A Danica topless selfie somehow ended up on Sports Illustrated's website

Jay Busbee

(The Danica Disclaimer: This story has nothing to do with actual racing. You knew that from the headline. Proceed accordingly.)

Danica Patrick may or may not become a championship driver one day. Either way, there's one competitor she'll never outrun: her own past.

Early Tuesday morning, the eagle-eyes at TMZ spotted a Danica selfie amid a "Throwback Thursday" collection of Sports Illustrated swimsuit photos. The collection was from 2008, and mostly shows Patrick unzipping her way out of a firesuit on a beach. But one selfie, since removed from the collection, shows Patrick with a bit too much exposed in the mirror. (Edited version above; if you simply must see the uncensored one, you're on your own.)

Big deal? Nah, since it's clearly Patrick herself taking the photo. Still, this is part of the devil's bargain that Patrick entered into early in her career, using her appearance to promote herself and her "brand." While she's consciously turned her promotional efforts in recent years to focus on her personality instead of her looks, the Internet never forgets.

Patrick has drawn the most attention in recent days for Richard Petty's comments that the only way she'd win a race would be "if everybody else stayed home." That's not entirely fair; she has as good a chance as any driver at the Daytona 500. But if she did manage to win the Great American Race, we imagine the selfie in victory lane would be just a little bit different.

Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter.