Just freakin’ awesome.
When Patrick decided to make the move to the Nationwide Series and begin racing for Jr. Motorsports, I was ecstatic. I don’t normally follow Indy cars, but I have been somewhat of a fan of Patrick regardless. The news that she was making the move to NASCAR was really good news… in part because, obviously, I’ve been a fan, but also because I have always hoped that female drivers would make a bigger impact on NASCAR race venues.
I got some flak from a couple friends of mine about that… mostly due to the fact that the media was – naturally – making a big deal out of it. However, I always knew that she had it in her to make a name for herself beyond the flim and flam of glamour, photo shoots, and all that crap on the track itself… and she proved it today.
Today at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the Nationwide Sam’s Town 300, Danica finished a careful and calculated 4th place finish after being a lap down earlier in the race. Not only is this just awesome – but she made NASCAR history by becoming the first and only female NASCAR driver to finish 4th or higher in the entire history of the sport. The only other woman that came close was Sara Christian in the 1949 NASCAR race at Heidelberg Raceway – and she finished 5th.
A lot of people, even drivers inside NASCAR itself, have not been very positive about female drivers in the sport for a long time… a sentiment that I’ve always found to be snobbish, pig headed, and chauvinist. As a result, there hasn’t been a lot of them over the years… but that’s changing. Female drivers are starting to become more and more prevalent in the sport now, with drivers like Jennifer Jo Cobb and Johanna Long, who are both full time Camping World Truck drivers (Cobb also is starting part time in Nationwide this season), and a few others with part time starts in Trucks and Nationwide last season.
So this is just awesome. She didn’t get 4th in this race on fuel mileage, like she did her win in Indy in Japan three years ago… she got 4th by driving through the field, passing cars, and making good decisions on the track… driving her own race, running her line and staying out of trouble. For everyone that didn’t think she could do it, there you go. Expect to see a lot more of Danica as things go forward – I for one expect to see her in victory lane possibly by next season.