Danica Patrick forgot racing is a team sport

May, 24, 2010
5/24/10
6:32
PM CT
video
Remember typewriters? All the keys could work perfectly except one. And no matter what, that one key kept screwing up that letter you were writing. The whole keyboard had to work as a team and when that one key didn’t work right, nothing worked right.

Same with auto racing.

It’s a team sport. No matter how good the driver is, if the lowest mechanic on the team failed to get that bolt tightened just right that car could not win the race. Your life is in their hands, not just the race.

Danica Patrick made a mistake following her qualifying effort for this week’s Indy 500: She threw her team under the front of her car and ran over them right there in front of the gods of the Brickyard. You just know Foyt, Unser, Mears and the rest had to just shake their heads.

Patrick publicly criticized her car following a qualifying run that left her starting 23rd, her worst career start at Indy. She was visibly shocked by a chorus of boos from fans in the grandstand when she said her poor qualifying run was “not my fault” and described the car’s handling as “scary.” After her poor qualifying run, Patrick was shaking and holding back tears.

Can you imagine Peyton Manning blaming the Indianapolis Colts’ loss in the Super Bowl on the poor blocking of his offensive line? “Sorry, Peyton,” says the left tackle in the next game. “I slipped. I hope that 400-pound lineman didn’t hurt you.”

“The GoDaddy car deserves to be higher up than this,” said Patrick. “It’s better than this. It’s just not set up right.”

In other words, “It’s them, not me!”

Teammate Tony Kanaan said Patrick must change her attitude.

“I think my best advice to her, which I said to her [Saturday], is you’ve got to learn from the tough times and the same guys that she finished fifth in the championship last year and won her first race with, they’re still there,” said the veteran Kanaan. “And in racing besides having the good setup and good car, I believe your attitude counts a lot.

“And she definitely needs to change her attitude,” he said.

Patrick appeared upset with the response from the fans.

“I say one thing confident out there, that it’s not me, and everybody boos me,” she said. “I don’t know, maybe they were booing me before, but some of them were probably cheering for me before. I’m not a different driver than I was five years ago.”

No, but perhaps she’s a different person.

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