Patrick’s initiation into NASCAR racing hasn’t been all that great.
Along the way there have been some frustrations, some crashes and some harsh words, mostly directed at other drivers who she feels got in her way.
Her last race, at New Hampshire was pretty much the same.
Early into the race she got tangled up with Morgan Shepherd and ended up spinning her car. She would finish the race five laps in arrears.
Shepherd finished eight positions higher.
Patrick had some harsh words to say about Shepherd. Basically a regurgitation of the same harsh words she’s leveled at other drivers and her crew at one time or another. In all fairness, she has apologized once or twice for her words.
After the race she made a statement by introducing her car to Shepherd’s on pit road.
This type of behavior isn’t exactly foreign to Patrick. Her antics in the IRL have been well documented and parallel her behavior at New Hampshire.
It’s time Patrick takes a good look at what lies ahead for her in NASCAR.
Morgan Shepherd does not have the giant Pez dispenser of cars like Patrick does. Using your car to pick on the little guy isn’t making a statement; it’s making a fool of yourself.
Morgan Shepherd doesn’t have the sponsor dollars you have, or the endorsements, or the unlimited resources.
He does however have respect.
He’s liked well enough by the other drivers that they buy him tires, fuel and parts for his race car. They do what they can to help him race each week.
Shepherd has run more races than the number of months Patrick has been alive. He deserves the respect that she, a driver who has spent less than 40 hours in a Nationwide race car, demands.
Your time in a Nationwide car is short, you are, for all practical purposes, just passing through.
Make the best of it, learn everything you can and leave the drama to the others. You will need friends and respect at the next level.
There are several key items inside the cockpit of a race car. Most notable are the driver, accelerator and brake. Any one of these three items, used either alone or together, could have avoided the incident with Shepherd.
I assure you Sprint Cup teams and drivers take lots of notes.
Patrick’s time spent in the IRL is what paid the ticket for her to be in the Nationwide series. Using the guidelines set down by NASCAR, if she were any other driver at this point, she would not be allowed to drive in the Nationwide series without first spending time in the lower tiered K&N series.
It’s time to settle down and give this a chance. Patrick has the car, the backing, the talent and certainly the ability to win a Nationwide race. It might not happen overnight, as we have seen, but it can happen.
Put some faith and trust into the guys who do the work under the hood. Give the other distractions a week off. Tell the marketing people and the public relations people and who ever else are stretching you from end to end that this week, and next, you’re concentrating only on what’s inside the track, nothing else.
NASCAR fans are fickle. They tire easily. You don’t have to win races, or even be that competitive to be popular (your boss can attest to this), but you do have to be respectful.
Survival in this business, on both sides of the fence, requires a certain level of respect.