Friday, October 24, 2014

Danica Patrick: 'I didn't need a program' to get into NASCAR

   During a press conference Friday at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, Sprint Cup Series driver Danica Patrick was asked about the success of NASCAR's diversity program for minority and female drivers since two teams were honoring NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee Wendell Scott with special paint schemes this weekend.

   Patrick seemed to question the need for the program in a back-and-forth exchange with a reporter.

   "I've never benefited from NASCAR's diversity program," she said. "... Well, clearly, then I wouldn't think there needs to be a diversity program if I'm here and I didn't get in. 

   "It wasn't like they asked me to be in it. They didn't give my team or me any money, they didn't say, 'We'd love you,' you know? So I would say that you have to just make it. I'm not saying that being a girl hasn't helped, but I didn't need a program to make it happen."

   Friday night, Jim Cassidy, senior vice president of racing operations, provided the following statement to the Observer in response to Patrick's comments:

   "We're fortunate that there are many different paths of entry into our sport for our participants. We have seen a growing number of talented diverse and female drivers compete in NASCAR thanks to our Drive for Diversity program started in 2004. We’re very proud of the program, which also recruits and trains pit crew members, and remain more committed than ever to it."


SHR: Danica Patrick and Kurt Busch team swaps 'right thing' for long-term growth

   Many fans of NASCAR driver Danica Patrick were caught off guard by Stewart-Haas Racing's decision this week to swap the road crews and crew chiefs on Patrick and Kurt Busch's teams, especially since Patrick seemed to be making some progress this season. 

   Greg Zipadelli, SHR's competitor director,was asked Friday why the organization would want to upset an arrangement that seemed to be making progress. Here is his response:

   "I think long term it’s the right thing. There might be a step backwards while they get to learn each other and they grow, but long term, a full year, two years from now I think their personalities between Daniel (Knost) and Danica will work together much better. I think at the same time the same thing will happen on the No. 41 car. That is a team that we have to get going immediately. There isn’t a lot of time for growth," Zipadelli said.

   "We know Kurt is kind of in the prime of his career. We know that he can go out and win races and every race track we go to. We have got to give him that and we have to give Danica the ability to continue to grow and build a relationship with somebody, because she plans on being here a while. We just look at that and it’s kind of the best of both worlds right now. We have both people in house.  One thing we don’t like to do is bring people in from the outside and try them. We like to try to promote and give the people at Stewart-Haas the opportunity. That is kind of why we elected to do what we did.”