Sunday, August 28, 2011


UPDATE: I'll be live on SiriusXM 90 Wednesday at about 2:30 p.m. EDT to talk about the NASCAR tire testing at Phoenix International Raceway.

I covered last Thursday morning's Danica Patrick-to-NASCAR news conference for the Arizona Republic. Here's a link to that story, which was lengthy by local standards, and ran on sports Page One.

GoDaddy's offices are about a 15-minute drive from my Scottsdale home. The event, postponed one day and moved from the downtown baseball field, wasn't the best organized I've ever attended. The formal announcement was very scripted and I would say nothing new was learned. There wasn't anything special or overly welcoming or friendly or relationship-building about it. I had an individual interview with Danica afterwards in a corporate conference room. I knew it was an extremely busy time for her, partly due to the postponement, as she had to travel to California for IndyCar obligations later that day.

Still, I was somewhat struck by the impression that she didn't seem as happy as one might have expected on such a big occasion. In fact, that was the second question I asked her: "Is this a happy day for you?" She appeared a little surprised by that and answered: "Yeah, sure, of course it's a happy day." OK -- I'm just saying she didn't look it.

Since she had earlier said there was no news on returning to the Indy 500 next May, I asked if there had been any conversations with Indianapolis Motor Speedway management about scheduling considerations that might make that a bit easier for her. DP said no but reminded me: "Anything can happen."

As the TV people like to say, stay tuned.

I have some more from Danica that I'm saving for future use in the Republic. A few minutes after I was done talking to Patrick, I discussed it all with Rick Benjamin and Chocolate Myers on SiriusXM. There really wasn't any "news" but my overall impression was really more a reminder of what I've observed for years: Danica is very guarded and doesn't go off-script very often. In that sense, she and her media manipulator sponsor are a good match. Sometimes, that reflects poorly on many segments of the celebrity-crazed/journalistically-challenged media world.

FAST LINES: Mark Armijo and I will be covering tire testing at Phoenix International Raceway this Monday and Tuesday. See our stories in the Republic or . . . Despite what you might have read elsewhere, no paddock in major motorsports is more fan friendly than NHRA's. The Big Go -- the U.S. Nationals -- is this weekend, with plenty of interesting on-track and trackside things to see and do and hours of TV coverage. As I say every year, even if you are not a drag racing fan, you really should check this out . . . Remember Joe Heitzler, who as CART's president made the worst decision in modern motorsports history (even topping Tony George's IRL) and ran a race post-Sept. 11, 2001 weekend when the rest of the American sports industry respectfully paused? Given that disgraceful bit of professional history, take a look at his truly amazing comments on ethics:

[ more after Labor Day . . . ]