Danica Patrick crashed again at the Daytona 500 on Monday -- her third crash in as many races -- raising further doubt that she'll ever be anything more than just a pretty face in a sport filled with grizzled veterans.
Her crash during on Monday wasn't completely her fault -- she was in the wrong place at the wrong time -- but at a certain point she needs to be critiqued a bit harder for lack of success on any racing surface. She's made waves throughout the racing world from Indy Car to NASCAR, but she hasn't done much besides bring a throng of additional media and press to each stop along the way.
She's won a grand total of one race in her professional racing career -- a measly Indy Japan 300 -- yet still brings in big endorsement deals and national television commercials. To the average fan she's one of the most well-known drivers in the sport, but yet has done little to garner that level of attention besides pose in bikinis for cheesy GoDaddy.com commercials.
This isn't to say that Patrick is wholly untalented -- she has shown some very small signs of brilliance -- but she's not anywhere near the level of Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, or Matt Kenseth, who won Monday's Daytona 500. She also clearly had to have some level of talent in order to get to the professional racing stage, but it is clear that she has gotten the bulk of her opportunities due to her good looks.
Is that unfair to say? Perhaps, but it's the only rationale way to explain why a driver that had little to no success on the Indy Car division now has a sponsored car in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series.
No matter where she goes she gets a ton of attention even if she does very little to back up all of the hoopla.
To her defense she is remarkably optimistic about all of her failures.
I'm sure this is not new territory for a new driver, Patrick said after the race. I just wish it could have gone better for everybody that was so excited, especially the fans. It was great to see them cheering all around the track.
But it's not like this is the first time she has disappointed her legions of fans. In some ways she is a great role model to little girls around the world that might be interested in auto racing, but in other ways looking up to Patrick for auto racing would be like looking up to former shortstop Mario Mendoza -- known for the Mendoza Line. -- as your standard for baseball players.
Some might be willing to cut Patrick some slack because the crash at Daytona wasn't her fault, but it's not as if this hype is a new phenomenon. Every time she messes up she has people racing to defender her - perhaps to avoid sexist charges - but enough is enough.
It's a wild dream to have, but it sure would be nice for Patrick to actually be judged on her success -- or lack thereof -- and not just get a free pass from everyone because she has a nice smile and no one wants to create any waves by calling her out.