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Happy Hour: Danica Patrick vs. Johanna Long, who ya got?

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Johanna Long and Danica Patrick. (Getty Images)

Welcome to the latest Happy Hour mailbag! You know how these work: You write us with your best rant/ joke/one-liner at happyhournascar@yahoogroups.com or on Twitter at @jaybusbee, we respond to your messages, everyone goes away with a smile on their face.

It's almost Olympic time, and like pretty much everyone else around these parts, I'll be doing a bit of Olympic coverage at Fourth Place Medal. Come hang. For those of you familiar with our race-day chats, I'll be live-chatting the Opening Ceremony on Friday night. And yes, I will give Junior updates.

Now, to your letters. A quiet week in the off-week; bring some heat for me!

We all know Danica Patrick gets a ton of coverage no matter how she runs. A lot of people believe this is because she is a woman breaking into the NASCAR field. However, there is another female racer who runs in the NNS and receives absolutely no coverage at all: Johanna Long. Johanna has run 12 races, sits 18th in the standings (21st overall), has an average finish of 21.5 and drives for a completely underfunded team. Danica has run all the races, sits 9th in points (12th overall), has an average finish of 19.6 and drives some of the best equipment in the series and access to a top-tier team. Why does NASCAR prop up Danica but not Johanna?

— Sean
San Diego

The Danica-vs.-Johanna question is starting to really gain some traction, and it's at least in part a response to the overwhelming hype that accompanies every move Danica Patrick makes. (And before you start lobbing "It's the media's fault!" bombs at me: you people stop clicking on Danica stories, we'll stop printing 'em.) But the fact of the matter is that Patrick hasn't had a particularly significant season. You've got to wonder, based on what we've seen so far, about the wisdom of rushing her into Cup next year. As for Long? She's got plenty of potential but, as yet, no marketing cachet. That's as much a part of NASCAR as tires and Southern accents, so don't go complaining about it. Still, enough reaction to Long and she might just end up vaulting into a better ride next year. I don't think anyone is deliberately trying to keep her down, but like everyone who's not blessed with a readymade sponsor, a marketing team or a fortuitous last name, she'll have to fight for all that she gets.

And hey, speakin' of lady racers, let's talk Amber and Angela Cope versus Kevin Harvick!

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I guess the headlines could have read "Silly little girls! Don't mess with mean old Mister Harvick!" At a time when "Mister Entitlement" should have been the most magnanimous, and joyful about his new blessed baby, he decided to become a misogynistic dork. What is so "un-wrong" or even acceptable about his rant about Miss Cope? And using Danica in the argument was blatantly sexist. Would he ever refer to fellow gentleman drivers in this fashion? I doubt it. As a longtime female fan, his lack of respect for the women breaking into this sport concerns me. Harvick's behavior was wrong and I wish that NASCAR would have addressed this as they seem to so capriciously seem to do about anything else. Oh , and the media (all of you!) could have done a better job covering this story instead of worrying about Twitter feuds!!

Rant over. Thanks.

Becca
North Carolina

Um ... sorry? Anyway, I'm of two minds here. First, yeah, Harvick was a bit of a clown for acting that way and being deliberately sexist and condescending. Dude, if you don't like how the Nationwide drivers race, don't race Nationwide ... the whole point of the series is that it's not the skill level of you and your Sprint compatriots. On the other hand ... isn't having different standards for different genders sexist in itself? Pretty much everything is fair game once you strap in behind the wheel to run with the big dogs. Yeah, kind of a classless move on Harvick's part, but I'm glad NASCAR didn't step in. I like when drivers stake out personality turf. Distinguishes 'em from one another, you know?

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Can you give a few pointers for etiquette at dirt tracks as it relates to NASCAR drivers in attendance? Had my first WoO experience at Williams Grove this weekend. Smoke, my favorite driver, was in attendance to drive and support his team. Prior to the race, I had an opportunity to get his autograph in the pit area however, I observed that every time someone walked up to him for a picture or signature, he had a sourpuss look on his face. I decided not to go after the autograph. Should I have sucked it up and went in for the kill anyway? Doesn't he expect to be hounded at these smaller venues when he shows up?

ChetaNicole

Yeah, you should've sucked it up. Look, here's the deal: these guys know that wherever they go, they're going to get people nagging them for autographs. As long as it's not the bathroom, a wedding or a funeral, most are pretty cool about signing something. It's best to be polite and prepared — have a pen and one item ready — and don't spend fifteen minutes telling them about the time you saw them back in 2005 in Martinsville, remember, Tony? I was in the red t-shirt and yelling "Go Smoke!" up in Turn 3? You don't remember? Huh. Anyway, look at it this way: you either get the autograph (score) or you get a good story about Tony Stewart biting your head off (double score).

Also, if you spot me at a NASCAR track, I'll sign anything. Shoot, I might even come crash at your place if I don't have anywhere to stay. Lucky you.

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I happen to like the debris cautions. It is terrible when races go caution-free and there are thirteen cars on the lead lap, with the second-place driver six seconds back. But perhaps many are correct that NASCAR should do away with this. Perhaps NASCAR should institute the "random" caution. Twice during the race a "random caution" flag is thrown. Caution flags are a necessary evil.

Thomas Halecky

Yeah, I'm with you. Sometimes a little ol' field-bunching is necessary. NASCAR ought to take a page from soccer, which has this extra bonus time at the end of the match to account for all the time wasted while some European dude was flopping like he'd been shot by a sniper after some other dude came within three feet of him. Thing is, you never know how long this extra time is; it could be one minute or five. NASCAR needs to have a designated set of laps right in the pit window for these "random" cautions. You never know when it'll be thrown and you'll be in the pits! Drama! (Of course, TNT would be on a commercial break when it happened. Mashed potatoes and gravy!)

And on that note, we're out. Thanks to all our writers this week. You want in? Fire up the computer and hit us with whatever's on your mind, NASCAR-wise, at happyhournascar@yahoogroups.com. You can find Yahoo! Sports' NASCAR coverage on Facebook right here, and you can follow me on Twitter at @jaybusbee and on Facebook here. Make sure to tell us where you're from. We'll make you famous!

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