Race Weekend Central

Fan’s View: When Fate…er…Idiots Steal Your Glory – Danica Patrick & Me

Look, things like this aren’t supposed to happen. I was going to get home, feed the cats, check all the dishes, laundry, messages and then climb into the truck and we’d be off. I was not supposed to be sitting on the side of the highway five miles from home staring at a smoking heap of rubber that looked like it just came off Kurt Busch‘s car. The track – Bristol, baby! – was the whole point of hooking up the trailer, not so we could blow a tire minutes from the house.

Find a solid object, apply head, cry a little on the inside, say a few unsavory words and then get out the wrench, jack, compressor and generator. We move on. Right? There’s nobody to point a finger at here. We checked the pressure, the lugs and looked at the wheel before we rolled out of the neighborhood. There was, however, that segment of pavement in downtown undergoing construction. Heavy sigh.

Yes, writing from somewhere on I-81 in Virginia, the destroyed piece of rubber is riding very comfortably in the truck bed and we are only slightly behind schedule. There is also rain blocking our view of the truck in front of us. But we keep plugging along as things happen, but life moves along.

So does the No. 7 GoDaddy machine. Now, before everybody gets out their shoes and throws them at me, I’ve been very good this year. I really thought on Saturday I’d be writing a different kind of column today – the one where Danica Patrick finally won a race fair and square using a good machine and some savvy driving skills. But, no. That did not happen.

Instead my weekly Danica stat looks like this:

Sonya’s Weekly Danica Stat
Montreal: NNS in the No. 7 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet
Qualified: 4th
Led: 20 laps
Finished: 27th (running, six laps down)
Points Position: 11th

It could have been worse. After nailing a shoe flung by an observer onto the track, the GoDaddy machine’s rear end started sliding around. From first to the garage area, Patrick’s potential win suffered the ignominy of not just a cruel twist of fate, but malicious interference. Danica and her team should not just “get over” the existence of the object that ruined their day. (I have a hard time understanding how a shoe made out of plastic and rubber can gut the underpinnings of a car, but there it is.) Unlike me and my moment of utter devastation, there is somebody at fault for the loss of the race.

At the beginning of the season, I offered up the opportunity to NASCAR’s golden girl to prove herself without comment. As in any sport, performance always trumps public image. Many fans gathered together declaring Danica’s either perfect or flawed records, as they saw fit to interpret her on-track performance to date. I would wait for the podium finishes and points positions to tell the story. Still, I left Patrick to do what she would and hoped for the best. I always do wish for great things where new drivers are concerned.

The positive results were starting to happen over the summer. She found her inner brute and instead of giving room to pushy drivers, she started to take. Her fenders didn’t look so clean and I was beginning to believe. A win could happen. She might be truly ready to leap up to the Cup level and not get eaten by the sharks.

But you know, when idiots decide to take the future of our sport away from the drivers and place it in their hands, NASCAR has nearly lost the battle. Or perhaps it has.

Yet, even though the GoDaddy team stumbled – or rather tripped – they did not give up. They fixed the broken rear axle, got back out on the track and finished the race much closer to the front than I thought possible. I didn’t witness any stomping of feet or outright tantrums. ESPN aired the moment of frustration and disbelief and then the team did get over it.

We move on.

Why? For there is another race, this weekend, in Bristol. Where hope tells us that the re-engineering of the track again will result in a week of beatin’, bangin’, rip-roaring fun worthy of a follow up column. Perhaps there might even be a win for a driver whose moment was stolen by a creature who should be so lucky as to be run over by a 3,000-pound stock car.

I certainly hope so.

About the author

The Frontstretch Staff is made up of a group of talented men and women spread out all over the United States and Canada. Residing in 15 states throughout the country, plus Ontario, and widely ranging in age, the staff showcases a wide variety of diverse opinions that will keep you coming back for more week in and week out.

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