NASCAR Fans Fail To See Big Picture In Dissing Danica

Photo by Alan Marler/Harold Hinson Photography

By Jerry Jordan, Editor
LONG POND, Pa. – My intentions were to write a column this week about the truck race at Texas Motor Speedway and why tracks need to figure out a way to do something with the grassy infield areas that keep causing drivers to flip or destroy racecars but that changed when I viewed the video of Danica Patrick “refusing to sign autographs” at Pocono Raceway.

There are several drivers who get a lot of flak for not signing everything a fan shoves in front of them as they walk to their cars or to and from the garage area – Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowksi, Joey Logano, Danica Patrick, etc. Some are more polite about it than others but it happens. Every. Single. Week. And when anyone but Dale Earnhardt Jr. walks past and declines an autograph request, fans get upset – sometimes even angry.

No, I am not picking on Dale Jr. I am not stupid. One-tenth of one percent of his fanbase is still 10 times larger than my entire Twitter following and I don’t need to spend the next month responding to them. However, Dale Jr., who does yeoman’s work with fan interaction, gets a pass when he passes on by rather than diverting his focus towards autograph hunters.

Now, the previous sentence contains two critical words – focus and hunters – of which I will try to explain. Focus is what drivers need to do in order not to plow their racecars into a wall at 200 mph. It doesn’t just start when they strap-in or climb from the car after a run. The garage is their office. It is where racecar drivers do their job and diverting their attention while en route to a debrief session with their crew could seriously impact how they perform on the track.

The hunters are, in many cases, professional autograph seekers trying to get something signed for the 27th time so they can sell it on eBay, on any number of collector sites on Facebook or blog sites across the Internet. Sure, most people really are fans. However, don’t think for one second that drivers don’t recognize someone who has repeatedly foisted hero card after hero card and diecast after diecast in front of them. I am not saying that is what happened with Patrick but drivers know the game.

That brings us to the Facebook Live video capturing Patrick’s comments explaining to fans that her job is to drive a racecar. She used some colorful language but she was speaking from the heart and that should be respected. Patrick was trying to explain to adults that she is a human, she has feelings and it does hurt that she gets booed for doing her job. She is correct, her job is to drive a racecar but part of her extra-curricular activities include interacting with fans by posing for hundreds of selfies and signing thousands of autographs. (Cont. Reading Below Video)

 

But wait, before the Danica-haters say “gotcha” and think that I am agreeing with them on this issue, it’s not that simple. I said it is part of her job. I didn’t say when she had to do it. For one, I have seen Patrick go out of her way to sign autographs for fans – usually children. Why? Because they don’t understand the difference between being focused on racing and ignoring their pleas for a memorable moment with their hero driver.

In contrast, it was rather interesting to listen to the comments from the adults acting like children as the heckled her in the video. They were big and bad until she came over to them. Then, when it was over, they boasted about wishing they had video because it would go “viral.” Thankfully, there was video. While some may disagree with Patrick’s handling of the situation, the video shows just how fickle NASCAR fans can be and how easy it is for them to take shots at anyone who doesn’t do exactly what they want, when they want it.

For the record, the primary photo for this column was taken this week at Pocono Raceway and Patrick, along with nearly every other driver in the garage signed their names to dozens of fan mementos – some of which are already posted for sale online.

As for grass at racetracks, I’ll let you guys go ask Kyle Busch what he thinks. Be sure to record it because that video might go viral, as well.

3 Comments

  1. Chris Lanko

    June 12, 2017 at 1:43 pm

    Good God ,this is a bigger fluff piece than anything Pockgrass could ever write.The garage is her office and she needs to focus. On What? How to make sure that she’s in the right spot hanging back when ther’s a wreck so she can gain spots in her usual fashion:Attrition? Seems to me that Richard Petty also drove (unlike her ) a RACE CAR. The garage was his office also but he always managed to find time to sign autographs for the fans. And in order to do so he stayed until everyone there that wanted one ,got one.He is a person just like her but he and the majority of the drivers have what she lacks :Appreciation for the fans .We are the ones who allow her to take up space on the track and keeping a better racer (which she isn’t )get a ride for a top flight team !

  2. kb

    June 13, 2017 at 5:20 am

    Wow Jerry you crawled out from a rock and got a hit on JAYSKI. Read your lies..and it seems you are still at it. Why? You seem to have some issues, imo…the truth being one of them. JUST MO. Maybe find another thing to write about..maybe validating someones parking ticket? Amazing BS, as always!

    EDITOR’S RESPONSE: You’re entitled to your opinion and I’m entitled to mine. The personal cheap shots aside, I’ll be visiting Hawaii later this year. Maybe, I will look you up and we can have lunch. I hear the Puffer Fish is good this time of year. You should try it. Oh yeah, thanks for letting me know Jayski picked up my column. – Jerry

  3. Steven

    June 13, 2017 at 9:49 am

    I guess you didn’t get the memo. Danica is a JOKE!!!!! She has singlehandedly diminished the Sport of Auto Racing. She has gotten rich as Nascar and TV have exploited her gender. Nascar tries to emulate the NFL yet there are no bums in the Superbowl. I’ve seen many more talented drivers in the local street stock division so no, I’m not as impressed with Danica as you are.

    EDITOR’S NOTE: Thank you, for not making your opinion a personal attack. While I disagree with you, I am happy for everyone to share their thoughts on any of the news articles or columns published at Kickin’ the Tires. – Jerry

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