I have never been impressed with the skills displayed by Danica Patrick behind the wheel of a race car. In fact, if I saw her driving a Toyota Camry on the I-15 Freeway I would give her a wide berth. She won an IRL race because the twelve cars that were faster than her ran out of gas, but… Today was a new peak in dumbass.
The new paving at Daytona has created a situation where a two car hookup is faster than a single car or a multi-car draft, and by quite a lot. The pushing car overheats rather quickly, however, so the two cars have to swap places at frequent intervals. That has been the main topic of talk by fans, commentators, and drivers for the past three weeks, and the drivers have been refining the swap procedure during practice sessions.
In today’s Nationwide race Danica Patrick had a wicked fast car, and was staying close to the leaders even though, initially, no one was willing to hook up with her because she is untested. Finally Clint Bowyer hooked up and pushed her and they took off like a rocket, pushing Patrick into the race lead. Impressive, to say the least.
Then Bowyer pulled down for the swap and Patrick did not have the faintest clue what to do about it. The two of them remained separated on the track as one pair of cars after another blew past them like they were standing still. Without her doing her part, Bowyer could not get by her, and his car was too hot for him to resume pushing. Then the television audio presented her communication with her pit.
"If he wants me to get behind him and push,” she said on the radio to her crew chief, “I can try to do that, but you guys need to tell me what to do here. I'm just keeping it flat on the floor."
If I were her crew chief, I would have been on the comms screaming at her, “What do you mean ‘if’ you silly half wit?”
There were a lot of people in Europe that didn’t know that Bowyer wanted her to get behind him and push him. There were some people in America watching basketball who didn’t know that. Everyone within about thirty miles of Daytona, everyone watching the television, and certainly everyone on the speedway knew that he wanted her to get behind him and push. But Danica needed for “you guys to tell me” to do that.
What planet had she been on for the past three weeks?
Notably, after that drafting debacle the other drivers avoided her like the Bubonic plague, which is why she could not keep that rocket ship on the lead lap.