Sunday, April 05, 2015

Danica Patrick sizzles on and off the track in NASCAR


Danica Patrick - Lightning Rod - Marketing Machine - Trail Blazer - and another Wisconsin Cheesehead

We love Danica Patrick because we love anyone who can turn the world upside down which is just what she is doing in NASCAR.

Just another day at the office for lovely Danica is surviving 200 miles per hour crashes into walls, emerging from a wall of flames unscathed, being the only woman in the sea of bad boys of NASCAR racing, and appearing on magazine covers.

Here are some of the latest news reports on the Golden Girl of racing, who just had a birthday on March 25 and is now just 33 years old.

Mar 29, 2015, 8:02 PM EDT

For those who don’t think Danica Patrick is improving in her third full-time season in the Sprint Cup Series, here are some numbers to consider:

Sunday tied her second-best finish (Kansas, spring 2014) in a Sprint Cup race, one spot lower than her career-best sixth at Atlanta Motor Speedway last September.

With a seventh in Sunday’s STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway, Patrick made the biggest jump of any driver in the Sprint Cup standings, from 23rd to 16th, and is tied with Jeff Gordon and Carl Edwards at 115 points behind series leader and her Stewart-Haas Racing teammate, Kevin Harvick.

“I’m proud of everyone for not giving up and for keeping their head in the game, and the pit crew did a good job,” Patrick said. “They were frustrated last weekend after making a mistake on the last stop, and it’s team effort, you know.”

Admittedly, Patrick’s race Sunday was not perfect, either.

“I (made) mistakes at the very end, too,” she said. “I’m not going to lie, I was glad there was not a yellow at the very end coming to the white. I was glad for that.”
Earlier in the race, her No. 10 Chevrolet was tight.

“We just weren’t very good to start,” Patrick said. “We took a chance and stayed out on a yellow, and we were front row, and I bet I looked like an idiot out there.

“I spun the wheels on the start and hung on a little bit, but then ended up going backwards in a hurry.

“I said before the race started that we can be down here but we can still come back, and if we get there, let’s just keep digging and let’s find something.”

Patrick made a strong move late in the race when she deftly avoided being collected in a multicar wreck, swerving to the right to miss a spinning Paul Menard.

“That’s kind of the way it goes at Martinsville,” she said. “I think all four corners are banged up. … (The) 27 got sideways and he was just completely sideways in front of my car, and luckily I had slowed down enough and swerved to the right.

“It’s all a matter of luck, too. I could have got drilled from the back and hit into the car. I could have swerved to the right and had somebody clip my right rear and spun, somebody could have been out there.

“Crashes are about observing where you’re at and making a good decision about where to go, but they’re also about luck. I got lucky that there was nothing in my way to get around that one. That would have probably wrecked my day.”


Danica Patrick: Why Her Fans Just Can’t Get Enough

A marketing machine. A spokesperson. A competitor. A trail blazer. The best female race car driver of all-time. Danica Patrick has been called them all.  Being one of the most successful female drivers in a male dominated sport comes with notoriety and if one thing is for sure, fans just can’ t get enough of Danica Patrick.

The Early Years – Danica Patrick’s love affair with racing began at the early age of 10. The thrill of competing in Go-Kart races in her home state of Wisconsin led to her desire to pursue different outlets for racing. A journey that would take her overseas and back home again.

At the age of 16, Patrick moved to England and joined the British National Series. In three years of racing there, Patrick had minor success (including a second-place finish in Britain’s Formula Ford Festival) and she decided to advance her racing career by returning to the United States.

Though she never won a race in the Toyota Atlantic Championship series, Patrick consistently placed in the top three and finished third overall in the championship. Based on those results, in 2005 Patrick’s sponsor Rahal Letterman Racing decided it was time to have Patrick make the jump to IndyCar Racing.

Indianapolis Here She Comes

On May 29th, 2005, Danica Patrick became the fourth woman to compete in the Indianapolis 500. This alone was enough to make headlines and turn Patrick into a pop culture/sports personality, but it was clear that Patrick wanted more. Patrick led for 19 laps of her first Indy 500 and eventually finished fourth, the highest finish of any woman at the time to have participated in the race.

Out to prove that she was much more than just a token female in a man’s world, Patrick raced well enough in 2005 to win the Rookie of the Year for IndyCar racing. Later, in 2009, she would go onto finish third in the Indy 500 and end up in fifth place overall in the IndyCar Series.

Then, in 2011,knowing that she was one of the best drivers in her sport, Patrick made another change. As the ambitious always do, Patrick wanted to challenge herself and compete with the best in the world.

NASCAR: The Big Time

Patrick began her NASCAR career in the Nationwide Series. Racing in her car, Patrick finished fourth in the Sam’s Town 300 Nationwide Series race, the highest finish ever for a woman in NASCAR. Adding to her accolades, in 2013 Patrick became the first woman to win a pole position for a NASCAR race when she qualified for the Daytona 500. In the race itself, Patrick led for a few laps and eventually placed 8th, the highest a female has ever placed in the history of that race.

Though Patrick’s NASCAR career has been checkered and sometimes filled with controversy, she continues to impress. In 2014, in a career already filled with firsts, Patrick led six laps in the race at Talladega. She finished in 22nd place at the race which was the best finish ever by a female driver at Talladega.

