My brain on NASCAR: Patrick more than just a pretty face

All this bellyaching I keep hearing about Danica Patrick is beginning to get on my nerves. It’s everywhere; on the radio, on Internet message boards and in every NASCAR conversation I’ve had since the announcement that Patrick would be a fulltime NASCAR competitor in 2012.

The phrasing is different according to who you’re talking – or listening – to, but the litany of complaints generally remains the same.

The first and perhaps the weakest is that Patrick has had everything handed to her on the proverbial silver platter, and hasn’t earned her way into NASCAR’s top two series.

Where I come from, earning something means working hard to get what you want, and Danica has proven herself to be one extremely dedicated worker.  In a story that should sound familiar to fans of almost every driver in the Cup Series, she began her racing career in go-karts at the age of 10 before moving to England at age 16 to compete in various open wheel series.

Patrick began racing in the IndyCar Series fulltime in 2005, when she was named Rookie of the Year for the season as well as for the Indianapolis 500. In 2008, she became the first woman to win an IndyCar race. She is also the highest-finishing woman in the storied history of the Indianapolis 500.

So we might think open wheel cars look a little funny and she may have been whizzing around “across the pond” rather than spending half her life zipping around dirt tracks on Saturday night, but you have to concede that Patrick has made the effort and put in her time. In fact, as that rare and elusive animal known as a woman in racing, she has been a groundbreaker in many ways.

Another oft-repeated comment about Danica is that she isn’t dedicated to NASCAR. This may stem from an interview a while back in which she was asked if she would ever consider moving from IndyCar to NASCAR. Her response was something to the effect that the NASCAR season was too long, that she didn’t want to race 36 times a year, perhaps making some diehard stock car fans experience a little bit of the “woman scorned” syndrome: OK, if she doesn’t want us, we certainly don’t want her.

But that was a while ago, and Danica – who is still only 29 years old, remember — has matured, and apparently has also discovered that sometimes the grass really is greener on the other side of the fence. She will race more than 36 times this year; in addition to a full Nationwide Series season with JR Motorsports, she will compete in 10 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events, including the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway and the Daytona 500, with Stewart Haas Racing. Also, she announced recently that she will forgo the Indianapolis 500 on Memorial Day weekend in favor of the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Her boss, three-time Cup Series champion and Stewart-Haas Racing owner Tony Stewart, certainly doesn’t seem to question her commitment. “The thing you see in Danica right away is how determined she is to be good at what she does,” he said. “She’s very dedicated to taking the time and effort to make the transition from Indy cars to stock cars. She has talent, she has the right mindset, and she has the proper drive and determination. It doesn’t matter who it is you’re looking for, those are the key attributes that you look for in a driver, and Danica’s got them.”

Rounding out the top three is my personal favorite Danica diss: “She’s nothing but a pretty face.” Really? The reason she can’t be taken seriously as a professional athlete is because she’s good-looking? Are only those who are average in appearance allowed to excel in sports? Someone should share this information with Tom Brady and Maria Sharapova; Kasey Kahne and David Beckham might need to know as well. That’s just silly.

Excellence in athletics is based not on appearance, but on performance. True race fans know what an asset Patrick is to the sport. She should be able to hold her own on the track, particularly in the Nationwide Series. She is polarizing, one of those people who, whether you like her or you don’t, is always going to have your attention. As a role model, she is one of the best examples out there for little girls who dream of being behind the wheel instead of behind a desk. She will bring even more attention to our already wildly popular sport; how is that a bad thing?

If pretty is as pretty does, NASCAR in 2012 may well turn out to be a beautiful thing to see.

NASCAR columnist Cathy Elliott is also author of the book “Chicken Soup for the Soul: NASCAR.” Visit her online at www.mybrainonnascar.com.

 

Image is courtesy of Getty Images/NASCAR.

