The Official Danica Patrick Fan Site
Three to go. Talk about it here.
Well keep in mind that it's a lot easier to block/hold off other drivers at Martinsville than it is to do so at Texas, especially considering the fact that she had an ill-handling car at Texas and therefore didn't have that many lanes to choose from to address the handling of her car. I don't disagree with any of what you said, but as you stated yourself, some of this stuff is easier said than done.
I do like the fact that you're a realist, which is fine with me.
David Williams said:
I think our expectations of what Danica can do at this point in her Sprint Cup career are possibly skewing our perceptions of what she actually is doing.
We have to remind ourselves of the numbers as they stood as of August 13, 2013: Tony Stewart had made 526 career Cup starts. Ryan Newman had made 426 career cup starts. Danica had made 32.
I think she is currently working at acquiring a lot of the skills and knowledge that we want to believe she already has.
I agree with Becky – I think she needs to work on “firing off on new tires.” And I believe I would be deceiving myself if I thought her difficulties on starts and restarts is due to a bad setup on the car. Danica has been having difficulties with starts and restarts – especially restarts – at every stage of her career that I’m aware of: in IndyCar, in Nationwide, in Sprint. The unpredictability of a restart, many cars jockeying for position in very close quarters, with drivers of varying abilities intent on moving quickly forward, has always seemed to me to bring out some sort of inhibition or extra caution in her. In NASCAR especially she often loses a lot of positions on the restart and then, after traffic becomes single file, almost immediately begins getting them back, passing the cars who were part of the freight train, so to speak. She did that today after the worst of the freight trains, I believe the actual start of the race. She has done it in the past. The setup of the car, the speed the car was capable of, these were the same when the start (or the restart) began as they were when the freight train ended, but her performance was very different.
Why are we so reluctant to acknowledge that, as a rookie in an unfamiliar race car, with so few races of this kind under her belt, not only is Danica’s lack of experience going to play an influential role, so are her emotions and attitudes? How she feels about things is going to effect how she performs as a driver. But we never mention this in our comments. In any sport I watch, football for instance (HBO has some great documentaries, “Hard Knocks,” for instance, that show this), I see how the coaches bring rookies to look honestly at themselves and their abilities, and how they use their own experience – both athletic experience and life experience – to aid their charges in gaining confidence and improving as persons as well as players. Tony Eury made rather clumsy attempts at this, pointing out how she allows other drivers to lean on her (a good example of who she is as a person influencing her performance), but his encouraging her to trade paint with them was not, in my opinion, the right advice. Taking a legitimate line in a corner in a way that “shuts the door” on someone trying to pass you is, I believe, more the kind of thing she should be encouraged to pursue, more the kind of thing that will gain the respect of her competitors.
Recently her crew chief has begun talking to others about Danica in the third person, which means it’s on a radio channel she can’t hear, thus giving us an idea of how they perceive her performance and what they’re doing to help her improve it. At one point today, as Tony Stewart and somebody, either Gibson or the spotter, were having a quiet exchange about Danica’s performance, the lead-in was murky (those murky radios!), but Stewart said in response, “I don’t know if we can fix it this time, but I’ll talk to her after.” And the other said, with some exasperation,“We do this every time.” There were many things this could have been referring to. For instance, after being told last week specifically and overtly to “block” drivers coming up from the rear, and having had her attention directed to the fact that she was “leaving the door open” and thus making it easier for oncoming drivers to pass her, she “got her head around the idea” as I described it last week and demonstrated by holding off Kurt Busch for about the last 30 laps of the race how effective she could be at this. This week I watched her leaving the door open more times than I was comfortable with, and I did not once see her handle a car coming up from the rear the way she handled Kurt last week.
I’m very glad Smoke is participating in the kind of driver coaching it seems to me she needs.
I see what you mean. The fact that under Mark Martin's "fastest lap" is the number one I would guess does not mean he was fastest on the first lap of the race.
If you are talking about the 'Fastest Lap' column...that is just telling us how many laps that car was fastest on the track not the actual lap they were the fastest or when their fastest lap was (unless I'm just missing it). :)
David Williams said:
I'm not sure what you're looking for, Becky, but I'm looking at the link you have highlighted, and I find there information showing which lap of each driver was their fastest. It's in a large section below the text immediately available when you enter it.
So somehow Danica had 3 fastest laps... Maybe when she pitted early and was on new tires, wave around laps, and/or the lap after the extra pit stop?
Any idea of where to find the data showing fastest lap information? I know on the leaderboard if you have your drivers selected at the top it will show you what that driver's fastest lap of the race was but I don't know where to find it in general for all drivers??
I wasn't really addressing her getting out of it all the speed the car has in it so much as her performance in two major areas -- starts and restarts, and how she enters and handles corners. Not only did Tony and the crew address the corner problem in this race, I seem to remember a race a few weeks ago when Smoke himself came on the radio and reminded her to stay closer to the inside of the corner on her way around it -- he pointed out that with every lap she was edging farther and farther out from the inside line. And this time somebody (Smoke? the spotter?) advised her to take a "shallower" line going into the corner, which seems to be on the same topic. And I suspect this was the issue being dealt with when someone on the team radioed her that he would like her to stay closer to the inside line when entering and exiting a corner, giving the rather odd explanation that he wanted to see if this would improve her lap times. (Wouldn't just common sense suggest that would be the result?) And I wonder if this wasn't also what Andy Petrie was talking about when he said in last year's Montreal Nationwide race that he thought she had a better chance of winning than usual because it was a track that didn't require "charging the corners," which fit her driving style. "She never charges the corners," he said, the implication being that she would have better results if she did.
David... As I said in my comments above, I think Tony G knows Smoke is listening on the radio so some of his comments are very calculated. I'm not sure why he is afraid to give her that same feedback during the race (seems like it would be more effective than waiting until after the race). I would bet you she would welcome the feedback in the moment or be able to tell him why she isn't doing what he thinks she should be doing (obviously the more detailed discussion would happen after the race and in the de-brief). But don't think for a second that Tony G isn't doing some CYA in his comments on the radio with Smoke listening (in my opinion).
Also, I don't think anyone is saying Danica doesn't have work to do on her driving but if you believe she didn't get all the car had because of her driving skill I'd say look at the practice speed charts for the weekend. The best she was in any practice was 28th in Happy Hour yet for some reason Tony G tells everyone they have a top 20 car...sorry I'm not buying it. The speed issues aren't magically going to fix themselves during the race. Sometimes they get lucky and there are lots of cautions that allow them to continue to work on the car during the race and they do hit on something. But the fact that the car seems to always be off during the start of the race tells me Tony G isn't getting a good setup on the car to start with... Again, I'm not saying Danica's inexperience isn't part of the equation but you seem to want to put it all on Danica and I think Tony G needs to improve as well.