Are We Really Glad To See Danica Go?

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Again, I feel as if I’ve bounced back pretty well from the second bout with crud in a week. Maybe I pushed this tired old body too much last weekend as I had to attend an outdoor wedding during a cold snap last weekend. This weekend, I have no plans other than watching football and taking it easy. I’m normally very healthy and rarely even have a cold, so to get something to slam me into bed two weeks in a row is something I’m just not used to. Once again, I appreciate the well-wishes and hope that this crud is behind me for good. Anyway, on to more important things…

In the two and a half years I have been doing this site, I’ve covered a lot of topics – many of them on multiple occasions. I’ve written about my childhood memories at the Indianapolis 500 on countless days, as well as my admiration for AJ Foyt, Helio Castroneves and Roger Penske. I have also touched on how tiresome I think Paul Tracy has become on numerous occasions along with the rise and fall of Andretti Autosport and TV coverage of the IZOD IndyCar Series. Not only do those topics intrigue and fascinate me, they tend to spark a lot of dialogue.

One subject I’ve chosen not to spend as much time on as most bloggers; is that of Danica Patrick. It’s no secret that I’ve never been a huge fan of hers, but I have always been aware that her presence may have brought value to the series – so I chose to not gripe about her antics as often as I would have liked.

Well now that Ms. Patrick is heading into possibly her last race ever in an IndyCar, I thought it would be appropriate to at least examine what benefits her presence brought to open-wheel racing and what loss, if any, will be felt in the coming seasons.

When Danica Patrick began her rookie season, driving for Rahal-Letterman Racing in 2005, few outside of the IndyCar community had heard of her. We knew her as an up and coming American driver who had a solid two-year stint driving for Rahal in the Toyota Atlantics series. I say solid because she had five podium finishes out of twenty-four races, but her best finish was a second place in the 2003 season finale. There were no wins, although she finished third in points in 2004. All in all, she had a solid two seasons in Atlantics and she seemed ready to move up. She garnered more attention than most Atlantics drivers because she was (a) an American, (b) a female and (c) attractive; and not necessarily in that order. Adding to the curiosity was the racy photo-shoot she had done for Maxim magazine that had surfaced. There was no nudity, but they certainly were, um, worth a look.

She ran well enough in her IndyCar debut at Homestead, until she got caught up in a late race accident that was not of her doing. Her next races at Phoenix and St. Petersburg were not noteworthy. She seemed to be having a pretty normal rookie season, until the series went to the egg-shaped oval at Motegi where she qualified on the front row. Danica showed her skill and determination early battling Sam Hornish for the lead before eventually settling for fourth. This created the springboard for the month of May that saw the birth of Danicamania.

During qualifying, she caught the eyes of the Indy die-hards with a qualifying run that would have probably put her on the pole had it not been for a bobble on her first lap in Turn One. Although the bobble cost her the pole, her save won the respect of a lot of doubters – including yours truly. The windy and cold conditions that day made it risky to make another run and her car owner, Bobby Rahal, chose to settle for fourth. It was then that we saw our first glimpse of "Bad Danica" as she pouted and pounded the pit wall in frustration. In the space of a few hours, her excellent driving skills and her boorish behavior were both on display for the world to see. Some of us didn’t like the behavior, others did.

By the time Race Day of the 2005 Indianapolis 500 rolled around, ABC/ESPN made sure that the world knew who Danica Patrick was. Her race was a mixed bag – typical of most rookies. We all remember the laps she led due to a gamble on fuel strategy as she wound up fourth. Had Sebastien Bourdais not crashed in the waning laps, chances are she would have run out of fuel – but it made for great television as Todd Harris foamed at the mouth. What most tend to forget was her inexperience on an earlier re-start that saw her spin her tires and take out the entire contingent from Panther Racing – Tomas Scheckter and Tomas Enge – in one spin, while she drove on needing only a new front nose and losing only one position in the process.

