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IndyCar racer Danica Patrick a fetching success

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Danica Patrick gets it.

The IndyCar driver and Roscoe, Ill., native understands that as one of the circuit's biggest names and arguably the most visible woman in sports, she's going to encounter people hung up on what makes her stand out.

But she's encouraged to see that her success on the track is garnering bigger headlines these days than those solely about her looks.

''I feel that one of the markers was earlier this year [when] I had my best finish at Indy and it wasn't such a big deal,'' Patrick said. ''One of the journalists said, 'Hey, you're up here, you're top three, and it's not like major news or anything. How do you feel about that?'

''I said that was good because I'm out here to win races and people are trusting the abilities more and believing I can win races. So if I don't win, then a good race is good race, it's not breaking news. I think it's coming along and everybody's got to earn their keep.''

Naturally, the subject of driving while female has become a bit pedantic to the 27-year-old whose quest to earn that keep has taken a different path than most drivers. Patrick has seen a welcome shift toward being viewed as a racer first and a trailblazer second. She has learned to trust herself and leave her detractors in her rearview mirror.

''I don't care,'' she said. ''People can think whatever they like. I hope they think well of me. I do the best job I can to put my best foot forward and show people who I really am, but also try to be as nice as possible. After that, if they don't like me, then that's OK. That's why we have lots of other drivers to choose from. It's very exhausting to try to appease the entire public.''

Entering the Indy 300 on Saturday at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Patrick is fifth in the IndyCar standings. She attributes her success to the continuity she has kept with her crew, a team she describes as extremely close-knit. Earlier this year, she earned her best finish in the Indianapolis 500, placing third at what she says is far and away her favorite place to race.

Patrick still is mindful of her commitments off the track, such as promotions and branding, aspects in which IndyCar is lagging behind NASCAR.

''I think about it a lot,'' she said. ''It's a big part of my job, it's a big part of what I do, and that's how it becomes a business. There's some days were you really would like to get on with the job and do the fun stuff, the rewarding stuff, but it's all part of the job. You have to do that to get in the car. I really take it all in stride and try to do a good job with all of it. Without the sponsors, we don't go racing.''

Patrick believes playing up the strong personalities and unique styles of IndyCar drivers is key to growing the sport.

''People don't really get a chance to know the personalities in IndyCar very well,'' she said. ''I think that there's a lot of really interesting people that race, but I don't think everyone gets a chance to see that because we don't have enough publicity, have enough drivers with sponsors that get them out there and show a different side of them.''

It's a sentiment that carries weight considering the source. Patrick is a Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue veteran and talk-show circuit pro who has appeared in a Jay-Z music video and starred in one of the most memorable Super Bowl commercials in February. She's a face for the sport -- and a willing one.

But her focus is on the race Saturday. Patrick said it leads to a different type of strategy because of the track and where it falls on the schedule.

''It's been the last race of the season for a while -- it's not this year -- but it's a race you want to do well and finish your season strong,'' she said. ''You'll take a couple extra risks in the race to have a good result. We tried to make something happen there at the end of last season, and it didn't work out. You've got to give it a shot there.''

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3 Comments

HELLO DANICA!

I am a 66 year old female from Texas and a sincere and loyal fan.

I have been following your career for a few years now and look forward to each weekend that you race. I think you are an all around super person and I appreciate what you have done for the female sports field. You are a remarkable woman to be able to handle yourself so well with all the adversity from some of the men that you get. I am so proud of you and if I had a daughter I would want her to be just like you.

I wish you GOOD LUCK today at the race. I always get so excited at race time. Take care and best regards, Gwen

I'm a big fan of Danica...sure she's pretty...but as a former racer myself she a damn good driver contrary to what many of her detractors like to argue and I find myself rooting for her on that aspect the most.

Consistency is much more important in racing then winning and she has proven that this year. I think it would be a huge huge huge mistake for her to move to NASCAR; hopefully she's talked with Dario Franchitti about his mistake in moving. The racing styles are completely different and they don't call it "BASHCAR" for nothing.

It's all too clear that NASCAR is only interested in her marketability, and while one could say that about IRL at least AGR is working too improve her driving abilities as well.

At the end of the day her skills are best align with open wheel of IRL and sadly I think she'd would find herself a fish out of water at NASCAR. Stay with INDY Danica, it would be the smarter choice!

July 30, 2010

As a loyal and faithful fan, I am concerned that Danica is going through this frustrating situation now. However, I have faith in her that she will figure it out and do what is best for her racing career.

Whether it is open wheel or NASCAR I will always support her and wish her all the success in the world.

Everybody now needs to give her some slack. None of us are perfect and always know how to create the success in our lives. She reacts to situations and what people say from her life's experiences (e.g., living and working in a man's world.) Anyway, I think she is great and we need her in the sport's world.

(This is a follow up to my blog of Augus 31, 2009.)

Gwen Brazell

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This page contains a single entry by Kyle Koster published on August 27, 2009 6:08 PM.

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