Being first can be brutal. Being first in a male dominated southern sport like NASCAR can be big time brutal. Danica Patrick will also be remembered as the first woman to truly break the gender barrier in stock car racing. Sure, there have been others but no one has had the full time support and sponsorship like Patrick.
What got my ear was when Eddie Gossage, President of Texas Motor Speedway was asked this week why he believes Danica Patrick is in a slump?
Gossage as he always does gave a great answer but why was the question even asked? Earlier that day Patrick finished 12th at Martinsville Speedway which is one of if not the toughest course on the Sprint Cup schedule. Finishing behind her were Dale Earnhardt Jr, her car owner Tony Stewart who she passed, Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards, Ryan Newman who won this race last year and 26 other drivers.
Clint Bowyer told USA Today that he couldn’t pass her and told her, “great job” after the race. Her crew chief Tony Gibson said that he never dreamed of such a finish for Patrick. Yet it’s a slump?
She sits at 26th in the Sprint Cup standings only three places behind teammate Ryan Newman and four behind team owner Tony Stewart. Why aren’t they being brought up? Aren’t they slumping? What about Juan Pablo Montoya who at one point was looked at as one of the best drivers in the world? He’s behind Patrick. What about Bobby Labonte who won the title in 2000? He’s behind Patrick.
Sure, equipment makes a big difference but shouldn’t we take into account that Patrick is side by side with her teammates using the same equipment? We haven’t even brought into account that she is a Sprint Cup rookie still getting accustomed to the car.
Any other rookie, we’d chalk it up to just that but with Danica Patrick, it’s a slump. The difference is that all eyes remain on Patrick because of her overall popularity not just in Nascar but also in sports. She’s a household name and with that comes exaggerated expectations.
Quickly forgotten is that she became the first woman to lead in Daytona and the first woman to win a pole position for a Cup race.
I’m more impressed that she finished eighth regardless if you are a man or a woman. That’s a season for some Cup drivers.
Let her race and give her a few years. Then we can judge.
If she were a rookie in any other sport, you would we would all agree that her potential is huge.
With Danica Patrick, potential is not allowed.
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