Dan Wheldon won the race, but who was on the cover of Sports Illustrated? You guessed it – Danica Patrick. At Texas, Danicamania was at full throttle. She finished thirteenth while Scheckter won, but Todd Harris and ESPN would not allow anyone to take their eyes off of Danica. The month of July saw Danicamania taken to a new level when Danica won the pole at Kansas. She equaled that feat again at Kentucky and Chicago. America had a new hero and IndyCar finally had a star they could cash in on. But "Bad Danica" resurfaced at Fontana, when she allegedly punched driver Jaques Lazier in the safety vehicle after Lazier crashed and took her out. She had won Rookie of the Year at the Indianapolis 500 and for the IndyCar season, but had ruffled more than a few feathers along the way.

It got worse in 2006. No longer was the powerful Honda engine the exclusive domain of a few select teams. Now everyone had it and her Rahal-Letterman team seemed to be on the decline. They switched in mid-season from the Panoz chassis to the Dallara and struggled throughout the season. We were learning quickly that Danica is not pleasant to watch when things aren’t going her way. At Milwaukee that year, she and Dan Wheldon tangled on-track and she let him have it off-track. On camera, we saw Weldon sort of smile while sipping his water-bottle as she went through her tirade. When he had grown tired of her rant, he just turned and walked away only to be grabbed and then shoved by Danica. Many saw this as the sign of a powerful woman asserting herself in a man’s world. Others saw this as another in a growing list of childish acts by Danica. Some interpreted her shoves and punches to fellow drivers as cowardly taking advantage of her gender. It’s a lose-lose situation for a guy. Let her get away with it and you’re a wuss and a laughing stock. Retaliate and you’re labeled as a bully who hits women and you’re the scourge of the earth.

By the end of her second season, Patrick announced she would be leaving Rahal-Letterman and joining Andretti-Green Racing with a three-year, $21 Million deal with Motorola. By this time, her act was wearing thin with many of the die-hard IndyCar fans. Her entourage had grown larger and she carried herself as pretty much of a prima-donna. But we were told she was good for the series. She was bringing in new fans. Young girls all wanted to be like Danica. We were told that without Danica, the series would surely die.

The 2008 season saw more antics from Danica. As she was exiting the pits at Indianapolis, Ryan Briscoe lost control of his rear-end and clipped her ending the race for both. After her crew drug her car back to her pit, she did her infamous stomp down pit-lane – obviously to beat up the dastardly Briscoe, who surely had it coming to him. Fortunately Charles Burns intercepted Danica, sparing Briscoe of a certain pounding. This happened right in front of my seats. On TV, it sounded like everyone was cheering Danica on. What I heard in the stands, was everyone jeering her. SportsCenter loved it. I was not amused. She made headlines again that summer in Mid-Ohio when she and Milka Duno got into it when Danica went into Milka’s pit to confront her about her (lack of) driving skills. Milka responded by throwing a towel in her face. The TV cameras loved it. It got the predictable "Cat-Fight" headlines and everyone had a big chuckle. But was this really the kind of publicity the series needed?

The last five years for Danica at Andretti Autosport have to be considered a disappointment. The team declined dramatically in that time. Whether that is attributable to her presence is debatable. She has won one race, and has had six more podium finishes in eighty-six races with the team. She manages to bring her car home in one piece, but rarely seems to push a car to the limit. Her best finishes have been due to fuel strategy rather than raw nerves and speed. In the meantime, there have been the Sports Illustrated bikini layouts, the obligatory appearances at the ESPY’s and countless cheesy Go-Daddy ads. All of this interspersed with continual drama focusing on every next move.

For years, we have been held hostage by rumors of her moving to NASCAR. To no one’s surprise, she announced this summer that she would be leaving the IZOD IndyCar Series after this season to move to NASCAR full-time. I think, by now, even her biggest fans have grown tired of her attitude and have decided it’s best to part ways. Now that it’s done, is it really for the best? Is this a case of "better watch what you ask for – you just might get it"?

