Kiwi wins the 500 and Danica’s ‘walk of shame’

Kiwi wins the 500 and Danica’s ‘walk of shame’

Great Indy 500 this year. New Zealand’s Scott Dixon won this year – which is nice to see a kiwi win. Nice to hear the accent too – missed the sound from my trip there about 2 years ago. Overall the race went great – very few accidents/yellows and lots of good racing. The warm track conditions lead to a lot of slippage. It was hard for people to make gutsy moves and most drivers commented on the lack of ability to pass. So it was fast racing with just a few, but really good, lead changes.

Danica Patrick got lots of coverage. More than anyone other than the leaders really. She started in 5th but hovered in that range all the way back to 12th at one point. The in-car coverage indicated she was having trouble getting full speed out of the car. But she was taken out late in the game due to a poor merge by a rookie Indy driver in pit row. Yes, it was pretty much the other guy’s fault, but merge accident happens a lot at Indy – the pit lane is really narrow – and it clearly was just bad luck and a rookie mistake. Still, after the wreck, she started walking on the track down pit row to probably have a few words with the other driver. A security guard went out on the track to get her off, and her press secretary was frantically trying to reign her in.

At first it was interesting and somewhat entertaining, but in the end it simply left a bad taste in my mouth. Competition at that level is very heated and passionate. Yes, people will get angry and I can understand that. But in that race, Tony Kanaan (started in 6th right next to Patrick and was well on pace to win or place in the top 3 of the race) voluntarily took getting taken out by his own teammate to prevent a crash with slower teammate Marco Andretti after Andretti pulled an aggressive move that forced Kanaan in the wall. Look at the difference in his response:

Kanaan said after the race that Andretti made “a stupid move,” (my note: which I agree) and he refused to back down from his assessment. But Kanaan expects the issue to be resolved professionally. “I’m not going to create problems; we have a championship to win, either for me or the team,” he said. “We’re going to talk, get frustrated a little and get over it.”

On top of that, veteran Sarah Fisher (who’s been at Indy more times than I can shake a stick at) was taken out by his wreck.  Which is horrible for her because it seems she has had no end of bad luck at Indy and has been working on a shoe-string budget for years. Yet Sarah was one of the first to come to Danica’s trailer after her recent win in Japan to congratulate her – a win Sarah has never had in the years of Indy driving she’s put in.

While I like Danica as a racer, I’m finding aspects of her attitude less and less likable. So exactly what was going down and confronting him in front of everyone supposed to do? What did she hope to accomplish? (this is more than rhetorical – really try to come up with an answer and see what I mean)  All it did accomplish was to get her escorted off the track by security and her picture isn’t on the papers today for having a good race, but for the ‘thwarted altercation’.  And this isn’t the first time she’s had after-accident altercations. This was clearly an accident, and yep, it was more likely the fault of a rookie driver. You might even come to words with the person – but doing it in front of the world – walking down the pit track during the race – makes you look unprofessional and immature. It also reveals a lot about your character and deeper psyche – and seeing the difference between Kanaan and Patrick really showed that difference to me.

I’ve really wanted to like Danica – I really have. I was quite a fan at first. She used to race on the same cart track my boss races on just south of Portland. But it’s what people do when people are pushed to their extreme edges that really reveals who they are underneath – and I’m beginning not to like what I see in Patrick’s push to win. We might now argue about gender inequality and the fact that she probably needs to work 2x as hard to prove herself in this male dominated realm (and you’d probably be right), but character is character no matter what you do.  And I’ll take character over winning any day of the week.

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