Tuesday, September 30, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Danica at a key career moment after life changes

Danica Patrick

Danica Patrick displays the flag after winning the pole during qualifying for the NASCAR Daytona 500 Sprint Cup Series auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013, in Daytona Beach, Fla. Patrick became the first woman to secure the top spot for any Sprint Cup race. (AP Photo/Terry Renna)

By
From page B2 | February 19, 2013 |

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — For so long, Danica Patrick was just a pretty girl in a fast car surrounded by a crack marketing staff who parlayed a few golden moments on the track into worldwide fame.

Her sexy Super Bowl ads and the revealing magazine shoots quickly outnumbered her actual career accomplishments. They still do, and she routinely takes Twitter broadsides from a fan base that has resented her since she first dabbled in NASCAR three years ago. Her fiercely competitive nature and desire to keep her personal life private created the perception she is cold, standoffish,

Patrick has never flinched, and she’s not flinching now on the doorstep of the biggest moment of her NASCAR career. She learned long ago to not care what people think about her, to tune out the critics and plug away at her race craft and at building the Danica empire.

All of that should help her in the pressure cooker of Daytona this week. After all, she’s used to the spotlight more than almost any driver in history.

She already has a major accomplishment to tuck in her belt: She is the first woman in history to win the pole at NASCAR’s top level. That it came at the Daytona 500, “The Great American Race,” is somehow fitting because it is Patrick. The face of auto racing to many casual fans is now going to be the face of NASCAR every day this week leading into Sunday’s season-opener.

It comes during a rebirth for the 30-year-old Patrick.

Something shifted last season, when she realized a happy ending wasn’t going to come in her seemingly picture-perfect life. All the effort and energy dedicated to maintaining Danicamania wasn’t making her happy.

So she made significant life changes, splitting from her 47-year-old husband after seven years of marriage. In January came confirmation of what everyone in NASCAR already assumed — she was dating fellow Sprint Cup rookie Ricky Stenhouse Jr., a cowboy-hat wearing Mississippi native who takes her to Professional Bull Riding and gave her her own blinged-out cowgirl belt buckle.

Patrick came into the season with a new man, a new outlook on life and a determination to be happy on and off the track. Where that takes her is anyone’s guess because Patrick, so certain all those years she was a race car driver and had no interest in having children, is suddenly murky on motherhood.

“I don’t know. I always used to say no. Now, I don’t know. I’m in a whole new situation now,” she told The Associated Press. “I do know I wouldn’t compromise my career. I would not stop racing for that. If I did want to stop racing for that, then I would lose my passion for racing and it would be that point in time when I would want to stop racing.”

Seemingly icy all those years, Patrick is suddenly an open book. She’s done a total 180 and is putting herself out there much like a head-over-heels-in-love schoolgirl.

“People tell me I’ve changed. Maybe. I’m happy,” she said. “You get kind of giddy about it, almost. Ricky and I like talking about each other. But life is just simpler now. I feel like I don’t have to think as much. There was always an element of me that felt like I had to do the right thing all the time. Now I feel like I want to be me. I want to be relaxed, less calculated. My return on investment was not right, and I am done overthinking things.”

If it seems as though Patrick has an opportunity at a fresh start, she is adamant that is not how she views this period of change.

“I think everything you do lasts. It is who you are and where you’ve been and I wouldn’t be here today if not for all the things I’ve done up until this point,” she said. “But there are definitely some starting overs that are clear and obvious. I think I’m just doing what it takes to be happy and feeling at peace with what you do and who you are.

“I always tell everyone, kids or adults, to just be yourself and be honest and I felt like I wasn’t doing that myself.”

Patrick may sound like she’s suddenly found herself, but there’s still a ton she hasn’t figured out. She doesn’t know how long she wants to race, but says she could see herself in NASCAR another 10 years.

“I always thought I’d race for 10 years, but then I did seven in IndyCar and now I’ve done two in NASCAR,” she said. “So I am closing in on that 10 years of professional racing thing, but I am starting over and I have to start that 10-year clock over. I really don’t know. I don’t know if there’s any way to pinpoint when you are going to lose passion for it or not be competitive.”