Danica Patrick did bring some new eyeballs to the sport of open-wheel racing. She also made it easier for the current wave of female drivers to make it to this level. Simona de Silvestro, Ana Beatriz and Pippa Mann will probably be joined by another wave headed by Shannon McIntosh in just a few years. But how many of those curious eyes that tuned in seven seasons ago have become IndyCar fans? I’ll bet not that many. She could still bring some viewers to the Indianapolis 500 should she choose to run that race next year, but I’m not sure she will.

But if I had any inclinations to ever defend Ms. Patrick as a spokesperson for the IZOD IndyCar Series, they were dashed this past April. My friend John McLallen and I were roaming the paddock at Barber on the Friday before the race. There was a large groups of special needs kids touring the grounds. We had just met up with longtime commenter Brian McKay, when we suddenly saw Danica and her entourage coming toward us. Just as she was right in front of us, one of the special needs kids called her name for her autograph. She looked back, saw him and looked back straight ahead and walked faster. The kid caught up to her and grabbed her arm. She wheeled around, snatched the card from his hands, scribbled her autograph while walking and shoved it back to him without even looking his way. We then heard her complain to someone in her entourage "My God, I thought he was going to tackle me". The kid lit up like a firefly, but she treated him as a nuisance. Had the TV cameras been rolling, I feel certain she would have behaved differently.

So my personal feeling is to let her go. The TV ratings and race attendances are still so low that I’m not sure we’ll see any measurable difference. Five years ago, maybe – but I think she made more enemies than friends while she was here. The series may actually do better without her. The IZOD IndyCar Series is on an upswing these days. I think Randy Bernard has a plan that will work, with or without Danica Patrick.

George Phillips

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32 Responses to “Are We Really Glad To See Danica Go?”

  1. Bent Wickerbill Says:

    And yes vain mediocrity, do please go gentle or anyway possible into that tintop…

    Cop a walk already…

  2. Danica brought some attention to Indycar, but honestly she brought most attention to Danica. I wish her luck in the taxicabs but now that she’s (almost) gone, it’s time for Indycar to shine the spotlight on the other drivers in the series. Danica knows how to work the publicity machine and in this day and age, that’s as important (unfortunately) as the on-track stuff.

    (I read in Pit Pass today that they’ve gotten rid of the fugly naked guy championship trophy and replaced it with a traditional cup. That little change makes me very happy.)

  3. Is she still here? Man, I thought she had left already!!! I was a fan but lost me by 2009…Nice to know you fell better George.

  4. I can’t speak for any other fan, but I feel like it’s time. You can’t build a series around a single driver, especially to the detriment of other (admittedly less-known) stars waiting in the wings.

    No person is all one thing or all another; there are times when Danica is friendly and accessible, and other times when she’s grumpy and unreceptive. Unfortunately, because she’s so high-profile, the bad times are highlighted—such as her poor behavior at Indy in 2010, when the crowd turned on her after her comments when she was struggling with qualifying.

    Losing Danica might sting in the short run, but in the long run, it will hopefully get the focus back on the entire paddock of drivers, the new car next year, and fresh faces like JR Hildebrand, Graham Rahal, James Hinchcliffe, Martin Plowman, and Simona de Silvestro, as well as accomplished veterans such as Dario, Will, Hunter-Reay, Dan, and TK. None of those drivers are a substitute for her pop culture power, but they can now develop somewhat out of the shadow.

    VERSUS did a good job this season weaning themselves from overly covering Danica in races, but ABC still uses her too much. I get that’s what the casual fan might want, but not to the exclusion of the relevant on-track action. Now we’ll hear on ABC broadcasts about how she isn’t there. ;)

  5. Even on her early upward trajectory, I had (the benefit of, and) relied on the crutch of history for framing her (perhaps unfairly) in reference to the Golden Age of Indycar (roughly early ’70s to mid ’80s) when not one but several great drivers held the spotlight at different times. This shared spotlight seems to have had a multiplicative effect then where attention was exponentially higher because of others rather than limited to one or two at a time. Even then this didn’t seem sustainable for Indycar but little was done outside the ‘Danica story’ for the benefit of Indycar.

