Race Weekend Central

Fan’s View: Let’s Give Danica a Fair Chance to Meet Our Expectations

So often we, the fans, voice our disappointment with NASCAR. Whether it be about boring races, the issuing of inconsistent penalties or ugly cars, the general state is one of unfulfilled expectations. At times, we have to admit that perhaps our disillusionment could be the result of placing the bar too high.

In the real world – the one where you and I go to work and deal with situations that don’t always end in the best possible manner – we learn to temper our perceptions of the people that populate our planet and their abilities. Somehow all those common-sense abilities seem to fly out the window come the weekend.

The people who have earned a spot behind the wheel of a stock car we hold far above the mere mortal, and when they don’t perform as we hoped the world cringes from the irate audience’s screams of displeasure.

Well, this year, in a perennial media feeding frenzy that has been part of auto racing since her arrival on the IRL scene in 2005, we are all expecting things from one Danica Patrick. Once again, as she approaches the altar of NASCAR, fans from near and far are expounding on their personal expectations of this female racer who seems to polarize a room in manner akin to the Busch brothers.

See also
2012 NASCAR Season Preview, Part IV: Danica Hype Versus Reality

I will admit to participating in the noise to an extent. I want her to succeed. Not because she wears the GoDaddy logo like no other scantily-clad woman out there, or because she’s really good at winking as she says, “When you Peak, you win.” I don’t even want her to win a few races because she’s waving the flag for the fairer sex.

I want her to get in a car, drive the doors off of it and prance into victory lane because she’s the best thing to be seen behind a wheel! I want all the media to have a real reason to follow her around like lovesick puppies beyond the fact she’s easy on the camera.

For all of that, if she performs as a mediocre Nationwide driver, appearing in the middle of the pack for much of the year, I want the coverage to diminish, like it would for any other average Joe out there.

But what these wishes require before I can truly go on a rant like I did after her inaugural Indy 500, is for everybody to keep our expectations in perspective. For me, after seven years of frustration with bloated images of the little lady simply showing up for work, this will be a challenge. I’m aware of that.

I am starting the season with a jaundiced eye where Danica stats are. It’s very difficult for me to jump on the “ain’t she something?” bandwagon, as my agreement would be drowned out by a massive cheer fueled by a throng of people who have been led down the yellow-brick road by the man behind the curtain.

So I’ve decided to challenge myself this year. I’m going to give Ms. Patrick a real shot at earning her spot as one of “my” drivers. I’m going to track her stats for 2012. I’ll be providing one in this column every week. No comments. Just stats. For as much as I want to see if she is really capable of earning my admiration, sans fawning cameras and reporters, I want you to be able to get a clearer picture of her driving abilities, too. For this week we’ll start with a something simple: Daytona 500 practice.

First Practice

She marked the 13th fastest lap. In her No. 10 GoDaddy machine she ran her fast circuit in 46.881 seconds at a speed of 191.975 mph.

Second Practice

She ran a bit slower with a best time of 47.034 seconds at a speed of 191.351 mph and ranked 26th among those teams that took to the track.

What does that all mean? That, my friends is up to you. And that’s how this will work. At the end of Fan’s View I’ll give you the numbers and then I’m going to leave it up to you to decide if she had a great day or simply just one more mediocre finish.

For as high as our expectations are, sometimes it’s better to let solid accomplishments speak for themselves before we talk ourselves into believing things that simply aren’t true.

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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