That is certainly not now, not when Patrick is entering her first full season racing in the elite Cup Series. She drives for three-time champion Tony Stewart with sponsorship from longtime partner GoDaddy, and Stewart last year hand-picked 10 of the toughest tracks in NASCAR for Patrick to run in preparation for the move to the top series.

To say she struggled would be an understatement.

Patrick’s average start was 36th, her average finish 28th and she crashed out of two of her 10 races. Fans howled she was undeserving of her ride and didn’t warrant any media attention, then they voted her the Most Popular Driver in the second-tier Nationwide Series, where she finished 10th in points with four top-10 finishes.

That’s the irony of Patrick, who was polarizing to fans in her seven seasons of IndyCar racing. She was the first woman to lead laps in the Indianapolis 500, and her third-place finish in that race in 2009 was the highest for a woman. She’s also the only woman to win an IndyCar race, which she did in Japan in 2008.

Those three highlights were about it for Patrick, who never finished higher than fifth in the standings and had just seven podium finishes in 115 career starts. But she was IndyCar’s biggest star and the spotlight rarely reached any other drivers, which wasn’t lost on her fellow competitors.

Patrick makes no apologies for the attention she receives, and is taking a no-regrets attitude about much of her life. She’s left behind IndyCar, maybe for good — she’s sitting out the Indianapolis 500 for a second straight year — and she walked away from an unhappy marriage. She doesn’t always like the things the Danica marketing machine wants her to do, but she’s a businesswoman who learned a long time ago from Bobby Rahal to prepare for a life after racing.

If there’s anything she would do over, Patrick isn’t saying.

“I say that I learned an incredible amount in my 20s about everything, and about myself came at the end,” she said. “I learned a lot about people, relationships, business, employees. I enjoyed it all, and I learned a lot.

“But I think it took me all the way until the last year how happy it makes me to be able to be myself, and how much I like myself. And you know, you take it or leave it. That’s it. This is me, people can take it or leave it.”

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Fairfield police log: Sept. 28, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A12, 1 Comment

 
Fairfield police log: Sept. 27, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A12, 1 Comment

Suisun City police log: Sept. 28, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A12

 
Suisun City police log: Sept. 27, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A12

Police search for missing man

By Glen Faison | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
 
Measure A committee plans weekend precinct walk

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A5

 
Voters who have moved urged to check registration

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A5

Caltrans cancels nighttime Highway 37 closures

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A5

 
.

US / World

5 more bodies found at Japan volcano; toll now 36

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
Group: Wildlife populations down drastically

By The Associated Press | From Page:

45 dogs dead, 48 alive after North Las Vegas fire

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Police link 2nd case to missing Va. student arrest

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Netanyahu: Hamas, Islamic State group share creed

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
Cancer doctor given 10 years for poisoning lover

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

Afghan president sworn in, paving way for US pact

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Police ease tactics in Hong Kong protest standoff

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Study: Recessions can postpone motherhood forever

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
White House intruder got far past front door

By The Associated Press | From Page: , 1 Comment

Obama efforts to oust Assad pushed to back burner

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Islamic State closes in on Kurdish area of Syria

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Sacramento police seek suspect in dog’s drowning

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Shooing birds from Bay Bridge could cost millions

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Governor signs bills to help those in foster care

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Mountain View police ID gas victims as father, son

By The Associated Press | From Page:

.

Opinion

Editorial cartoons for Sept. 30, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page:

 
President Obama will go out with a war cry

By Doyle Mcmanus | From Page:

 
.

Living

Today in History: Sept. 30, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
I’m unhappy with Phil and playing ‘happy family.’ What should I do?

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page:

Community Calendar: Sept. 30, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page:

 
Horoscopes: Sept. 30, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B7

.

Entertainment

Amanda Bynes arrested for DUI in Los Angeles

By The Associated Press | From Page: , 1 Comment | Gallery

 
They did. They do. Clooney/Alamuddin wedding No. 2

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

Football commands highest TV ad prices

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
TVGrid Sept 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B8

 
.