    While JR Hildebrand had maybe the most eyeballs on him and coverage for a single event of this entire Indycar season, I doubt 2 in 10 people outside of Indycar’s 140k loyalists, just 4 months on, could name that guy who wrecked in the final turn of the Indy 500 or who won. That is a major problem. One of the most legendary events to unfold in the history of the Indy 500 and almost nobody can name the people involved.

    Zachary, I fear your last line may be truest of all, but I hope against hope that ESPN/ABC proves you wrong.

  6. Even wonderr if Danica were driving for Team Penske, Target Chip Ganassi …… if her ad campaigns would have been as revealing … and with less emphasis placed on her driving skill ? ?

    If Danica were a race official still in the public spotlight, would she be permitted to continue to be involved in her style of ad campaigns…? ?

    Why not ?

  7. carburetor Says:

    While I am generally for anything that will help build the fan base for IndyCar, I am happy to see her leave the series. To me, in the big picture of developing/growing the series, the emphasis needs to be on technology, competition (drivers, teams, sponsors?), and excitement. The distraction of one person’s personal promotional agenda should not/cannot detract from that emphasis. The last few years, it has been obvious that Patrick’s only true ambition is the promotion of herself. While I cannot fault her for that, it does not make the series stronger. She has become analogous to Anna Kournikova’s career on the tennis circuit–nice to look at, great to write and talk about, but questionable in actual talent and competition.

    She’ll do well in NASCAR where her antics will be welcome theater, and her limited talent more tolerable. I for one, am glad that Versus de-emphasized her participation this year.

    • Brian McKay Says:

      “the emphasis needs to be on technology, competition (drivers…”
      Whanica is a driver.
      NASCRAP’s perpetually-losing drivers get promoted and famous and wealthy. And the ‘sport’s’ popularity perpetuates, like wrestling on wheels.
      IndyCar and its sponsors could do better at promoting its racers. I see Servia and Hinchcliffe getting plenty of national press for several months!

  8. I disagree, Losing Danica is a problem. She’s the only driver that has mainstream attention and the only driver that ESPN cares about? Next year will Indycar ever be on sports center? Maybe if someone’s car explodes in a massive wreck, the Indy 500 winner, and that’ll be about it. Indycar never marketed Danica as well as they could have and it would have helped to get her a more “mainstream” sponsors like Target or Macy’s instead of Go-Daddy…

    • Brian McKay Says:

      “Next year will Indycar ever be on sports center?”
      Has Whanica gotten IndyCar much coverage on SportsCenter? Does she win, podium, or crash while trying hard to win?
      Her teammates & Carpenter have won this season…
      Is she first, second, or third in a championship points battle? Does she develop race cars, invent things like HANS and Gurney flap, test tires, test engines, test chassis…? Funny that Princess’s departure coincides with the arrival of a new chassis to develop & race…
      I only see/hear of Whanica on IndyCar shows and racing websites. I don’t see her drawing-in new fans like some up-and-coming racers such as Hinchcliffe & Hildebrand.

    • Bent Wickerbill Says:

      I think it is clear that her talent did not warrant Target or Macy’s… She had Motorola big time, but lost that…
      Truthfully GD is far from what I would want plastered all over my racecar for sposorship, but they are spending very large bucks in both Tintops and Indycar.

    • Could not agree more. Until this series can place more than just Danica in the spotlight, her loss will be serious. Love her or hate her, she moved the needle. No one else in the series does. Maybe someone (or hopefully SEVERAL someones) will come along to do that, but for the moment, the top star, diva that she is, is leaving the stage and going to the SECOND TIER SERIES of NASCAR.

      A couple of years ago, this might have been worse, but fortunately, there are some young drivers that are starting to get noticed, particularly Graham Rahal, J.R. Hildebrand, and Simona DiSilvestro on the distaff side who can get more recognition and enhance the overall roster of the series.

