The Food City 500 was definitely an eventful race for Danica Patrick after being involved in two separate wrecks throughout the long day.
On Sunday, Patrick crashed and was forced to use a backup car for the remaining laps of the race.
Patrick eventually finished in the 18th spot but it was not for lack of excitement during the day. After finishing 18th, Patrick claims to have been “lucky” because all she lost was some valuable practice time. Things could have been much worse for Patrick.
The biggest wreck of the day came when Patrick was pulling out of her spot in pit lane and ran into the rear of Clint Bowyer’s car on pit road.
This happened because she only had fourth gear and was really trying to gain speed leaving her pit stop. Earlier in the race, she had a run in with Cole Whitt that resulted in damage to her car. So, as if the car hadn’t suffered enough, this just added on to it even more.
Patrick said in an interview, “That’s why I hit Clint in the pits. It wouldn’t go, so I dipped the clutch and got sideways and when it was about to spin around, I lifted, it caught and then it went straight and it wouldn’t stop. So I hit him. I apologized to his crew after the race.”
During the middle of the race, Patrick found herself down by a lap. Teammate Kevin Harvick was not pleased with Patrick’s racing as she held him up when he was battling to stay in the top three.
Over the team radio, Harvick was heard saying, “The 10 (Patrick) needs to learn what (expletive) team she’s on! The 10 cost us three god-dang spots.”
Vice President of Competition for their team, Greg Zipadelli, did not make the situation seem like too much of a big deal.
Zipadelli discussed the situation from Sunday by saying, “You’re going to have that. You’re going to have it at Martinsville and you’re going to have it at a lot of other places. They’ll work it out. He’s helped her a lot this year, and they’ll work their frustrations out.”
Patrick moved up five spots to 28th in the driver and owner standing with the 18th place finish. Patrick’s boyfriend, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finished a career-best the same day. Stenhouse Jr. finished second place behind Carl Edwards.
Patrick has not been a NASCAR driver without having her fair share of criticism along the way. There have been plenty of people who do not seem very fond of her racing abilities.
Richard Petty, specifically, did not hold back on his feelings toward Patrick.
On SPEED’s “Race Hub” last year he said, “That’s where I have a problem. Where fans have bought into the hype of the marketing, to think she’s a race car driver. She can go fast, and I’ve seen her go fast. She drives the wheels off it when she goes fast…she’s not a race car driver. There’s a difference. The King always had that stupid saying, but it’s true, ‘Lots of drivers can drive fast, but very few drivers can race.’ Danica has been the perfect example of somebody who can qualify better than what she runs. She can go fast, but she can’t race.”
Have comments such as Petty’s stopped Patrick from doing what she loves? No, not at all. Have opinions like that caused her to lose fans? Definitely not.
Being the first female to race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup is definitely a huge accomplishment. I don’t agree with what Petty had to say about her talent on the track. She would not be where she is today if she were “not a race car driver.”
That is someone who is still completely stuck in the past. Every single driver has a different ability on the track. Every single driver has his or her own strengths and weaknesses. Sure, maybe Patrick is still trying to balance those out. But, how else would anyone learn and get better?
News flash: it’s 2014. It’s time to stop judging and time to start giving credit where credit is due. And, let’s be honest, Patrick deserves some credit. I’m sure it is not easy for her out there and then to have to deal with people constantly putting her down does not make it any easier.
Patrick has tried not to let the criticism affect her in the slightest bit. Recently, she became the first NASCAR driver to go over 1 million followers on Twitter. That is something that I’m sure Richard Petty can’t say about himself. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson have not even accomplished that.
Personally, I think that’s awesome for her. Fans are a huge part of NASCAR. Those fans sitting in the stands each week are the motivators for drivers and Patrick has millions.
Patrick is not letting negative comments bring her down. She even said, “It just shows what incredible and loyal fans I have. It’s pretty humbling that 1 million people are curious about what I have to say and what I’m doing. I really can’t thank everyone enough for their passion and interest.”
I would love to see Patrick continue to improve and show everyone doubting her just how strong of a race car driver she really is.