Patrick’s first two years in the Sprint Cup have also brought her Top 30 overall finishes in the Cup standings.

Non-Racing Highlights

Opportunities have come along for Patrick to market and brand herself. She has been a spokesperson for for years and did commercials for Secret deodorant in 2005 and 2006. Her acting has carried over in a guest appearance on CSI:NY and she voiced herself on an episode of The Simpsons. Patrick has graced the cover of numerous magazines, including Sports Illustrated. She even has appeal to kids, as she was selected favorite female athlete in 2008 and 2012 at the Kids Choice Awards.

Through it all, Danica Patrick has proven that she is out to be much more than a trail blazer. She not only wants to be respected, but she wants to be competitive. Patrick will not just show up and be known as that “female” driver. She is going to go toe-to-toe with the best around. For that, she earns respect. Patrick is willing to be competitive, laugh at herself, work hard, and seek to accomplish her goals all while maintaining her position as a public figure and role model. For these reasons, Danica Patrick continues to be someone the fans just can’t get enough of.

More Hot Topics:

Danica Patrick got a top ten finish at Martinsville last week and hopes to make it two in a row at Texas, crediting her success to her relationship with her crew chief:

"I think it's really good. I think we have a lot of fun, but we also do good work."

Danica Patrick is a lightning rod in the sport that is NASCAR. Everything that Patrick says and does gets the utmost attention whether it really should or not. Patrick is a female athlete in a sport that has long been dominated by men, that alone puts her in the spotlight. Moreover, Patrick is also a marketing machine which thrusts her even further into the public eye. Whether you support Patrick or not; the only fair way to judge her is based on her numbers and six races into her third full season her numbers simply don’t lie.

Patrick is slowly but surely becoming a better driver and there really isn’t any arguing it. Many critics are quick to point out that she has never won a race or finished in the top-five in 88 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events and they would be correct. In fact, if I was trying to argue that Patrick is one of the sports greatest drivers those folks could easily use that argument against me. However, I’m not making that argument because she isn’t one of the greatest drivers in the sport but she is becoming better.

Let’s take a look at some numbers that Patrick has piled up since 2012.

Average Starting Position:
2012 – 36.1
2013 – 30.1
2014 – 22.3
2015 – 20.0 (through six races)

Average Finishing Position:
2012 – 28.3
2013 – 26.1
2014 – 23.7
2015 – 19.3 (through six races)

Every year Patrick has improved her average qualifying and finishing positions. Six races into 2015 both of those stats are the highest that they have ever been in her career.

She has also improved some of her other numbers across the board which can be seen below. Please note that she only ran 10 races during the 2012 season.

Lead Lap Finishes
2012 – 1
2013 – 12
2014 – 19
2015 – 4 (through six races) She is on pace for 24 this season.

Laps Led
2012 – 0
2013 – 5
2014 – 15
2015 – 0 (through six races)

Top-10 Finishes 
2012 – 0
2013 – 1
2014 – 3
2015 – 1 (through six races) She is on pace for six this season.

Coming into 2015 she has had more finishes on the lead lap, more laps led and more top-10 finishes each season that she is in NASCAR. Through six races this season she is on pace to finish the season with a new best in finishes on the lead lap and top-10 finishes in a single season. Once again, Patrick is improving every single season thus far. Is it possible that she could take a nosedive and not have a good 2015 for the rest of the year? Sure, anything is possible but her numbers don’t suggest that will be the case.

Aside from the stats mentioned above, Patrick is also on pace to set personal bests for number of laps completed and the number of miles driven in a single season. Like the majority of her stats, those numbers also have gotten better each season that she has been racing.

Those who are against Patrick will always be against her. Some of the common critiques are that some feel that a woman has no place in NASCAR while others feel that she is just her to make money for SHR and that she is overhyped in every sense of the word. For those that don’t believe she belongs in the sport because of her sex; well that’s an entirely different conversation and those folks need to realize that it’s 2015.

When it comes to the marketing thing; NASCAR is all about marketing. The cars, the drivers, the sponsors, the names of the races; it’s all marketing. Denny Hamlin, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick and Dale Earnhardt Jr. all make commercials and do a lot of marketing for their teams and sponsors. When it comes to NASCAR marketing is the name of the game and if your driver has something to offer than it’s a win-win for everyone.

As far as being overhyped goes? Some fans often confuse overhyped with overexposed. Patrick is nowhere near overhyped because nobody is out there talking about how she is going to win races and championships. Just because she gets a lot of media coverage, TV time and interviews it doesn’t mean that there are suddenly expectations for who to achieve greatness. Patrick isn’t overhyped, certain fans just feel that she is overexposed and as a result that line has been blurred.

Again, if you want to fairly judge Patrick and where she is in NASCAR the only way to do it is by looking at her numbers. Numbers and stats don’t lie. The bottom line when it comes to Patrick is that she keeps getting better. Will she ever win races and championships? Who knows, but her future success or failures don’t erase what she has accomplished and the improvements that she has made up to this point.

Patrick is slowly but surely becoming a better driver and there really isn’t any arguing it.

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