Comments

comments

Week 0 Previews & Picks: Conway in coaching limbo

Week 0 Previews & Picks: Conway in coaching limboFor the first time in 35 years, a local high [more]

Pelicans' win streak ends; playoff tickets go on sale

Pelicans' win streak ends; playoff tickets go on sale Mike Rucker struck out nine batters over six innings on Wednesday [more]

Kickoff Countdown: Price has right recipe for Sharks

Kickoff Countdown: Price has right recipe for SharksFirst-year St. James High head coach Joey Price put a [more]

Coastal takes regional TV spotlight for UAB contest

Coastal takes regional TV spotlight for UAB contestThe UAB Department of Athletics and Raycom Sports have announced [more]

Kickoff Countdown: NMB looks to ride momentum

Kickoff Countdown: NMB looks to ride momentumThe North Myrtle Beach High football team enters the 2017 [more]

CCU caps brutal exhibition schedule against Clemson

CCU caps brutal exhibition schedule against ClemsonCoastal Carolina’s men’s soccer team took on another top-10 ranked [more]

Kickoff Countdown: Braves riding quality over quantity

Kickoff Countdown: Braves riding quality over quantityIt's safe to say that Socastee High football coach Doug [more]

Pelicans work extra innings to net third straight victory

Pelicans work extra innings to net third straight victory The Myrtle Beach Pelicans won their third straight game for [more]

Pelicans sweep past Dash for fifth consecutive victory

Pelicans sweep past Dash for fifth consecutive victoryStrong starts from Ryan Kellogg and Casey Bloomquist in Tuesday's doubleheader [more]

Kickoff Countdown: `MB's Got Talent' hits TV this fall

Kickoff Countdown: `MB's Got Talent' hits TV this fallMyrtle Beach High football coach Mickey Wilson has heard all [more]

Kickoff Countdown: Tigers have skill to fill roles, holes

Kickoff Countdown: Tigers have skill to fill roles, holesNext man up. It's not only a philosophy the Conway [more]

Chants fall to Tar Heels in exhibition, eye Tigers next

Chants fall to Tar Heels in exhibition, eye Tigers nextCoastal Carolina men’s soccer team opened the 2017 season with [more]

Pearson's blast lifts Pelicans to rare back-to-back wins

Pearson's blast lifts Pelicans to rare back-to-back winsTyler Pearson's two-run home run and Kyle Miller's pitching Sunday [more]

Kickoff Countdown: Young Panthers hold real promise

Kickoff Countdown: Young Panthers hold real promiseThere's a youth movement under way in the Carolina Forest [more]

Paula, Hodges flex muscle, help Pelicans snap drought

Paula, Hodges flex muscle, help Pelicans snap droughtAdonis Paula matched a career-high with four hits while Jesse [more]

Chants take a test drive in first scrimmage of season

Chants take a test drive in first scrimmage of seasonThe Coastal Carolina football team held its 12th practice and [more]

Pelicans tie season-high losing skid at five games

Pelicans tie season-high losing skid at five gamesP.J. Higgins' first inning solo home run proved not to [more]

UPDATE: Rainy conditions cancel CNB Kickoff Classic

UPDATE: Rainy conditions cancel CNB Kickoff ClassicFootball-starved fans along the Grand Strand will have to wait [more]

Pelicans' rally bid falls short on P-Nats' walk-off homer

Pelicans' rally bid falls short on P-Nats' walk-off homerA Zack Short homer in the eighth inning Thursday capped [more]

Lady Chants, Famili earn respect in preseason poll

Lady Chants, Famili earn respect in preseason pollCoastal Carolina senior Daniella Famili was voted the Sun Belt [more]

Ex-Pelican Furcal returns for Fan Appreciation Day

Ex-Pelican Furcal returns for Fan Appreciation DayThe Myrtle Beach Pelicans will welcome back alumnus and former [more]

Myrtle Beach falters, looks to avoid sweep by P-Nats

Myrtle Beach falters, looks to avoid sweep by P-NatsTrent Giambrone's home run Wednesday wasn’t enough for the Myrtle [more]

New faces, familiar funning set stage for Kickoff Classic

New faces, familiar funning set stage for Kickoff ClassicWith apologies to Conway National Bank, the "CNB" Kickoff Classic [more]

Coastal defense must hold firm while offense develops

Coastal defense must hold firm while offense developsThrough nine practices, the Coastal Carolina defense may have slight [more]

MB moves first home game to rival North Myrtle Beach

MB moves first home game to rival North Myrtle BeachThe Myrtle Beach High football team will play two games [more]

Week 0 Previews & Picks: Conway in coaching limbo

Week 0 Previews & Picks: Conway in coaching limboFor the first time in 35 years, a local high [more]

Pelicans' win streak ends; playoff tickets go on sale

Pelicans' win streak ends; playoff tickets go on sale Mike Rucker struck out nine batters over six innings on Wednesday [more]

Comments are closed.

© 2017 Grand Strand Sports Report · RSS
Myrtle Beach Web Design
Kayaking in Myrtle Beach