Thu Jun 09 01:06pm EDT
Danica Patrick is no closer to an end on her "should-I-stay-or-should-I-go" dance between the IRL and NASCAR, but should she choose to go the stock car route full time, at least one IndyCar driver doesn't see a problem if she goes.
"I think we have a lot more personalities in IndyCar than just her," Tony Kanaan said Wednesday night at Tony Stewart's Prelude to the Dream dirt-track charity race. "If we're going to think that IndyCar is depending only on her, I think people have the wrong idea."
In the interview with The Sporting News, Kanaan added that Patrick is "a big asset to the sport," but pointed out that there are other women with the potential to step up and fill the gender-based role. And talent-wise, Kanaan noted that "we have plenty of people, as far as talent goes, to replace anybody that we lose. The series right now is on a climb, and it's more competitive now than I've ever seen."
From a competition standpoint, he's right; the IRL has some of the most talented drivers in its history at the top of their game right now. But from a PR perspective, the loss of Danica Patrick would be a blow to open-wheel racing. Racing devotees howl at the attention Patrick (and, in NASCAR, Dale Earnhardt Jr.) receives for comparatively weak results, but the simple truth is that she's a personality who draws interest from a far wider audience than Kanaan, Dario Franchitti, Will Power or any other driver. It's not fair, from a competitive standpoint, but it's the way it is.
Kanaan and Patrick have a history of feuding with one another, even when they were teammates. When Patrick criticized her team during Indy 500 qualifying last year, Kanaan took pains to remind her that she should be more positive in her statements about the team. A few weeks later, after a victory in Iowa, Kanaan thanked two of his teammates but pointedly left Patrick out of his remarks.
So you have to take his remarks on Patrick in that larger context. Surely having most of the attention in IndyCar go to one driver is frustrating, but will the remaining drivers be that much better off if all that attention goes elsewhere?
Kanaan: IRL would be fine without Danica [Sporting News]
Posted Jun 24 2012
Posted Jun 24 2012
Posted Jun 23 2012