By: Toby Christie – Follow on Twitter @Tobalical
Thursday was round one of driver media press conferences, and there was a lot to be said despite the fact that there was absolutely no racing last weekend. Here are some of the interesting tidbits from the day:
HARVICK FEELS SORRY FOR JR.
Much has been made of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s extended 135-race winless streak. Since June of 2008 – nearly four years ago – NASCAR’s most popular driver has been shut out of victory lane. If you feel sorry for him, consider yourself in the same boat as Kevin Harvick.
In his sit-down with the media Harvick was asked about Earnhardt’s losing skid, and he had an interesting response.
“We went through it (a winless streak) at right at 100 races. Over the last few years we’ve been fortunate to have the success that we’ve had. But just to live in his shoes on a daily – or weekly – basis and answer some of the goofy-ass questions you guys ask is one thing in itself. But to have to answer those questions and to constantly have to live up with them — and he’s running good. You know I mean that’s the good thing about it, you don’t have to answer near as – dodge near as much as you did before now that you’re running in the top-five every week.
Harvick continued by saying, “The pressure of the sport in general, whether he’s running good or bad the first thing you guys will ask him after he wins a race is, ‘when will you win the championship,’ it’s like a never ending battle for him. I feel sorry for him sometimes.”
Who says drivers are selfish?
DALE JR. IS NOT NOSTRADAMUS
Dale Earnhardt Jr. has had a huge resurgence so far in 2012, and he actually sits second in the point standings after six events. He has finished inside the top-three three times already and is coming off of two-straight third-place finishes heading into the track where he captured his first Sprint Cup Series win.
“Yeah we’ve had a good season. Everything has been going pretty good, and I do enjoy racing at Texas.”
Needless to say with his on-track improvement this season, Earnhardt has heard an abundance of questions as to when he would win again. To those asking the “when-when-when?” questions, Earnhardt has a simple answer.
“Well I haven’t really had to answer that question too much, people know I’m not Nostradamus so they don’t ask me many questions about the future. But I just feel like – we’re six points out of the pointslead, we’re second in the points and we’re a competitive team in this sport.”
Earnhardt has been asked more than he thinks about when he would return to victory lane, or he has a different idea than I do on what is a lot. Earnhardt would go on to say that he is ready to win, and he hopes his streak ends soon.
DANICA IS RON BURGANDY?
The award for strangest press conference of the weekend has to go to Danica Patrick. She started the press conference by talking about her two week vacation, which she described as “the never ending birthday party.”
From there she fielded questions on whether she had ever tried calf-roping or barrel racing — her response?
“Hog-tie? I’ve never heard of hog-tying, I can’t say that has ever entered my mind. Barrel racing? Is that where you climb into a barrel and roll down a hill? No?”
She then channeled her inner Ron Burgandy because she felt like she was a sports reporter sitting behind the new press conference set inside the Texas Motor Speedway media center.
“I’m Ron Burgandy?” Patrick said, she then asked, “Who’s ready for Anchorman 2?”
Consider me one of the many who are anxious for the return of Ron, Brick, Champ and Brian. However what I picked up from the cloudy light-hearted interview is that Danica is ready to get back to having fun. She mentioned that she has been putting too much pressure on herself since she is running for the championship.
“I think that when I was coming into the races over the last couple of years it’s not like there was no pressure, but I was on such a learning curve, that there was going to be good weekends, and there was going to be bad weekends, but at the end of the day it wasn’t for a sole-championship for one driver. You know it was a little less pressure for sure.
“I’m going to just have fun with it, do the best I can and forget the rest and take chances and have a good time with it,” Patrick said.
If this press conference is any indication, I’d say Danica Patrick has accomplished her goal of wanting to have fun again.
– Toby Christie is the lead Motorsports writer for Sicknissified.com, and he can be reached via twitter or email. Tweet him @Tobalical or email him at email@example.com. You can also find his work at TheFinalLap.com this weekend.