Tired of hearing about Danica? Then quit talking about her
NASCAR driver Kyle Busch missed that memo. Otherwise, why would he have gone off a few weekends back about Danica Patrick, the Indy car driver who's in 12 Nationwide Series races in NASCAR this season.
Media should quit paying attention to Patrick and start focusing on teams that need the exposure in order to raise money, Busch said.
Does he mean teams like the one that parked a driver who'd led for four laps and was running in the Top 10 when his car developed mysterious "engine problems" Sunday? Teams that know they can make 80 grand by showing up for about a fourth of the race? Teams that have been so successful at that stunt that they're now running two cars instead of one, thus doubling the cash they pocket?
The ethics of "start and park" aside, it's a heck of a position for drivers to be in to know that no matter how well they're doing, they're not going to get to finish the race.
Busch might have been justified in griping if Patrick had expected to make the leap straight into Sprint Cup, NASCAR's elite level. He might have a point if she were just an outrageously beautiful face thrown into a stock car for no other reason than commercial appeal.
She's not, though. Does she have a learning curve? Yes, and she knows it. But it's not as if she's taking money away from drivers whose kids are starving, as Busch would have people think.
Granted, there are a lot of people who agree with Busch, such as a woman posting a comment on the story generated from Busch's rant: "THE ANNOUNCERS are pitiful to keep mentioning her name every 10-15 seconds…Makes me want to flip the channel!"
So flip the channel. That will send the message more clearly than any comment you'll leave on any Web site. Vote with your feet and walk away.
Busch, meanwhile, shouldn't blame attention to Patrick for the fact that a driver who qualified in the Top 5 finished Sunday in the garage. It's not as if GoDaddy, Patrick's main sponsor, would shift to another driver if she quit NASCAR tomorrow.
NASCAR sponsorship is not a benevolent society. It's a financial deal: Companies back drivers that they think will give then a return on their advertising dollars.
It's unfortunate for those relegated to "start and park" purgatory, but they're simply not going to generate Patrick-type sponsorship dollars even absent Patrick. They wouldn't even if announcers and writers vowed never to mention Patrick for the rest of the season.
That's racin', folks. That's life.
Copyright 2010 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.