NASCAR: The Danica Patrick Rule

Before I even get to the point of my writing, I just wanted to note that I know that there will be a ton of backlash to this article, especially from fans of Danica Patrick. I’m willing to face it, because I truly believe in my opinion on this controversial decision made by NASCAR earlier this week.

Earlier this week NASCAR changed one of the rules for this weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Showdown. Originally, the driver who won the Sprint Fan Vote had to finish the Showdown on the lead lap. Now, suddenly NASCAR claims that the fan vote winner must have a car that is “race-able.”

I and many other NASCAR fans and media personnel call this the “Danica Patrick” rule. Why? Because she’s slow, not competitive, and would not be eligible to claim her fan vote victory to race in the big show on Saturday night.

Sorry! It’s time to face reality if you’re a Danica Patrick fan. She isn’t fast, she has no speed, and is always finding herself a lap down in most cases within the first 40-50 laps of a race (with very FEW exceptions)

NASCAR can deny it, but they saw this coming and knew it’d be “bad” if she wasn’t in the all-star race in her first full season in NASCAR.

Last year drivers were eligible to advanced to the all-star race if they won the fan vote and finished on the lead lap. This year, the rule was changed to include the factor of finishing on the lead lap so that a competitive driver would advance. Now, all of a sudden NASCAR claims it was a “simple oversight” and it wasn’t meant to benefit any driver.

I’m calling BS on that because it simply is exactly that…BS!

NASCAR knows the odds of Danica finishing the Showdown race a lap down were greater than her chances of winning. She’s finished on the lead lap in just two of the eleven races so far this season. Not to ignore that question that if it was a “simple” oversight, how do you leave it ignored for so long?

Matt Myftiu at Yahoo! Sports puts the entire situation in the absolute best way I’ve seen it put and agree with:

“It’s just common sense. She is, despite her struggles in her rookie season, arguably the biggest name on track other than Dale Earnhardt Jr. Having her in the All-Star Race will be huge for the ratings. And if you look at her finishes this year, she rarely finishes on the lead lap. Mostly, she is laps down.”

This is truly a story to good to be true almost. I find myself laughing at NASCAR and their petty attempts to cover this entire situation up as one big mishap in the rules.

David Ragan, who won just a few weeks ago at Talladega, agrees with the majority opinion too.

“I don’t need to say any names,” Ragan said “We can all assume and make pretty good guesses. But there’s usually good reasons for making any rule change.

You need to be competitive. It’s a contradicting rule. So you can’t be torn up and get in, but if you’re slow and not on the lead lap, why should you be in the All-Star race? In my opinion, that’s not a good rule for the intent of the All-Star race. The All-Star race is supposed to be about the best of the best.”

NASCAR deserves every bit of criticism it faces over this and their reputation deserves to be hurt after this. Let the rules be the rules, and don’t change it for the sake of ratings. NASCAR made it this far without Danica, leaving her out of one race isn’t going to kill the sport.

So let the hate for my opinion begin! Did NASCAR change the rules for Danica? Why or Why Not? Let me know in the comments!

Yes, I get it, you think 40 laps isn’t enough, but NASCAR didn’t want to risk the worst happening from keeping the biggest name in racing out of their biggest race.

Tags: Charlotte Motor Speedway Danica Patrick NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race Sprint Cup Series

  • Katie Copple

    I won’t even tell you my actual opinion on this piece. Frankly, I think it’s rude. It is her FIRST season in Sprint Cup and only her second full year in NASCAR. She is performing well compared to her teammate Tony Stewart. This rule was only out in place last season and in the history of the All-Star race, only 7 cars have finished off of the lead lap. This isn’t the “Danica Patrick” rule. I don’t care if you are a fan or not…this isn’t her fault. NONE of the media craziness is her fault… yet the blame falls on her. She is out there to improve and learn and be the best driver she can be. And as far as her not being fast and having no speed? That is a bunch of crap. Let’s let her get through her first full season in this series before saying something like that.

    • Bryant Douglass

      I’m not criticizing her success this year. She wasn’t ready to move up and her sponsor pushed her to. However this rule Was changed because NASCAR doesn’t want to face the potential of Danica not finishing on the lead lap based on what she has done this year. No doubt with each year a driver gets better but she isn’t an all star this year and everyone knows she will rely on the fan vote to get in.

  • Michele McNamara

    Of course they changed it for Danica, if not, why the change? NASCAR makes it more and more difficult foe the fan to stay a fan.

  • Brenda

    well we have to blame NASCAR for this one and let’s face it Nascar does manipulate the races…..

  • RobertRich

    Obviously it’s a rule for Danica, but to be completely fair, 2012 was the only year that required the fan vote winner to finish on the lead lap. It never was required in previous years, just simply assumed by folks. Clearly they made the change to get her in the race though. I think it’s stupid and she 100% doesn’t deserve to be in it, but that’s the fact of the sport right now.

    • Bryant Douglass

      I agree with you Robert, but I know there will be a ton of hate from Danica fans to this article. I mean, I get their points too, but simply put this year she doesn’t deserve to be in it. I’d be willing to be millions I don’t have on the fact that her and David Ragan will battle it out for last place in the big event.

      • RobertRich

        Yeah, I’m with you. In my opinion, “All-star” should mean, ya know, people actually good and capable of winning a race. But to everyone else it’s a popularity contest.

        She definitely won’t repeat Kasey Kahne’s performance of being the fan vote and then winning the event.

        • Bryant Douglass

          Yep, like MLB, NBA, NFL, they all vote but they vote for true all-stars and don’t vote a popular athlete who isn’t good on the court just because of their popularity. Danica may be a great driver one day, but she isn’t ready to be where she is now and that’s my point. Not that she sucks, but she’s in a league she isn’t ready for. She was just getting the hang of the NNS car last year and then moves up. Not a smart move. Should have watched JPM’s career.

  • Steve Budde

    This Danica fan agrees with you.

    I am now and always have been a fan or hers and it appears that this rule change was perhaps made with her in mind. I see this as no different from the past champions provisional rule AKA the Richard Petty Rule or the Promoters Option AKA the Dave Marcus rule from years gone by.
    This race is nothing but NASCAR’s self promotion, and to that I say, SO WHAT? It has no impact on points or the championship so in the end what is the big deal? It’s hype about a race that exists to create hype.

    Here is the real question; what if Danica doesn’t need to use this rule and one of the other big names benefits? Will everybody still be so upset by the change?

    • Bryant Douglass

      The rule wasn’t implemented because they know she’s going to need it. It’s there in the to prevent the worst from happening and that is her going a lap down in just forty laps.

  • Matt Schafer

    The key word here is “Star” Danica is clearly a NASCAR Star. Speed and star power are two different things.