The Official Danica Patrick Fan Site
I've followed Danica since she first raced in Indy, and became a supporter after her win at Motegi. I had the privilege of meeting and conversing with her four times at the Toronto Auto Show in February, 2009, owing to the fact that the event was barely publicised, and the weather was dreadful. She spoke to me as a fellow racing enthusiast rather than as a fan, and I know that I'll never have such an opportunity again. Where else could. one get 12 items signed and have a real conversation?
I mention all of this to establish that I am anything but a Danica dilettante, and have not supported her on a whim or because it was trendy. Prior to Danica I was only a NASCAR fan, and faithfully backed the late Dale Earnhardt. It took Danica to attract my interest to open wheel racing with her talent, charisma, beauty--I won't lie about her aesthetic appeal--and compelling story. After Dale' death on 2001, I naturally moved on to Dale, Jr. and celebrated his early successes in #8. But I knew that when he moved to Hendrick he would not be a winner. Sadly, my prediction has proven true.
All of this is by way of saying that despite her raw talent and ability to learn from additional visits to tracks, one constant failure in Danica's career, whether in Indy or NASCAR, has been her horrible qualifying. As an example I recall the 2009 Toronto race, where she qualified 16th and finished 6th. A good day, but how much better it could have been had she qualified in the top ten. This poor pattern has tarnished her career both in Indy and NASCAR, and until she qualifies consistently in the top 20 or 25, gaining 10-15 spots during the race owing to talent and teamwork will only result in mediocre finishes.
I don't know the solution to poor qualifying, but I do know that starting in the thirties will not win races, no matter how talented the racer. Both Danica and her various teams over the years share the blame for the fact that she has rarely been a good qualifier, and this has cost her victories. Just think of the many times she has made up a dozen or score of positions after starting 30th.