  9. Savage Henry Says:

    That 2008 pit incident happened right in front of me, too. I can tell you that me and the 20(ish) beers I had onboard at that point were wildly cheering, not jeering, for a Danica/Briscoe throwdown right in pit lane. However, after I sobered up I realized that her march down pit road was primarily for the benefit of the cameras and that any sort of altercation would have been a bad thing. After that, her act got old.

    I always rooted for Danica to do well. I think it would have been good for the series if she had been successful. But in the end, I was always disappointed. I think that she has talent, but is not an elite driver. Where some others (TK?) are able to gut it out with a less-than-perfect situation she seems to fade into the background. I’m also disappointed with the way that she has mailed it in this season knowing that she was off to greener pastures.

    I hope she does well in NASCAR but I expect that she’s in it to cash a couple bigger paychecks and then see where her “brand” will take her outside of the car.

  10. George, excellent post. This is the best, relatively bias-free summary of Danica’s Indycar years that I have read. I have a NASCAR fan coworker that has a serious case of Danicamania and I will refer them to this article the next time the topic comes up.

    My problem with Danica has always been that we are rebuilding a series from the remains of the split. Until Bernard, we have been very direction-less, reaching to all kinds of stupid stuff to build the series on: I am Indy, an official spokes-model, etc. For the first few years of Danicamania, she essentially become the foundation of all IndyCar marketing. We all knew that foundation was false. We ignored the Buddy Rice’s and Dan Wheldon’s of the series. We all knew that building a series around one person, talented or not, was putting our eggs in one basket. We can never have another driver bigger than the series. It reached a tipping point, past which, her presence became a hindrance, not a benefit.

    Let’s get her out of here. Let’s enjoy the fact that the series finally has a leader for the first time in the 16 years that I have followed either CART or IRL. Let’s rebuild on a foundation that can last.

  11. You pretty well summed up all my feelings about her, George, almost as if you’d heard my personal rumblings about her. Yeah, she brought some attention, but no, I really never liked her after her behavioral nonsense began to surface. I cheered when she took the lead at the Speedway in ’05, thinking this would be a great boost (and it was, but not what it might have been) to Indy. I hate to imagine just how impossible she would have been had Dan not gone back to the front and won.
    Her presence in Indy Car this season was pushed to the fore only occasionally, in terms of series promotion. A result of her well-documented intentions prior to announcing? Possibly. It’s always pretty obvious how much she fawns for the camera, and it typically comes off as B-grade acting to me. Witness your experience in April at Barber…this is what most everyone can sense to be her behavioral ‘default setting’.
    Everyone seems to have too much sense to push back on The Princess over concerns of negative publicity it would foster…but in my minds-eye, if/when she gets pissy over in NASCAR, it would be pretty amusing to see Delana Harvick put the muscle to her (as Milka Duno might have) if/when she starts a tirade aimed at Kevin.
    I suppose I wish her well as she goes, but I’m not going to miss her one bit in the IICS. I suspect none of the drivers will either.

  12. Point of order: that early bikini photo shoot was for FHM Magazine, not Maxim. Er, or so I heard. I certainly didn’t buy a copy or anything, and I sure didn’t show it to my roommates at the time as “hey, here’s one of those drivers that I follow! Any interest in going to the track now?”

    I fear that I’ve said too much. Could everybody please not mention to Mrs. Speedgeek that I was here today? Thanks.

    • It was the attempted pasting of Carpentier’s face over her body that gave the schtick away. But if the Mrs. hasn’t divorced you yet, she never will, so you’re safe. ;)

    • Funny, Geek. Not so much for Mrs. Geek, but funny…

  13. George, honestly: Do you really think Danica’s antics were all that different from other drivers? I remember Hornish and TK getting into a shoving match after one race, we all know about Helio’s meltdowns these past two years, including one that gave us an eternally entertaining picture of Charles Burns smiling toothily at him going nuts, and pre-split, anyone remember PT’s reputation for “honesty”? Hell…. AJ and ArIe; enough said.