Sports

Developer asks for more time for LA football plan

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Monday’s sports transactions

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Raiders fire coach Dennis Allen

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Prep boys soccer: VCS still looking for 1st win of season

By Daily Republic staff | From Page:

 
Charles sends Chiefs to 41-14 rout of Patriots

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Clippers return focus to team post-Sterling

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Giants have ample experience facing elimination

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Dover installs catch fence for 2015 NASCAR season

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Warriors happy to have core back, build on success

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

All-women sports show debuts with perfect timing

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Autopsy shows Chiefs LB Belcher had CTE damage

By The Associated Press | From Page:

AJ Hinch hired to manage Astros

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
Phil Mickelson saves best shot for his captain

By The Associated Press | From Page:

MLB batting average lowest since 1972 – before DH

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Wild, wild SEC West set for historic day

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Kershaw 1st to lead majors in ERA 4 straight years

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
AP source: 7 umpires rotate at World Series

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Pagenaud joins Penske for 2015 IndyCar season

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Texas’ Strong tells Goodell colleges can do better

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Hornets await NBA investigation into Taylor

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Trout, Strasburg giving playoffs a fresh look

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
NC State coach: No. 1 Florida State faked injuries

By The Associated Press | From Page:

A’s Lester, Royals’ Shields in AL wild-card focus

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Raiders’ season spinning out of control

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

Harbaugh dismisses reports of 49ers discord

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
3-way race for NL MVP; Trout takes his turn in AL

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Stewart never considered retiring after Ward death

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
Twins fire manager Ron Gardenhire after 13 seasons

By The Associated Press | From Page:

.

Business

Bank of America paying $7.65M to resolve inquiry

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Microsoft to offer early look at next Windows

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

US stocks head lower, following drops overseas

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
US consumer spending up 0.5 percent in August

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

ATM fees keep climbing, survey says

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Beetle Bailey Sept 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Garfield Sept 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

For Better or Worse Sept 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
B.C. Sept 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Sudoku Sept 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Wizard of Id Sept 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Dilbert Sept 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Crossword Sept 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Baby Blues Sept 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Baldo Sept 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Peanuts Sept 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Sally Forth Sept 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Cryptoquote Sept 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Frank and Ernest Sept 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Pickles Sept 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Blondie Sept 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Zits Sept 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Get Fuzzy Sept 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Bridge Sept 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Rose is Rose Sept 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Word Sleuth Sept 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
.

Discover Solano Fall/Winter 2014

Discover Solano Fall 2014: Sonoma County

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: DIS2

Discover Solano Fall 2014: Winters

By Barry Eberling | From Page: DIS3

Discover Solano Fall 2014: Historic Downtown Winters

By Susan Hiland | From Page: DIS3

Discover Solano Fall 2014: Napa County

By Barry Eberling | From Page: DIS20

Discover Solano Fall 2014: Western Railway Museum

By Susan Hiland | From Page: DIS23

Discover Solano Fall 2014: Yolo County

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: DIS23

Discover Solano Fall 2014: Benicia

By Barry Eberling | From Page: DIS29

Discover Solano Fall 2014: Downtown Benicia

By Susan Hiland | From Page: DIS31

Discover Solano Fall 2014: Benicia Fire Museum

By Susan Hiland | From Page: DIS31

Discover Solano Fall 2014: Benicia Plein Air Gallery

By Susan Hiland | From Page: DIS31

Discover Solano Fall 2014: Benicia Marina

By Susan Hiland | From Page: DIS32

Discover Solano Fall 2014: Dixon

By Barry Eberling | From Page: DIS33

Discover Solano Fall 2014: Fairfield

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: DIS35

Discover Solano Fall 2014: Solano Town Center

By Susan Hiland | From Page: DIS36

Discover Solano Fall 2014: Jelly Belly Candy Co.

