by Ryan Isley
Danica Patrick wants to send a message. It is time that NASCAR sends one right back.
For the second time this season, Danica intentionally wrecked a fellow competitor this past weekend when she spun Landon Cassill about halfway through the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway. The first time she did it was at Talladega in the Nationwide Series Aaron’s 312 when she wrecked Sam Hornish, Jr. after the race was over.
After the wreck at Kansas, Danica was interviewed on ESPN, where she admitted that she caused the wreck on purpose.
“You know I have just been really frustrated with the 83 (Cassill). He slammed into me on the front straight for no other reason than his radio communication of ‘she was in the way.’ I have always played fair. If it is one time I can imagine frustration but it has been pretty consistent with him getting into me so at some point in time I’ve got to stand up for myself of everybody’s gonna do it. The bummer is that this was my Texas car that we were having a good run that we were making the car better and I am out of the race and he’s not.”
“I didn’t hit her because she was in my way and I wanted to pick on her, I hit her because she was driving like an idiot for 30th.”
The problem here is that NASCAR has allowed Danica to do whatever she wants whenever she wants and didn’t discipline her after the altercation with Hornish, Jr., letting her think that she can just go out and wreck other drivers when she isn’t happy.
With that thinking in the back of her mind, Danica again allowed her temper to get the best of her by wrecking Cassill at Kansas.
Well this time, NASCAR needs to react. What they should do is suspend Danica for the two remaining Sprint Cup races she is scheduled to drive (Texas and Phoenix). They should, however, allow her to continue driving in the Nationwide Series for the remainder of the season.
Think this seems harsh? Well NASCAR suspended Kyle Busch for an entire weekend (both Nationwide and Sprint Cup) last season for wrecking Ron Hornaday on purpose during the Camping World Truck race at Texas. NASCAR cannot continue to allow Danica to play by one set of rules while the other 42 drivers on the track are forced to play by a different set.
It also isn’t fair to the 12 drivers who are in the Chase (11 with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. all but eliminated) that Danica be permitted to cause havoc when she is on the track. What would NASCAR had done if Danica’s little stunt at Kansas would have also collected one of the 11 drivers who are racing for a championship? It wouldn’t be fair for those drivers to lose their title hopes because she feels that she has to take things into her own hands.
Allowing Danica to continue her reckless ways without any discipline would send the wrong message to the rest of the drivers in the series. It would tell them that NASCAR is too scared to do anything to Danica because of the earning potential she brings.
Not only would it send the wrong message to the other drivers, but it would put the other drivers in harms way – something NASCAR does not need right now. After seeing Earnhardt, Jr. miss two races due to concussions, the last thing NASCAR wants to see is a driver get injured and be forced out of the car. If it would happen because another driver was acting out of anger, it would be even worse for the sport.
Danica wants to talk about respect and how she wants to be treated like any other driver. Before saying things like that, maybe she should think back to Daytona at the beginning of the season where she was given preferential treatment when Dave Blaney was forced to give his points to Danica so that she would have an automatic spot in the Daytona 500 while Blaney would have to race his way in with no guarantee.
It seems that Danica only wants to be treated like every other driver when it benefits her but wants to be able to live by her own rules when it doesn’t. NASCAR needs to step in and show Danica that the preferential treatment stops now before it gets too far out of hand.
The problem is that I don’t think anyone in NASCAR has a set of stones big enough to sit Danica down. And that’s a damn shame.
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