Monday, October 15, 2018
Sports

Why it's getting harder to defend Danica Patrick

Full disclosure: I like Danica Patrick.

Ever since she joined NASCAR six seasons ago, I've pulled for her to win. Partly because it would be great for the sport and partly to shut up the chauvinists who still don't believe a woman should be driving with men.

In a sport that is losing big personalities — Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart are retired and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is about to be — Patrick has everything NASCAR needs to have a superstar lift the sport up onto her shoulders.

She is charismatic, fiery, outspoken, funny, self-deprecating, well-spoken and it would be naive to say she her looks have nothing to do with her popularity.

She's Wonder Woman. Literally.

Wonder Woman sponsored her car last week.

Patrick has it all.

Well, except success on the racetrack. Which, I know, is kind of the point of this whole thing.

And now, it's her woe-is-me attitude that is turning off some people who actually like her.

Like me.

Last weekend, she gave an incredibly tone-deaf interview that infuriated NASCAR fans and set off a firestorm on Twitter.

Patrick was having a good night in Kansas with 68 laps remaining when she was knocked out in a violent three-car crash that started because of a part breaking on Joey Logano's car and ended with Tampa's Aric Almirola going to the hospital. Almirola suffered a compression fracture in his back and is sidelined indefinitely.

Nobody had a worse night than Almirola. Well, unless you ask Patrick.

While Almirola was being air-lifted to the hospital, Patrick bellyached about her rotten luck in an interview with Fox.

"I feel absolutely horrible, I just don't understand why so much bad luck happens," Patrick said. "I was having a really good night and that's what makes me most mad. Every time I'm doing better something stupid happens. And ... it's just killing me."

On and on she went, toggling back-and-forth between throwing herself a pity party and biting sarcasm that only amplified her complete insensitivity towards a fellow driver. She talked that something really bad was going to happen to her one of these days while completely ignoring that something really bad happened to Almirola.

Patrick spoke for exactly 1 minute and 43 seconds before it dawned on her to send best wishes to Almirola.

That was about 1 minute and 40 seconds too late. Twitter responded immediately.

One read: "I've never been so disappointed with a driver's post wreck behavior as I was with you today. Prayers for Aric Almirola.''

Another said, "Danica Patrick just gave the most immature, self-absorbed interview. Almirola left on a stretcher, but it's all about Danica's problems.''

That was just the tip of it all and Patrick deserved every bit of the shade thrown her way.

It's bad enough that you're not a winner, but now you're a whiner?

Granted, she was only a few minutes removed from scary wreck, and her emotions were bound to be a little raw. But it also goes to show the pressure she must be feeling for her complete lack of real success.

She has started 165 NASCAR races and has no wins. Her best-ever finish was sixth in Atlanta in 2014 — just one of six top-10 finishes in her career. Her NASCAR highlight, so far, was winning the pole at Daytona in 2013. She finished eighth.

Basically, her NASCAR career hasn't lived up to the expectations. She drives a good car with good equipment, certainly good enough to win. Her Stewart-Haas teammates win. One of those teammates, Kurt Busch, recently questioned whether she's aggressive enough to have NASCAR success.

This is all to point out that you can begin to understand why Patrick snapped a bit in the interview after last weekend's crash.

Has any driver in the history of the sport had their careers dissected more than Patrick? Has any driver been criticized more for their lack of success than Patrick? Can you name another driver who was knocked by one of the greatest names in the sport for never winning the way Patrick was by Richard Petty a few years back?

No wonder she's not Miss Manners after a race. This isn't an excuse, but an explanation.

She's feeling the heat and there are strong rumors that this could be her last year in NASCAR. She was running just outside the top 10 last Saturday night when she crashed. Who knows, maybe this would have been the breakthrough race.

Instead it was another chapter in an underwhelming career.

Hopefully the next moment will be a terrific one. And not the last one.

Contact Tom Jones at [email protected] Follow @tomwjones

     
Comments
Why the Bucs waited to fire Mike Smith

Why the Bucs waited to fire Mike Smith

TAMPA — Exactly two weeks ago, Bucs coach Dirk Koetter stood at the same podium following the Bucs' embarrassing 48-10 loss at Chicago and asked this rhetorical question: "We fire Mike Smith. Okay, then what would the next move be?''Well, the B...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Buccaneers AfterMath: The kicker problem and how to solve it

Buccaneers AfterMath: The kicker problem and how to solve it

On “Separation Sunday” in the NFL, it was gut-check time for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They didn’t pass, dropping their third straight game.In a 34-29 loss to the Falcons in Atlanta, the defense struggled to get off the field on thi...
Updated: 2 hours ago
USF journal: Coby Weiss earns AAC honor

USF journal: Coby Weiss earns AAC honor

Bulls sophomore walk-on Coby Weiss, who nailed the winning 22-yard field goal Friday at Tulsa, was named American Athletic Conference co-special teams player of the week on Monday.TB Jordan Cronkrite, who recorded his fourth consecutive 100-yard game...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Mike Smith’s firing means the Bucs got tired of wasting a decent offense

Mike Smith’s firing means the Bucs got tired of wasting a decent offense

TAMPA— Wow, who saw that coming?Let's be as clear: Former Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith, wished into the cornfield Monday, won't be the last person to carry a box out of the team's headquarters this season.Sunday's 34-29 loss in Atlanta...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Captain’s Corner: Water clearing up, and remaining warm

The water is finally starting to clear back up after the blow from the hurricane. I am not seeing any signs of Red Tide from Pass-a-Grille South and throughout the Fort De Soto area. It looks like we will stay in our summer-like pattern for at least ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Bucs fire defensive coordinator Mike Smith

Bucs fire defensive coordinator Mike Smith

The Bucs have fired defensive coordinator Mike Smith.Smith's defense was last in 2017 and are allowing 34.6 points per game this season, the most in the league and are on pace to allow the most points in NFL history.Two weeks ago, the Bucs were embar...
Updated: 3 hours ago
How Florida State responds after Hurricane Michael will decide its season

How Florida State responds after Hurricane Michael will decide its season

For the second year in a row, Florida State is having to deal with the football fallout from a devastating hurricane.The Seminoles' failure to respond properly from Hurricane Irma helped lead to their lost 2017 season. How they handle the aftermath o...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Lightning’s owes its penalty-kill success to the art of blocking shots

Lightning’s owes its penalty-kill success to the art of blocking shots

BRANDON — Defenseman Anton Stralman single-handedly preserved the tie when he stepped in front of the shot.Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy had stopped the previous handful of pucks that Columbus fired at him during its first power play, but he wa...
Updated: 4 hours ago
UConn linebacker hospitalized after suffering stroke

UConn linebacker hospitalized after suffering stroke

STORRS, Conn. — UConn linebacker Eli Thomas has been hospitalized after suffering a stroke. The school issued a statement Monday saying the 220-pound junior had the stroke Wednesday prior to a weightlifting session. The school says Thomas was immedia...
Updated: 5 hours ago
The Bucs are suddenly 2-3, and you can see doom from here

The Bucs are suddenly 2-3, and you can see doom from here

TAMPA — So this is what the downward looks like. This is how the rest of the Bucs season will look, right on down to Dirk, let us help you with the big boxes.The Bucs are trapped like rats.So are their fans.The rest of the way will often go a l...
Updated: 5 hours ago