Patrick ready for big leap in IRL
Story by Chris Graham
Listen to today’s “SportsDominion Show,” featuring an interivew with IRL star Danica Patrick. Show Length: 14:01.
So you’re Danica Patrick, the 2005 Indy Racing League rookie of the year, seventh in the points in 2007, your third season on the circuit.
Former IRL star Dario Franchitti, now in NASCAR, is telling everybody that this is going to be the year that you finally break through as a major player.
Things are definitely looking up.
And yet there’s still this feeling out there that you’re basically the Anna Kournikova of Auto Racing – a pretty face and not much more, certainly not anybody to get all excited about except as far as the TV commercials and magazine centerfolds are concerned.
You’ve got to be tired of hearing that in the way of criticism, don’t you?
“Some of the things that we do in the offseason is groundwork for the future and stuff that will play out later on. And it’s an investment of your time. Other things are things that pay off and put you in front of the second-highest-rated show in history or the second-highest-selling magazine of the year. So those things do pan out and do show right away. So between Danica Racing, the business, the brand, and keeping the sponsors and everybody else happy for the immediate time, it stays pretty busy,” Patrick said in a conference call with reporters featured on today’s “SportsDominion Show.”
Notice the approach there. Patrick’s approach in dealing with her critics mirrors her approach on the track. She takes both head-on.
Patrick said today that she was happy to hear the comments from Franchitti regarding his thoughts regarding her upcoming ’08 campaign. She’s been working hard to that end in the offseason, she said.
“Something important that you can’t really do necessarily at the test is, gosh, is hope that your offseason R&D that’s been done at the shop and by the engineers works and pays off and gives you an edge. If not, you need to work hard at the test to try to find other ways to go faster – because everybody’s working in the offseason to find speed,” Patrick said.
“So there’s that, and then as a driver just pushing yourself really hard to get into that uncomfortable zone where you get comfortable for the season – because you put yourself into so many predicaments when it comes to race time that are not always the best and the easiest, that you need to get there early,” Patrick said.
“I think for me, at the beginning of this season, that I’m really becoming sort of an old person in racing – like, four years. This is my fourth year, and I’m going into this one, instead of some of the others, going, Look, if I want a shot at winning championships, everything, you’ve got to get out of the box fast. You have to go hard early and get some good results in, and don’t be too complacent, and you have to finish, because those DNFs at the beginning of the season will come to haunt you later,” Patrick said.
The offseason was also marked by her appearance in a racy Super Bowl commercial for GoDaddy.com and in the 2008 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue that had her topless (with her back to the camera) in one memorable shot.
Patrick was asked if she thought the Swimsuit Issue appearance, in particular, could provide fodder for teammates and competitors in the garage.
“To me, the Swimsuit Issue is beautiful. It’s women looking beautiful,” Patrick said. “They do a tasteful job. And I am one of a long line of celebrities that have been in that magazine. It’s the biggest issue of the year for magazines. So I am completely honored to be in it. I had a great time. Everybody was very respectful and did a great job of putting together that magazine.
“I think the Swimsuit Issue is about as far as I’d go with little clothes – but I have a hard time with never saying never, because I think that that can come to bite you later on. But let’s just say that I’m pretty happy with that line right there,” Patrick said.
Chris Graham is the executive editor of The SportsDominion.