    You may not want to hear it, but you’re displaying a double-standard there. I know she rarely managed to keep her composure and came off as frustrated and angry. So have other drivers. Welcome to professional sports. Tell me how she was worse than other drivers. Because, to be blunt, I only saw the same things from her that I’ve seen from others in the past, and just because there are well behaved drivers in the series (the angelic Vitor Meira comes immediately to mind) doesn’t mean they all are. I know Dani’s no Vitor, or Dario. She’s no PT or Foyt either.

    Double standard here, George. I don’t like drivers acting out either – again, Vitor is a shining example of what a great behaved driver can come off as; ditto Ed Carpenter – but you can’t make her out to have been exceptional in that regard, either.

    • Oilpressure Says:

      No double standard – between the drivers you compared her to; Hornish, TK, Helio, AJ, Arie and PT there are 10 Indianapolis 500 victories among them as well as 12 series championships and 157 race wins. She has one win on her resume. Those other drivers have enough gravitas to their credit, they’ve earned the right to catch a pass for some questionable behavior from time to time. When you’ve accomplished very little, you have little allowances. It’s not a male/female double standard, as you suggest – it’s what have you done to justify surly behavior? In my opinion, her accomplishments pale in comparison to the great drivers you mentioned. When John Elway yelled at a teammate, it was considered leadership. When Ryan Leaf did it, he was called a brat. Sorry, it’s just the way it is. – GP

      • Can you show me where in your article above you noted that Danica’s behavior was wrong because she hadn’t won enough? It appeared to me that her behavior was being characterized as wrong due to its own merits.

        —–

        Ps. Just to clarify: I wasn’t suggesting that you were engaging in a *male/female* double standard. I do agree that your critique of her is entirely free of gender considerations. My apologies if that wasn’t clear.

        PPs. When Elway – and Manning in current times – yelled at a player, it’s leadership because it’s *constructive* i.e. it’s to get them back on track. Whereas Leaf was known to have acted in a very destructive manner towards his teammates, and didn’t yell to straighten them out, but rather to vent frustration and belittle them. My point here is that you cannot say that Leaf’s activities made him a “brat” because of his win/loss record; the reality is that he was a brat, period, and his behavior was poor leadership due to inherent characteristics, not because they were filtered through a lens of a losing NFL career. It’s not really accurate to say that Elway gets a pass due to his record when Leaf doesn’t because Leaf’s actions towards his teammates were nowhere near being comparable to Elway’s.

        • Simon Garfunkel Says:

          Dude-was it really necessary for George to spell out that winning can excuse certain behaviours? Somewhere in there, I would think common sense and the understanding of the obvious is the responsibility of the reader.

          I’ve always found this site to be a cut above most, because the readership seems to be more level-headed and intelligent than what you find on the “hater sites”. George seems to assume that most readers “get” certain things and doesn’t need to spell things out. One thing that I get is if Danica had proven herself as a consistent winner instead of a consistent whiner, fans would have forgiven her behavior.

          You seem to enjoy picking apart every analogy George has tried to make. Try taking those “skills” over to Track Forum and leave this site to those that understand the points that George was trying to make.

          • What I’m doing is pointing out the problem in George’s argument. Normally he’s solid, and I agree with him on most things. As is evidenced by previous comments I’ve made here. But here, on this one thing, there’s a definite double standard going. He didn’t try making the argument that “winning excuses bratty behavior” until someone here dissented, and yes, to be logically consistent, that should have been spelled out. It’s normally understood that bad behavior is bad behavior, and the difference between winners and losers doing is is that one’s a diva and the other’s a sore loser, but that they’re both acting badly. Trying to say it’s understood after the fact is being revisionist because no, it is not understood, and shouldn’t be. On the contrary, good or bad behavior is good or bad on its own merits, regardless of the person commiting the behavior. See the PopOffValve blog and other Indycar Tweeters complaining about Dario being a whiner for an example of this; few win more than Dario in Indycar, yet you don’t see the excuse being employed that he’s “earned” that right.

