It’s about time! It took her 50 races to do the deed but Danica Patrick finally got into the winners circle Sunday morning in Japan.
When she crossed the finish line past Heilo Castroneves, the500 pound gorilla that was on her back lifted off. It was a relief for not only her team but for those that stand in her corner. If auto racing had a Mount Rushmore for women, she, along with Janet Gutherie, Lynn St. James and Shirley Muldoney would be on it.
No more “Danica can’t win” jokes. No more “Yes, she’s good but..” comments. Maybe even Dan Wheldon will come to her and apologize for that little tiff the two had in Milwaukee last year.
In the past years, since she has been in Indy racing, Patrick has also had to deal with sexist remarks from fellow racers, who feel that auto racing is a man's sport. In May 2006, after an appearance on EPSN’s SportsCenter, she made comments that did not set well with the good old boys ( NASCAR).
Former driver Richard Petty responded in a separate interview, by stating, "I just don't think it's a sport for women, and so far, it's proved out. It's really not. It's good for them to come in. It gives us a lot of publicity, it gives them publicity. But as far as being a real true racer, making a living out of it, it's kind of tough.” Oh really, Richard? Can a race car tell the difference between a woman an a man? Can it tell if the driver is Caucasian, African-American, Hispanic, Asian or Arabic? Can it tell if the driver is gay, straight or bisexual? More importantly, can it even tell if the driver is Roman Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Islamic or hedonist? The answers to all of those questions are NO! She got the job done, so for anyone that thinks otherwise, please go back to your caves now. Even though I am not only an open-wheel racing fan but a Castoneves fan, I felt that I needed to cheer for her.
Does this mean that she’s got a shot at winning the checkered flag at Indy and drinking from that bottle of milk as so many males have done before? It could happen. Right now, she’s got a date in Kansas City this weekend. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. At least she won. At least she’s no Anna Kornakova.
Right now, Danica has gotten more exposure for her win than for the “Go Daddy.com” ad that didn’t air during this past season’s Super Bowl. She was also Nickelodeon’s Kids Choice Award for favorite female athlete for this year.
Her time came. It came at the right moment. It may have taken place in another country but a win is a win. BANZAI DANICA!