Monday, May 26, 2008

Time For Danica's Attitude Adjustment

"Danica Patrick entered the Indianapolis 500 with confidence in her abilities and her Andretti Green Racing crew.

But once the checkered flag waved at the 92nd running of "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing," she looked ready to pick a fight — no matter whether it was another driver or a member of her own team.

The 2008 Indy 500 appears set to go down as one of Patrick's career lowlights. While not considered a favorite, she certainly had a fair chance to become the first female to win IRL IndyCar Series' premier event. Her shot at history ended in chaos, however, when Ryan Briscoe ran into her on pit road with 29 laps remaining.

With her car's rear suspension mangled beyond repair, the 5-foot-2 racer got out of the car and went straight for Briscoe's Team Penske pit stall. If not for security crews directing her away from her destination, she may have tried to go through every one of them to get to their Australian driver.

"It is probably best that I didn't get down there anyway, isn't it?," she said after the race.

Up to that point, Patrick was creeping toward the front, but it was clear that her No. 7 Andretti Green Racing machine simply didn't have the speed to battle with eventual winner and polesitter Scott Dixon and the other front-runners. She ran as high as sixth during the 200-lap contest but couldn't advance from there, and she let her team know her displeasure.

"I am slow," an angry Patrick said over the radio with about 60 laps left. "I am damn slow!"

Patrick's lack of speed was a sore point for her throughout the day as she complained repeatedly over the matter before rising to her best position of the race.

When she came into the pits for what would be her final stop, her chances of winning were slim. After running into Briscoe, they were zero. Her anger boiled over.

Patrick may or may not be right in her beliefs about her race-ending accident, but with her attention-grabbing march toward the Penske pits, she gave her critics more ammunition to back their assertions that she is nothing more than an over-hyped, under-talented driver that turns petulant when things don't go her way.

Even more surprising was how she let her AGR crew know about her lack of speed on race day. Patrick has always been an emotional racer, but why couldn't she communicate her frustrations in a better manner than what a worldwide television audience heard earlier this afternoon?

It can be chalked up to Danica being Danica. It can be chalked up to the pressure of winning the biggest race of the season. No matter what, though, even if you're justified, it's best for every driver to give his or her crew respect. You would think that she'd have that lesson down pat, especially after winning her first race in April at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan by way of a diabolically good fuel strategy from her engineer Kyle Moyer.

What started out as a day of promise and optimism degenerated into frustration for Patrick — and perhaps the IndyCar Series as well. After hyping the Illinois native throughout the month, their audience ended up seeing her be a non-factor in the race and then almost set off a smackdown. Good first impression of the reborn Indy 500. For sure."

At 5' 2" and 100 lbs soaking wet its a good thing she didn't sneak past security and wind up a smudge on the asphalt. Not that Briscoe is any Paul Bunyon, but with 45 lbs on her and the strength of a triathlete it wouldn't have been much of a contest. A man gets in another man's face and one of two things happens; he knows how far he can go or is prepared to tussle. That seems to be one of the biggest complaints about Patrick, her relying upon her gender to get away with far more than she should, both on and off the track. There are plenty of times the crush of bodies part to allow men to fight off the frustration but it isn't happening with her and she flaunts it.

Other drivers can complain all they want about her illegal lane blocking maneuvers for example, but the officials are under a lot of pressure from the sponsors, she knows it, and also knows that an enraged racer isn't going to take matters into his own hands by playing Dribble the Danica. I don't buy the snipe that she isn't talented enough to win without cheating, but am getting awfully tired of 2008, the year of the entitled woman.

Male drivers with similar anger management problems are excoriated, given uncomplimentary nicknames, fined, and can lose a tooth or two if they don't shape up. Maybe its time for them to at long last let her get past security and discover the consequences of her actions.

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