            That’s what I meant in my original post: What’s Danica done that’s worse than other drivers? Or other athletes in other sports? None of that context includes the notion of winning being absolution for bad behavior.

            And I’m pointing out the flaws in the argument precisely because I respect the hell out of George, and I know he’s strong enough to handle and respond to legitimate criticism. I love his blog precisely because it’s a carefully thought out and well composed blog; it isn’t mindless idiocy like all too many sports blogs out there are. So because of that, I know that legitimate, logically presented dissent helps strengthen, not weaken discussions occuring within it. That’s why I posted. Not for the sake of nitpickery, but for the sake of correcting a poor analogy. Go to an NFL forum and try to compare Elway to Leaf in the exact manner George did; you’ll get the same response, but with a whole lot of disrespect and derision added. The Leaf/Elway analogy was a bad one for precisely the reason I pointed out: Leaf was a horrid leader who gained no respect from his teammates. Elway was the opposite. That’s the explanatory context right there, not their win/loss records. And that’s why it was not a good response to what I was pointing out.

            Dissenting commentary is not a bad thing. Disrespectful posts would be, but I’d hope that I wasn’t coming across as that. On the contrary, I’m being direct because I believe that George can hold his own.

            If you thought I was being disrespectful to George, then I apologize to all here because that was not my intent at all. But I’d hope that the objection wasn’t that I was disagreeing with what George said. There’s nothing wrong with disagreement.

          • Indygrrrl Says:

            I agree that her behavior has not been any different than other athletes, but when the entire focus is on your behavior, not your accomplishments–is that being a really a good ambassador for the sport hat you supposedly love. The other sports (football, basketball, etc.) have many people in the spotlight–good, bad and ugly. BUT when you are the main person in the media spotlight, is this behavior acceptable? I won’t be sorry to see her go.

  14. Truthfully, I got tired of her antics after her walk down the pits at Indy to visit Briscoe. I also thought it was punk of her to slap at Wheldon after the race that one time. I won’t miss her, but I wish her well.

  15. She will be back.

    • Mike Rice Says:

      I hope you’re wrong…but along the lines of the publicity it might bring the series, I guess that wouldn’t be a bad thing if it were to happen.

  16. I wrote a piece on this subject back in August.

    http://justathought-skip-sc.blogspot.com/2011/08/ok-so-shes-leaving-what-now.html

    (Insert your snarky “shameless self-promotion” comment here.)

    I understand those of other opinions, but unless “Smoke” decides to run her at Charlotte, I expect we’ll see her at Indy in May. In fact, the thing that those of us who follow the series want most (the new cars) is also the thing that might keep her away.

    I can tell you this: Although she was booed during driver introductions at Indy this year, the reaction was far different when she took the lead in the waning laps of the race. And, as I said in my earlier comment, she still “moves the needle.”

  17. It occurs to me that Nascar knows the obvious. For the die-hard followers, new cars and engines and all that fun stuff is so important–but the casual sports fan just wants to see Dale Jr. win a race or anybody beat Kurt Busch. The car doesn’t matter.

    Sports is about choosing a side and supporting your team. Giving fans someone to cheer for. That is why Nascar wants Danica. And that’s an area Indycar seems to be lacking in.

  18. By the way, folks, what George said about Danica’s boorish behavior to the special needs kids was true. I never have commented on that for reasons of my own, but since George brought it up I will. Danica knew what she was dealing with when those kids with excited, lit-up faces at seeing thier favorite driver ran to her. When that happened I whispered to George “did you catch that?” Look, I know that the celebrity/pro athlete can be mobbed, but this was a Friday at Birmingham, the paddock wasn’t that crowded with fans and these were special needs kids who only wanted nothing more than an autograph. Frankly, it is too bad that those kids weren’t fans of Scott Dixon, Ryan Brisco, Graham Rahal or RHR because they would have been in for a treat.

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