It's time for Patrick to shut up and drive

Chris Symeon, Motorsports Editor

The Inside Line Indianapolis, IN (Sports Network) - Danica Patrick's faithful fans, "The Danica-Maniacs," are beside themselves right now after their celeb driver dissed her Andretti Autosport team following her less-than-stellar qualifying run for the Indianapolis 500 this past weekend.

IndyCar's golden child put her foot in her mouth big time when she publicly expressed her frustrations with the setup of her sponsored car during post-qualifying interviews last Saturday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Patrick's four-lap average of 224.271 m.p.h. placed her 23rd on the starting grid, which by far was her worst qualifying effort at Indy.

"I think it was absolutely awful," Patrick said during an interview that was broadcast over the track's public address system. "I wasn't flat the last two laps, and I was scared to death flat the first two. And it didn't get better. The problem is that the car can be fast. You trim it out and it accelerates, so there's no issue there. It's just that the balance and the car itself is so bad. We can't even trim it out to go faster. By the sounds of the trim numbers, I think we're pretty excessive anyway.

"I'm very, very disappointed. I've never been bad here before. I've never been outside the top 10 on a finish or qualifying, so it's not my fault. This car is not good."

Patrick's comments led to a roar of boos from her disgruntled fans at the famed Brickyard, which at first, blind-sided the 28-year-old driver.

"I say one confident thing out there that it's not me, and everybody boos me," she said. "I'm blown away...I don't know, maybe they all booed me before. I would think that some of them have probably cheered for me before, and I'm not a different driver than I was five years ago. I don't know if those people were here five years ago."

Patrick has since come to her senses and been apologetic for her remarks. But that hasn't repaired the damaged she's done.

Danica Patrick has been a fan favorite and one of motorsports' most marketable figures.
Teammate Tony Kanaan said he spoke with Patrick in length following Saturday's "Pole Day."

"I think she realized what she did, and we sometimes say things that we don't want to say and we regret," Kanaan said. "She definitely needs to change her attitude...She's not happy with herself right now."

The last thing team owner Michael Andretti needed was an outburst from Patrick. Kanaan barely made it into the Indy 500 after crashing in each of the two days of qualifying. He will start 32nd in the 33-car field. Andretti's other drivers struggled as well, with Mark Andretti starting 16th, Ryan Hunter-Reay 17th and John Andretti 28th.

Since her 2005 IndyCar rookie season, Patrick has been a fan favorite and one of motorsports' most marketable figures. She's been pretty superb at Indy as well, finishing third in last year's race and fourth in the '05 event.

Patrick has captured more attention lately than at any other time in her racing career. She made her foray into stock car racing earlier this year, competing in the ARCA Series season-opener at Daytona and then the first three NASCAR Nationwide Series races -- Daytona, California and Las Vegas.

But Patrick is dealing with a somewhat disappointing IndyCar season so far, as she currently sits 16th in points after finishing a career-best fifth last year.

Has her experimentation in NASCAR cut into her IndyCar efforts? Time will tell. Her next scheduled Nationwide start occurs the last weekend in June at New Hampshire.

For the moment, it's time for Patrick to stop with her whining and start focusing more on racing.

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