NASCAR Notes: Guess What They Asked Danica During Media Day?
BY DAVE GRAYSON
Thursday, February 13th, was the annual NASCAR Media Day. A reported 300 plus reporters, from all forms of the media, converged on Daytona Beach-Florida to meet with a reported 50 plus drivers who patiently and politely answered the same questions all day long.
Needless to say, everyone wanted interview time with Stewart-Haas Racing’s Danica Patrick. We all know why: it was of course regarding comments made by the legendary Richard Petty regarding Patrick’s status in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
During the course of a February 9th personal appearance in Toronto-Canada, Petty was asked if he thought Patrick was capable of winning a NASCAR Sprint Series race. Without a second’s hesitation, Petty replied “only if everybody else stays home.”
Needless to say, the comment from the King of Stock Car Racing lit up a firestorm. It also lit up the racing media as well as the social media.
To be completely fair and honest, Danica Patrick held her own during a long day of answering the same question over and over. The meat of this particular story is still very fresh and it’s likely that, depending on where Patrick finishes in the February 23d Daytona 500, this story will probably extend itself well past the conclusion of Speed Weeks.
In a live television interview on “Fox Sports 1′s NASCAR Media Day” coverage, later transcribed by “Team Chevy PR”, Patrick, once again, addressed the comments from Richard Petty and said:
“ You know, people have said things in the past, and they’re going to say things in the future. I still say the same thing: that everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. People are going to judge what he said, whether they judge it well or not, and I’m just not going to.”
When asked if criticism of this nature was a source of personal motivation for her, she replied:
“You can’t try any harder in the car. I think that’s something that probably every driver would tell you when someone questions our effort level. You can’t try any harder. You’re doing everything you can. And maybe subconsciously there’s some motivation, but I can’t tell. I’m giving it my all every single time I’m getting in the car, whether I’m making a simple qualifying run or I’m in the race. It is what it is and, again, people are entitled to their opinions, and that’s fine.”
Patrick made it pretty clear that the Petty comments was not going to disrupt her ability to focus on what’s important:
“It’s my belief that everyone can have their own opinion. It has nothing to do with where it comes from. The people that matter the most to me are my team, my sponsors, you know, those little three-year-old kids that run up to you and want a great big hug and say they want to grow up to be like you. That’s the stuff that I really focus on,” she said.
Patrick also pointed out that, quite often, a negative moment can be turned into a positive and said:
“I like that people have opinions. That is fine with me. I think that it creates such conversation. As I said the last time that somebody said something that was not so positive for me, it spawned so many positive articles. So, you know, there’s a positive side to it, too. But more than anything, I love the conversation that it creates in sports. Across the board it makes sports interesting. It makes life interesting when people have different perspectives, and that’s fine with me.”
You have to be fair here and give Danica Patrick a lot of credit for the way she handled the same question all day long. She knew it was coming, she was prepared for it and she came off cool, calm and collected during the process.