Crew chief backs Danica Patrick
BROOKLYN, Mich. -- The crew chief for Danica Patrick believes the Nationwide Series driver is being put in bad situations because competitors don't like losing to a woman.
When Austin Dillon got Patrick loose during Saturday's Nationwide Series race at Michigan, forcing her to spin out for the second of three times, Tony Eury Jr. radioed to his driver, "They hate that you're running this good."
"I've heard comments made, 'Well, why is the 7 running so good? The girl is getting better and better,' " Eury said after the former IndyCar star finished 18th in a race she was in the top 10 most of the day. "It's to the point where she's running with the competitive guys.
"We all have egos. We don't want the girl to outrun us. It's a fact of she's getting put in some situations where she doesn't need put into because they're taking advantage. If she's loose, they'll get up under her right rear or whatever."
Eury spent 10 minutes talking to his JR Motorsports driver immediately after the race, then another 15 minutes after she did interviews. He told her she needs to pay attention to what drivers are doing to her so "when she gets as good as them, she can repay the favor."
Patrick spun out on the first lap but avoided contact with the wall and other cars. She rallied and was running top 15 when Dillon got her loose on lap 104.
She was running eighth when Brad Sweet got her loose on lap 114. The last time, she made contact with the wall.
"When you're racing with new people, you're trying to earn each other's respect," Patrick said. "You're saying, 'This is where I want to be.' I think I was racing with different people lately. You have to feel each other out."
Dillon's move infuriated Eury. He told Patrick she needed to fight back if she wants to earn respect and drive in this sport for a long time.
"He was driving underneath people and getting them loose," Eury said. "It's a little trick he likes to do. Eventually, he'll be racing with guys who are going to do it to him a lot. He's not going to go up in the Cup Series and start running up underneath them guys back bumper, because they will teach him a lesson and do it right back."
Patrick's goal is to run full time in the Cup series next year with Stewart Haas Racing. Eury hopes experiences such as Saturday will help when she gets there.
"I want her to remember how certain people race her, remember how certain guys race you, so when she gets to his level, she can race them back like that,'' Eury said. "That's it."