With Danica Patrick’s recent announcement that she intends to race full time in NASCAR in 2012, it will be intriguing to observe how she will now be portrayed by various media outlets.
Patrick, who’s the main sponsorship face for GoDaddy.com, seemingly is known as much for her looks as her driving ability. The former appears to have irked at least one of her future NASCAR peers.
According to SI.com, driver Brad Keselowski tweeted: "... Her assent up the ladder of the sport thru various branding 'techniques' (swimsuit ads etc) only serves to undermine the ... future credibility of female races who wish to make it based on skill ... Essentially, she has opened a pandoras box for all female racers. If she doesn't succeed, no female will get the chance for years to come.''
Patrick did struggle this weekend finishing 21st in the IndyCar race at Sonoma, Calif. But her legacy with the organization is already secure with only four races left on this year’s IndyCar schedule.
Patrick is the first woman to win an IndyCar race, but open-wheel driving versus operating stock cars is a whole other matter, so an adjustment period is needed — but how much should time she get from journalists before judgments are formed?
There's likely not an absolute answer, but here's one thing journalists and editors should keep in mind regardless of their feelings about Patrick: She is an accomplished driver and has a record to support that.
Plenty of drivers have unsuccessfully tried to make the switch from open-wheel to stock cars. Whether Patrick goes on to win races and championships or has a mediocre stint in NASCAR, her driving abilities — not anything else — should be the paramount focus.
— Steve Bien-Aimé