‘Payback’ Proves To Be Bad Karma For Patrick

Charlotte, NC (October, 22, 2012) – No doubt Danica Patrick has learned a lot of things in her short NASCAR career. Apparently, how to deliver a ‘payback’ isn’t one of them.

Patrick’s latest NASCAR adventure – Sunday’s 400-mile Sprint Cup event at Kansas Speedway – ended on the back of the wrecker truck after a failed attempt to crash another competitor. Yup, you read that right. Patrick destroyed her own car in trying to exact revenge on Landon Cassill for bumping incident earlier in the race.


Or clueless?

In this case, probably both.

According to Patrick, Cassill ran into her on purpose earlier in the event and later reportedly stated on his team radio that he did so because “she was in the way.”

Welcome to NASCAR Danica.

Unlike Indy Car racing where it’s borderline suicidal to make contact with another driver’s car, NASCAR drivers run into each other all the time. Most of the time, it’s accidental – a product of tight competition. Other times, it’s to gain a spot. Sometimes, it’s to voice displeasure about a previous incident.

Regardless of how you use the ‘Chrome Horn,’ there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it. On Sunday, Patrick authored a textbook version of how not to do it.

Here’s what Patrick did wrong.

First – whatever the context of the contact between Patrick and Cassill earlier in Sunday’s race, Cassill did not wreck Patrick in the incident that got her all in a tizzy. Intentionally wrecking Cassill as ‘payback’ doesn’t fit the criteria of the crime in this case.

Second – if you’re going to wad someone up on purpose, at least try to make it look like a ‘racing accident.’ Keeping your foot in the gas after initial contact and powering through another driver is a clear giveaway as to intent Danica.

Third – if your intent is to truly end someone’s day, make sure it’s their car that’s in the fence, not yours.

Patrick’s attempt at exacting revenge on Cassill turned out worse than a high school chemistry experiment as Cassill managed to control his car through a long slide and finish the race coming home 18th – equaling his best efforts (Charlotte, Michigan) of the 2012 Sprint Cup season.


In what had to truly be a bad karma moment, she lost control of her own car after initiating contact with Cassill pounding the outside retaining wall.

In the process, Patrick lost what was shaping up to be her best Sprint Cup finish of the season and destroyed her own car to boot – a car that was also scheduled to be her primary for the upcoming Texas race.

Thanks to the crash, Patrick also made a hefty double-dip withdrawal to the back account at Stewart-Hass Racing – at least a cool $150,000 for Sunday’s pile of racecar rubble – plus the cost of labor and materials to manufacture another car for her to race at Texas in a couple of weeks.

Can you say triple whammy?

Could it get any worse?

You betcha.

Patrick’s payback fiasco Sunday couldn’t have come at a worse time. While her Go Daddy race funding is secure for at least another year, the company recently retained a new ad agency in large part because of the different strategies it employed during the recently completed Summer Olympics – strategies that didn’t include Patrick.

Now there’s talk that Go Daddy’s commercials for the upcoming Super Bowl may not include Patrick. Forget the fact that Patrick has a 30.2 finishing average in her eight Sprint Cup starts this season. When post-game consumer surveys show your two Super Bowl commercials from last year’s game weigh in at 52nd and 55th out of the 55 that were aired during the event, the drums of change are sure to be beating somewhere.

To be sure, Patrick is going to be part of the NASCAR landscape for some time yet. To a degree, her rookie year struggles aren’t any different than any other new driver that comes to the sport.

That said, if you are continually running in the ‘trash line’ – the second- or third-tier group of cars on the track – getting ‘moved’ is a way of life. You’re back there for a reason. You’re not fast enough, or skilled enough yet, to consistently race with the leaders.

In Patrick’s case, she’s neither. Not yet. Maybe not ever. After all, she’s not going to get any better spending time in the garage area because of self-inflicted errors in judgment – and displays of lack of skill – like those she exhibited Sunday at Kansas.

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