Race Weekend Central

Speeding Through Summer: Danica’s Driving And Drivers Of Years Past

Can you believe it? The season officially starts this weekend with the Daytona 500 on Sunday, as well as the Nationwide and Truck Series running on Saturday and Friday, respectively. Though I’m sure we’re all happy to have all three series back, I can’t imagine anyone is still going through racing withdrawal. After all, there’s been a race on TV almost every day except maybe Sunday (three hours of qualifying should suffice), not to mention all of the practice sessions. But we’re officially getting underway now, and many of you have unanswered questions as Speedweeks heads towards its crescendo.

Let’s get started.

*“How will Danica Patrick fare on Thursday? Will she be aggressive or save the car to avoid a possible wreck that would force forfeiture of pole position for Daytona 500?”* – _Matt_

I honestly think she’ll be smart about it. She’ll “go for it” when she thinks she can do so without crashing and will hang back and be cautious when it is appropriate. I think the same thing will happen in the Daytona 500. For all of Danica Patrick’s faults, patience is not one of them. Though she can be a little short-tempered with other drivers, she is good at knowing what to do and when to do it.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not predicting she won’t wind up crashing in either race. But, to be fair, drivers five times as good as her will probably crash, too. It’s just the nature of racing at Daytona. But I do think she will be smart about the way she races simply because she’s done such a good job with that thus far.

*Where in the world is: Justin Labonte (Terry’s son)? Haven’t seen or heard from him in years. Last I recalled, he was driving in Nationwide with the Coast Guard as a sponsor. Didn’t look like a highly competitive ride, though.* – _Tim_

The last time Justin Labonte competed in a NASCAR national series was in a Martinsville Truck Series race in 2007. Since then, he’s been doing quite a bit of dirt racing. He competed in a couple of Ultimate Super Late Model Series events, and even won a race in a Crate Late Model at Cherokee Speedway.

As far as his performance in NASCAR, you’re right, it was never impressive. His best average finish in any year he competed in a NASCAR national series was 19.5, when he competed in two races in the Camping World Truck Series in 2007.

He did also win one Nationwide Series race, part of a bizarre ending at Chicago in 2004 after leading 12 laps. I guess now he’s found his niche, so to speak, on dirt.

A pole performance of a different variety: Danica Patrick’s Daytona 500 pole win may be the turning point in a career popularized primarily by racy photos rather than race results.

*Hi Summer! As a woman, I was thrilled to see Danica Patrick win the pole for the Daytona 500. Personally, I feel like it was a great day for aspiring female racers and women everywhere! However, I see a lot of women who don’t agree and even seem irritated about Danica’s success. I don’t understand it! She’s showing that women are capable of competing with, and even beating men! How could this possibly be a bad thing?* – _Stacie_

Stacie, I think the problem for most women (including myself) is the drive behind her fame. It’s not her driving prowess. It’s not even her race car driver status as a whole. In fact, the fact that she’s a race car driver at all has very little to do with her fame. It’s her spread eagle, half nude across the hood of a car, Sports Illustrated, GoDaddy, bikini-clad, breast-wielding “brand.” She’s “hot”, and it generates attention. I think many women find that insulting that the driving force behind her fame and marketability is less about racing and more about, well, sex!

Though admittedly it seems like she’s toned down somewhat on the arguably inappropriate photo shoots and commercials, you can’t legitimately deny that the reason she is where she is, driving for a top-tier organization is because she’s a model. I think many women feel like it cheapens a person’s accomplishments, and makes it difficult for equally (if not more so) talented, yet slightly less attractive, women to achieve the same standing.

In other words, women don’t like the fact that objectifying herself has gotten her so far. Do we really have to turn ourselves into supermodels to make something of our careers? I think it’s a legitimate question and one that I don’t find to be unfair to Patrick.

*Connect with Summer!*

“Contact Summer Bedgood”:https://frontstretch.com/contact/28526/

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