By Susan Hiland | From Page: DIS36

Discover Solano Fall 2014: Fairfield Aquatics Complex

By Susan Hiland | From Page: DIS37

Discover Solano Fall 2014: Anheuser-Busch Brewery Tours

By Susan Hiland | From Page: DIS37

Discover Solano Fall 2014: Suisun Valley

By Barry Eberling | From Page: DIS39

Discover Solano Fall 2014: Glashoff’s Studio

By Susan Hiland | From Page: DIS40

Discover Solano Fall 2014: Wine Tasting

By Susan Hiland | From Page: DIS41

Discover Solano Fall 2014: Manka’s Corner

By Susan Hiland | From Page: DIS41

Discover Solano Fall 2014: Rio Vista

By Susan Winlow | From Page: DIS42

Discover Solano Fall 2014: Foster’s Bighorn Bar

By Susan Hiland | From Page: DIS43

Discover Solano Fall 2014: Suisun City

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: DIS45

Discover Solano Fall 2014: Rush Ranch

By Susan Hiland | From Page: DIS46

Discover Solano Fall 2014: The Suisun Wildlife Center

By Susan Hiland | From Page: DIS46

Discover Solano Fall 2014: Grizzly Island

By Susan Hiland | From Page: DIS46

Discover Solano Fall 2014: Vacaville Museum

By Susan Hiland | From Page: DIS47

Discover Solano Fall 2014: Downtown Vacaville

By Susan Hiland | From Page: DIS47

Discover Solano Fall 2014: Vacaville Premium Outlets

By Susan Hiland | From Page: DIS48

Discover Solano Fall 2014: Vacaville

By Susan Winlow | From Page: DIS49

Discover Solano Fall 2014: Nut Tree Plaza

By Susan Hiland | From Page: DIS50

Discover Solano Fall 2014: Vallejo

By Barry Eberling | From Page: DIS52

Discover Solano Fall 2014: Vallejo Symphony

By Susan Hiland | From Page: DIS53

Discover Solano Fall 2014: Mare Island Museum

By Susan Hiland | From Page: DIS53

Discover Solano Fall 2014: Children’s Wonderland

By Susan Hiland | From Page: DIS53

Discover Solano Fall 2014: Vallejo Baylink Ferry

By Susan Hiland | From Page: DIS54

Discover Solano Fall 2014: Empress Theatre

By Susan Hiland | From Page: DIS54

Discover Solano Fall 2014: Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

By Susan Hiland | From Page: DIS54

Discover Solano Fall 2014: Flyway Festival

By Susan Hiland | From Page: DIS54

Discover Solano Fall 2014: Bay Area Ridge Trail

By Susan Hiland | From Page: DIS54

Discover Solano Fall 2014: Solano County

By Barry Eberling | From Page: DIS55

Discover Solano Fall 2014: Solano County Golf Courses

By Susan Hiland | From Page: DIS56

Discover Solano Fall-Winter 2014 Calendar

By Glen Faison | From Page: DIS57

Discover Solano Fall 2014: Sterling Winery

By Susan Hiland | From Page: DIS59

Discover Solano Fall 2014: Safari West

By Susan Hiland | From Page: DIS59

Discover Solano Fall 2014: UC Davis Mondavi Center

By Susan Hiland | From Page: DIS59

Discover Solano Fall 2014: Calistoga Hot Springs

By Susan Hiland | From Page: DIS59

Discover Solano Fall 2014: Bale Grist Mill

By Susan Hiland | From Page: DIS59

Discover Solano Fall 2014: The Petrified Forest

By Susan Hiland | From Page: DIS59

Discover Solano Fall 2014: Winters Opera House

By Susan Hiland | From Page: DIS59

Discover Solano Fall 2014: Robert Louis Stevenson Park

By Susan Hiland | From Page: DIS60

Discover Solano Fall 2014: Sonoma Train Town

By Susan Hiland | From Page: DIS60

Discover Solano Fall 2014: Vintage Aircraft Company

By Susan Hiland | From Page: DIS60

Discover Solano Fall 2014: Casinos

By Susan Hiland | From Page: DIS60

Discover Solano Fall 2014: Scientopia Discovery Center

By Susan Hiland | From Page: DIS60

Discover Solano Fall 2014: Old Faithful Geyser

By Susan Hiland | From Page: DIS60

Discover Solano Fall 2014: The Sonoma Raceway

By Susan Hiland | From Page: DIS60

Discover Solano Fall 2014: Hot Air Ballooning

By Susan Hiland | From Page: DIS60