Saturday, February 20, 2010

Boys Are More Destructive - The Danica Patrick Story

"OOOhhhh!" my son groaned.  "Girls are racing?  Boys are more destructive!"  Those were the words echoing in my head as we were watching one of the 25 college basketball games this afternoon.  Really, a seven year old chauvinist?  I'm not perfect myself, but I don't want my bad habits to rub off on my kids at that early an age.  In between action on ESPN, pictures of Danica Patrick would be shown.  I explained that she was the only woman to race cars in NASCAR.  "But boys are more destructive.  Will she crash just like them?"  Now the boys are at a fever pitch, even foregoing dessert to watch auto racing in the hopes of watching of all things car crashes.  I suppose I used Danica Patrick as a pretense to get excited about auto racing myself - like I needed a reason to watch cars spinning out of control somewhere else beside out of my driveway on Friday and Saturday afternoons. 

5:30 p.m. My first thought is that it was charming that a country music act, the Statler Brothers, was now sponsoring a race on the Nascar Nationwide Series.  But actually it's the The Stater Bros. 300 that gets started with the (what I assume is) usual invocation praying that no one gets hurt.  Cue the pictures of the wives and girlfriends holding on to their guys for dear life.  I'd be making sure that my insurance policy premiums were paid up myself.  I go on to explain that Danica Patrick used to race in open air Formula One type races.  Since she did so well in Formula One, she is now trying her hand at NASCAR, which is a different type of racing.  "Aren't all cars the same?"  I'm asked.  Well, that is true; you know what, I don't know why the racing is that different. 

Some girl named Kate Voegele follows the invocation by belting out the national anthem.  I've never heard of her, but I assume that she is a trending topic on Twitter right now, just like Justin Bieber.

"I want to see some crashes!" my seven year old states expectantly, like I had the power to make cars spin out of control with just a mere thought.  "I want to see that Go Daddy Girl crash too, I don't like the color of her car."  (By the way, in my boy's defense, Patrick isn't helping by being the face of the Go Daddy Girls.)  You'd expect a catty comment like that to come from my daughter, but no, it was my five year old as he sits himself down next to us.  As I'm about to explain that it is inappropriate to be rooting for car crashes, Kate Walsh of Private Practice screams "Gentlemen, start your engines!"  At least we have a doctor in the house in the event anything happens.  Although isn't she a pediatric surgeon?  Right.  Forget about that. 

The pole position went to some fella named Joey Logano, or as my kids like to call him the "Mario Kart Guy."  His lead sponsor appears to be Game Stop, and his hood is adorned with the cover of Mario Kart.  The boys start going nuts now, cheering wildly for their new athletic hero as he quickly takes the lead when the green flag is waved to begin the race.  Unfortunately, Patrick looks uncomfortable from the outset, dropping to 41st out of 43 entrants.  The other two entrants in 42nd and 43rd didn't bother starting. 

In fact, she starts getting lapped by the leaders around lap 18.  Patrick has a fiery temper, so we were all on the edges of the couch to see if she was going to give any of the leaders a problem as they went by.  "OOOHHHHH!"  She almost takes Kyle Busch out as he tries to pass her.  The announcers defend her by saying that she probably didn't see him trying to pass her over the top - isn't that what your crew chief is there for?  She knew he was there.

During her first pit stop, we are treated to one of the most ironic penalties in all of sports.  As Patrick pulls out of Pit Row, she gets tagged with a speeding ticket.  A SPEEDING TICKET?  The sle reason this sport exists is to see which car speeds faster than the others, and now you get a ticket if you go too fast?  I understand the reasoning behind the penalty, but it's still ridiculous.  At Lap 82, Patrick gets her 2nd ticket.  Now she's pissed; I would be too.  My seven year old doesn't get it.  "I thought only bad guys got speeding tickets."

After watching for an interminable amount of time so we could witness a crash, on Lap 119 we get the first crash due to spilt oil on turns one and two.  Ricky Stenhouse Jr. gets lost in the smoke generated by another driver's exhaust system and flails into the wall.  Meanwhile, we see Patrick creep up to 30th, then fall behind, then creep up, then fall behind.  The announcers keep explaining to us that Patrick is just getting used to the new car and needs to get some laps and repetitions.  If that is the case, then I could do this too.  All anyone needs are laps and repetitions. 

Anyway, thanks to the crash and a couple of other caution flags, the front runners go from caution flag, to the last lap.  The Mario Kart Guy, leading the entire way, goes up to high on Turn 2 and gives up the lead to fall to fourth.  The race is on now.  Kyle Busch takes the lead, and, with a pack of four jockeying for the checkered flag, wins the race!  The Mario Kart Guy, in a last ditch effort to win loses control of his car.  He spins out at the finish line and comes in fifth.  Patrick is right there at the end, except she is 4 laps behind when it happens.  She finishes 31st.

It didn't work out quite the way I wanted.  The borderline chauvinistic but certainly uninformed statement coming from my seven year old's mouth was a little difficult to take.  I was hoping to get them excited about something new and show them that even a five foot one inch woman could win a race of automobiles.  Despite being told that she did well, I agree with her body language, as she stomped out of the raceway.  "I stunk."  But at least the boys are interested in seeing auto racing live now. 

Get me some ear plugs.  Laconia here we come.

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