Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sexism in Nationwide Series

Update.--After reading the stories after the race I'll change my words to know Clint Bowyer wasn't being hard on Danica, and had some good words after the race. He dropped out of the push to cool off as Danica hadn't learned the art of the switch in the two-car tandems to push Bowyer and her spotter wasn't interested in her competing for the top spots. Big mistake as she could have done it if any of the other drivers had helped her. They didn't.

Original post.--I like to watch the NASCAR Sprint Cup races now and then, especially the road courses at Watkins Glen, Sonoma and Montreal, and watch the Nationwide Series races when they're at the same venue or at a road course not with the Sprint Cup cars. And I always watch the Daytona races as the inaugural races of the year where all four series race (those with Trucks and ARCA).

And last year was interesting watching Danica Patrick race in her rookie season. She proved she could race with the boys and would have done far better than she did but unfortunate accidents took her out of several races when she was quite competitive. As they say, that's racing.

And this year at Daytona in the Nationwide series she qualified fourth, even getting the pole until the last few drivers ran faster. They have and did praise her, but then the race came. This year, racing is all about pairs, hooking up with another driver to be a tandem and drive 10-12 mph faster than other drivers.

So when Danica was near the front, in the top 6, none of the drivers would hook up with her to push her forward. Clint Bowyer, who later hooked up with other drivers, was behind her for many laps and only after a that did he hook up with her to push her to the front, into first place for a lap, and the drop back, leaving her alone and falling back into the pack.

And in the pack when other drivers had the opportunity to hook up with her, including her teammate, Dale Earnhardt Jr., no one did. Even Dale drove around her and went ahead and didn't let her push him. One of the announcers said it was her responsibility to initiate the hook as the leading car but several were behind her and wouldn't help her.

Another announcers mentioned some of the veterans won't hook up with the younger drivers because they haven't raced with them in practice, where it's key to learn how to drive the tandem and then switch, but even during practice not one driver offered to run in tandem with her to help her learn.

If you didn't think too far you could dismiss it as it's her sophomore season and even then she only ran about a dozen races focusing her career on the Indy car series. But that's not it, and it's not about her inexperience, when some equally inexperienced drivers found others to hook up with, including the race winner Tony Stewart who hooked up with Cassil who he never practiced with.

And when she was at the head of some of the lines of cars or even a pack of cars, not one driver would go near her to push her. The announcers kept saying it was her fault for not helping someone catch and push her, but there were several around and behind her, but none helped her.

They helped other drivers, just not her. If I didn't say so, I would think it was pure and simple sexism about not trusting a woman driver. They'll trust her to race with her but not where you're in tandem and 195+ mph. She can do the work and has proven she's fast.

I have no doubt she could do the job as she showed for the few laps Bowyer helped her before dropping off, and there was no doubt she could run with them as she was frequently in the top 10 throughout the race, leading lines and packs of cars. But not one would hook up with her.

In the end she finished 14th, the second car one lap down from the 12 drivers on the same lap. And through the race she spent it mostly racing alone even in the pack. She was fast and none cared. She raced hard and no cared. So what else can you call it? It seems the good ol' boys club is alive and well in the Nationwide Series.

Women can race, just don't expect help. Men only help men.

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