Drivers…and Danica

Overview

Jimmy Johnson won the Daytona 500 yesterday, and also destroyed his car in his celebration. Ray Lewis waved the flag to begin the race. Then there is Danica Patrick.  She has had plenty of attention because of advertisements in the past, but she truly deserves some credit after starting from the pole position and finishing the race in 8th place.

Summary and Analysis

Let me start by stating that I completely understand that no other race car driver would get nearly the amount of attention that Danica Patrick has received in the post-race coverage, or even after she earned the right to start first in the race.  I also do not think it is necessary for her to get more attention than Jimmy Johnson.  That said, Patrick deserves a lot of credit after this weekend.

From the beginning of the race, the attention was completely on Danica.  This was partially because she was starting from the pole position, but lets be honest, it was mostly because she is the only woman in the race who was also starting first.  While I do not at all think the Great and Powerful Oz, James Franco, meant it offensively (or possibly meant to use those words at all), this version of “Gentlemen, start your engines” was not the gender-neutral start that was expected…

With all eyes on her, Danica Patrick came through and had a solid race.  Patrick finished 8th and stayed in the top 10 the entire race.  She also led for five laps.  In a post-race interview on ESPN, Patrick seemed disappointed about the race but did point out that she is now one of 13 drivers in history to have led both the Indianapolis 500 and Daytona 600.  She was pleased with this because it was about all drivers.

Some say Danica Patrick “matters” because she is a good role model and people are interested in her.  This weekend she proved this is true, but more importantly she showed she can make history as a driver and that there is a lot more she wants to achieve.

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