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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Danica has yet to master the art of criticizing your crew

She may be the face of Indycar racing to the masses, but Danica Patrick got a healthy dose of boos from the Indiana crowd during Indy 500 pole qualifying last weekend.
It came after her latest bad run, when she qualified horribly for Indycar’s biggest race.

According to reports, she was visibly shaken and holding back tears after the bad run, and then went off on her crew for how the car was performing.

"The car is just totally skating across the track, and there's no grip," she said. "My mechanics took tons of time to make sure it was fast and slick and no drag. It's there, it's just that the setup's not there. I feel bad for them because it's a good car. The GoDaddy car deserves to be higher up than this. It's better than this. It's just not set up right."

And even though her mechanics later agreed that the car wasn’t very well set up, the fans didn’t like the attitude she was copping, and the boos came.
Danica didn’t quite understand it, saying: "I say one confident thing out there, that it's not me, and everybody boos me. I don't know, maybe they were booing me before, but some of them were probably cheering for me before. I'm not a different driver than I was five years ago."

What Patrick did not realize, and may still need to learn, is that there is a right way to go about criticizing your team’s performance, and it’s not the way she did it.

In most situations, it should happen behind closed doors, where everything can be aired out and a meaningful discussion can be had in an effort to resolve any problems.
But if you must go about it in public, you can do like Jeff Burton did recently after a costly pit road mistake cost him a race win.

"We have to make a decision whether we want to be a championship team or do we just want to pretend to be one," Burton said. "I think we're a championship team. I think our guys will get it together and we'll be just fine."
That’s criticism that doubles as motivation, and not unnecessarily harsh criticism in front of the masses.

Danica’s remarks were closer to the words of Kyle Busch, who is known for outbursts about his team. At Bristol in 2009, after a pit road mishap, he said on his radio, “Y’all suck”. Needless to say, that’s not cool and won’t be much of a motivator.

Patrick’s comments weren’t as bad as Busch’s, but the fan reaction at Indy shows there is a line fans do not want drivers to cross when it comes to how they criticize their team.

And as a side note, she needs to learn to not get so emotionally affected by how she does on the track. She’s been around long enough that having a bad day shouldn’t get her so upset. If she’s going to make the transition to NASCAR, there are going to be a lot of bad days along the way that she’ll have to deal with.

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Blogger Jayhawk said...

Not only did she throw her crew under the bus, but she was extreme about it, even to the extent of claiming that the car was frightening to drive. "I was just scared," she claimed, "I'm still shaking."

May 25, 2010 at 7:59 AM 

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