The Frontstretch: Let's Give Danica a Fair Chance to Meet our Expectations by S.D. Grady -- Monday February 20, 2012

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Let's Give Danica a Fair Chance to Meet our Expectations

S.D. Grady · Monday February 20, 2012

 

So often we, the fans, voice our disappointment with NASCAR. Whether it be about boring races, the issuing of inconsistent penalties or ugly cars, the general state is one of unfulfilled expectations. At times, we have to admit that perhaps our disillusionment could be the result of placing the bar too high. In the real world—the one where you and I go to work and deal with situations that don’t always end in the best possible manner—we learn to temper our perceptions of the people that populate our planet and their abilities. Somehow all those common sense abilities seem to fly out the window come the weekend. The people who have earned a spot behind the wheel of a stock car we hold far above the mere mortal, and when they don’t perform as we hoped the world cringes from the irate audience’s screams of displeasure.

Well, this year, in a perennial media feeding frenzy that has been part of auto racing since her arrival on the IRL scene in 2005, we are all expecting things from one Danica Patrick. Once again as she approaches the altar of NASCAR, fans from near and far are expounding on their personal expectations of this female racer who seems to polarize a room in manner akin to the Busch Brothers.

I will admit to participating in the noise to an extent. I want her to succeed. Not because she wears the GoDaddy logo like no other scantily clad woman out there, or because she’s really good at winking as she says, “When you Peak, you win.” I don’t even want her to win a few races because she’s waving the flag for the fairer sex.

I want her to get in a car, drive the doors off of it and prance into Victory Lane because she’s the best thing to be seen behind a wheel! I want all the media to have a real reason to follow her around like lovesick puppies beyond the fact she’s easy on the camera.

For all of that, if she performs as a mediocre Nationwide driver, appearing in the middle of the pack for much of the year, I want the coverage to diminish, like it would for any other average Joe out there.

But what these wishes require before I can truly go on a rant like I did after her inaugural Indy 500, is for everybody to keep our expectations in perspective. For me, after seven years of frustration with bloated images of the little lady simply showing up for work, this will be a challenge. I’m aware of that.

I am starting the season with a jaundiced eye where Danica stats are. It’s very difficult for me to jump on the “ain’t she something?” bandwagon as my agreement would be drowned out by a massive cheer fueled by a throng of people who have been led down the yellow brick road by the man behind the curtain.
So I’ve decided to challenge myself this year. I’m going to give Ms. Patrick a real shot at earning her spot as one of “my” drivers. I’m going to track her stats for 2012. I’ll be providing one in this column every week. No comments. Just stats. For as much as I want to see if she is really capable of earning my admiration, sans fawning cameras and reporters, I want you to be able to get a clearer picture of her driving abilities, too. For this week we’ll start with a something simple: Daytona 500 practice.

First Practice:

She marked the 13th fastest lap. In her No. 10 Go Daddy machine she ran her fast circuit in 46.881 seconds at a speed of 191.975 mph.

Second Practice:

She ran a bit slower with a best time of 47.034 seconds at a speed of 191.351 mph and ranked 26th among those teams that took to the track.

What does that all mean? That, my friends is up to you. And that’s how this will work. At the end of Fan’s View I’ll give you the numbers, and then I’m going to leave it up to you to decide if she had a great day or simply just one more mediocre finish.

For as high as our expectations are, sometimes it’s better to let solid accomplishments speak for themselves before we talk ourselves into believing things that simply aren’t true.

Contact S.D. Grady

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john
02/21/2012 11:03 AM
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If sweet little Danica took out bad Kyle in the first lap she would overtake Jr. as the most popular driver.

pepper
02/21/2012 02:03 PM
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I was happy to see Danica came into NASCAR parttime last year, but the media/lovesick puppies have destroyed that calm demeanor of mine. The Fox Staff finished it off. It is sickening to hear and see Danica promoted as some kind of expert in cup racing. I’m not even sure she can finish a 500-mile race.

I would like to say I’m going to give her the benefit of a doubt, but she has done nothing but acted as if she will win every race she drives. She definitely thinks too much of herself.

Overra88ted
02/21/2012 03:20 PM
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Much like Dale Jr. she will just milk her “brand”, never have to live up to the hype, and there will always be “excuses made for her.

Countray
02/21/2012 03:26 PM
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I want Danica to do well simply because it will be good for the sport. If she wins races it’ll be a reason for NASCAR to be on Sportscenter other than the big wreck of the day. As far as fan and media hype is concerned, it’s always going to be sky high, because… let’s be honest, in this sport, you don’t have to be that good to be popular. A certain driver in the 88 car has pointed that out.

MBVoelker
02/21/2012 07:58 PM
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My expectations are that Danica will bask in mediocrity made profitable by her willingness to take her clothes off.

If there was any real talent behind the hype she’d have been able to make her career with her clothes on.

Bad Wolf
02/21/2012 10:36 PM
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If not for Danica hundreds of airbrush artists would be unemployed, instead of working for all the print ad agencies representing “Her Brand”.

I expect maybe one fuel mileage win for Butch Patrick after a questionable caution thrown at just the right moment.

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