Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Danica Patrick is a lightning rod in the sport that is NASCAR. Everything that Patrick says and does gets the utmost attention whether it really should or not. Patrick is a female athlete in a sport that has long been dominated by men, that alone puts her in the spotlight. Moreover, Patrick is also a marketing machine which thrusts her even further into the public eye. Whether you support Patrick or not; the only fair way to judge her is based on her numbers and six races into her third full season her numbers simply don’t lie.
Patrick is slowly but surely becoming a better driver and there really isn’t any arguing it. Many critics are quick to point out that she has never won a race or finished in the top-five in 88 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events and they would be correct. In fact, if I was trying to argue that Patrick is one of the sports greatest drivers those folks could easily use that argument against me. However, I’m not making that argument because she isn’t one of the greatest drivers in the sport but she is becoming better.
Let’s take a look at some numbers that Patrick has piled up since 2012.
Average Starting Position:
- 2012 – 36.1
- 2013 – 30.1
- 2014 – 22.3
- 2015 – 20.0 (through six races)
Average Finishing Position:
- 2012 – 28.3
- 2013 – 26.1
- 2014 – 23.7
- 2015 – 19.3 (through six races)
Every year Patrick has improved her average qualifying and finishing positions. Six races into 2015 both of those stats are the highest that they have ever been in her career. She has also improved some of her other numbers across the board which can be seen below. Please note that she only ran 10 races during the 2012 season.
Lead Lap Finishes
- 2012 – 1
- 2013 – 12
- 2014 – 19
- 2015 – 4 (through six races) She is on pace for 24 this season.
- 2012 – 0
- 2013 – 5
- 2014 – 15
- 2015 – 0 (through six races)
- 2012 – 0
- 2013 – 1
- 2014 – 3
- 2015 – 1 (through six races) She is on pace for six this season.
Coming into 2015 she has had more finishes on the lead lap, more laps led and more top-10 finishes each season that she is in NASCAR. Through six races this season she is on pace to finish the season with a new best in finishes on the lead lap and top-10 finishes in a single season. Once again, Patrick is improving every single season thus far. Is it possible that she could take a nosedive and not have a good 2015 for the rest of the year? Sure, anything is possible but her numbers don’t suggest that will be the case.
More from Danica Patrick
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- Danica Patrick nominated for Game Changer People’s Choice Award
- Danica Patrick makes an appearance in Maroon 5 music video
- Danica Patrick to host 2018 ESPY Awards
- Indy 500: IndyCar cannot afford a Danica Patrick victory
Aside from the stats mentioned above, Patrick is also on pace to set personal bests for number of laps completed and the number of miles driven in a single season. Like the majority of her stats, those numbers also have gotten better each season that she has been racing.
Those who are against Patrick will always be against her. Some of the common critiques are that some feel that a woman has no place in NASCAR while others feel that she is just her to make money for SHR and that she is overhyped in every sense of the word. For those that don’t believe she belongs in the sport because of her sex; well that’s an entirely different conversation and those folks need to realize that it’s 2015. When it comes to the marketing thing; NASCAR is all about marketing. The cars, the drivers, the sponsors, the names of the races; it’s all marketing. Denny Hamlin, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick and Dale Earnhardt Jr. all make commercials and do a lot of marketing for their teams and sponsors. When it comes to NASCAR marketing is the name of the game and if your driver has something to offer than it’s a win-win for everyone.
As far as being overhyped goes? Some fans often confuse overhyped with overexposed. Patrick is nowhere near overhyped because nobody is out there talking about how she is going to win races and championships. Just because she gets a lot of media coverage, TV time and interviews it doesn’t mean that there are suddenly expectations for who to achieve greatness. Patrick isn’t overhyped, certain fans just feel that she is overexposed and as a result that line has been blurred.
Again, if you want to fairly judge Patrick and where she is in NASCAR the only way to do it is by looking at her numbers. Numbers and stats don’t lie. The bottom line when it comes to Patrick is that she keeps getting better. Will she ever win races and championships? Who knows, but her future success or failures don’t erase what she has accomplished and the improvements that she has made up to this point.
Patrick is slowly but surely becoming a better driver and there really isn’t any arguing it