This is something that is very difficult for me to imagine.
But there is a NASCAR event involving Danica Patrick that is being underplayed.
Patrick winning the pole for the Daytona 500 is the biggest thing that’s happened in NASCAR for at least 10 years, or perhaps 12.
I write this on the morning after my esteemed colleague Ken de la Bastide undervalued her achievement in his column for us. This was not a surprise.
His dislike for Patrick is well documented, so when she accomplished something spectacular, he buried it deep into his column and then only used mention of it to predict her failure this coming Sunday in the race.
It seems to me that Patrick is headed for a big Sunday and a big season. This is her best opportunity ever to show off her immense skills. She never had that chance in open-wheel racing. Anyone who believes she was given the same chance to win as any driver in Michael Andretti’s stable has been sniffing too many fuel fumes.
It seems to me that Andretti liked the attention his team received when Patrick was part of it, but he had little desire to see her finish higher than the men on his team.
But now she has equipment at least as good as some of the best and most experienced drivers in NASCAR. She has that thanks to the confidence shown in her by Tony Stewart and his race group.
That’s where a lot of my confidence in what Patrick will accomplish this year is based. It makes no sense for Stewart to give her this chance if he didn’t think she was ready. He already has one of the top profile teams in the sport so it isn’t a publicity gimmick. In this financial climate when virtually every team is more likely to drop a car than add one, Stewart has gone the other direction. For a while all three cars were in the top three on the qualifying board last Sunday.
Now all that is left is for Patrick to go racing. I always root for Stewart and his other drivers and the Daytona 500 will be no exception. Let’s go racing, boys ... oops ... let’s just go racing.
Rick Teverbaughis a sports columnist for The Herald Bulletin in Anderson, Ind.