By Joe Dunn
All the media hype leading up to the Drive4COPD NASCAR Nationwide Series season opener failed to hand Danica Patrick the success that Bob Parsons of GoDaddy.com was buying. After a good showing last week in the ARCA race at Daytona, the moves were fast and furious to get Patrick in the NNS race. But, putting her in one of the best cars in the field, with a proven winning team still required her to perform to the standards that some of the media was setting for her.
Not satisfied with one of the best winning combinations of car and team for her, they even went to the extreme of buying the points from last years No. 11 car to guarantee her a starting spot. Her performance in the practices was respectable, but practice is not a race, and NASCAR is surely not the same level as ARCA. When the green flag dropped Saturday afternoon, Danica went backwards and continued to do so for the first half of the race. It became obvious that she was not comfortable with drafting, as she failed to ever tuck in behind and draft anyone. Even after falling to the back of the field, she was unable to run with the traditional ‘also ran’ cars.
The race call from the TV booth was just as bad, when earlier wrecks slid away from her, the accolades from the booth were laughable. When she finally got caught up in the wreck, as other drives headed low to miss it, she drove straight into it. The call from the booth, ’She did a great job, she couldn’t avoid it’, were these guys watching the same race as the rest of us? Rusty Wallace, who has never been afraid to call drivers out for mistakes, was the top Danica cheerleader, ignoring her obvious mistake. Danica was relatively quite on the radio, giving almost no feedback to her crew during the race, but the priceless transmission came after the wreck, “ I kept it straight hoping they’d get out of the way, and they didn’t”. What, did she miss her spotter yelling repeatedly that the wreck was up high? Following the wreck, her radio transmission was loaded with the F bombs, wonder if NASCAR will address that like they have other teams and drivers in the past.
The good news for the day was that after Danica wrecked and the car was loaded into the hauler, and her garage interviews subsided, the coverage of the actual race began. Well, it looks like NASCAR fans will be subjected to another week of hype leading up to the California race, will this be DanicaMania II?