I'm pretty sure that somewhere in the rules which govern the covering of contemporary automobile racing there must be a passage that states all historical milestones for Danica Patrick must be written about.
So, here goes.
Patrick passed through Phase II of her move from open-wheel cars to NASCAR over the weekend when she practiced, qualified and raced the No. 7 Nationwide Series car of J.R. Motorsports at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
And the feeling here is that Phase II went much the way Phase I went – only OK.
Upon arrival, crowds of fans and hoards of media surrounded Patrick. Once in the car, Patrick looked like an arrow without feathers early in practice but improved nicely as Friday wore on.
She qualified mid-pack-ish.
Then, on the track she found trouble or trouble found her, depending on what the predisposed eye chose to see.
She was running close – really close – to old dude, field-filler but much respected Morgan Shepherd when Shepherd's car got loose. It collected Patrick's and sent it for a ride. She recovered, got to the pits and only lost a lap.
Patrick appeared to throw a bit of a fit in her car, ran her car up behind Shepherd's under caution and then gave him a rather disrespectful tap on the rear bumper. Very uncomfortable and it had to be the low-light of Phase II.
Drivers with credentials can get away with that kind of stuff.
Drivers fighting for respect, who are, basically, on probation when it comes to being accepted into the garage club and have a history – perceived or actual – of not conducting themselves in harmony with protocol, cannot get away with that kind of stuff.
And that is where Patrick is at these days.
Openly, most in the garages are welcoming her to NASCAR, saying it's great that she is attempting to become a stock car driver and accepting her as a peer or potential peer.
However, drivers being human beings, there is also, you can bet, a feeling among the veterans in the garages that Patrick has enjoyed favored status. She is the rich kid in the barracks. She is new guy in the sandlot with the expensive bat and ball and shoes.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
Is part of it because she is a female? Absolutely. Is that fair? Absolutely not.
But it's the way it is.
Patrick would be wise to think through her words and actions thoroughly as she proceeds to Phase III, especially if she wants to make it to Phase IV and beyond.
Jim Pedley is managing editor of Racin' Today. Read more NASCAR news at racintoday.com.
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