Monday, May 30, 2011


What alien has taken over Danica Patrick’s body?
Her interview following her tenth-place finish in Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 revealed a much different person from the one I have seen in the past.
In the past Danica has whined about other drivers getting in her way and her team’s inability to adjust her car to her liking. If anything went wrong, it was never her fault.
Sometimes it wasn’t, of course, but there is much more of a team aspect to racing than may be apparent to the average person. If a car isn’t getting set up the way it should be, maybe it’s because she isn’t giving her crew the correct information.
Even if that isn’t the case, it’s never good form to throw your crew under the bus. (My apologies for the cliche; I usually try to avoid them like the plague.)
But Danica, who had to give up the lead late because of fuel considerations, didn’t do that this time. No whining about people getting in her way or cutting her off. No complaints about her car’s handling.
She backed the team’s decisions on late-race strategy, and she didn’t second-guess anything her crew did throughout the entire month, even with the drama that accompanied her qualifying effort the week before.
She even had kind words for winner Dan Wheldon, with whom she has had run-ins in the past.
“Dan Wheldon -- he’s a great winner,” she said in the interview on ABC. “And what a great story. He hasn’t run this year and to come here with Bryan Herta, only in his second Indy 500, and to win. That’s really cool. He’s a great winner.”
Not only that, Danica did the entire segment without uttering a single “you know.”
She is either maturing or getting great counseling from her PR folks. Maybe both.
Either way it’s a great improvement.
Of course, we are still going to be given large doses of Danica media coverage in the future, and that will continue to be tiring. But it’s not her fault TV cameras and reporters’ recorders are thrust in her face. That is the decision of others.
I’m just glad her behavior is starting to live up to her image.

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