After watching the interview with Danica after her qualifying attempt and observing the activities in the related garages at Indy the past week I have a few thoughts to share.
Michael Andretti is fielding five cars this year. That is a lot. I mean a lot of cars. Look at Penske. Do you see him trying to support five cars? Guess why. It is crazy to try to do it with perfection and exhausting to do it well. So far I don’t think Andretti is doing it well.
My hat goes off to Tony Kanaan for taking the time to help out Danica by spending time talking with her to help her get her head straight. He is a driver’s driver.
Danica has had to deal with a lot over the last few years. Fame has a way of ripping everything that makes you a good human being from your soul. With the time she has spent making commercials, photo shoots for magazines, the controversy over her involvement with NASCAR, and everything else that a person out of the limelight has to contend with, it is amazing that she hasn’t had a complete mental breakdown. But all that comes with the territory and people who have never had to live that way don’t have a clue.
Now Danica needs to make some decisions. Is she still a professional race driver? A professional races for a lot of reasons, but number one is because they love it. No matter what else is going on in their life they can’t wait to get back in the seat and drive a race car. What I saw on qualifying day was not someone who had a passion for being a professional race driver. Race cars, especially at this level, can turn around and bite you hard. It is scary for any driver that is getting the most out of a race car. If it’s not scary then you are not trying hard enough. But if you can’t sit in a race car or get out on a track without feeling panicked you should hang up your helmet.
I could be very critical of Danica right now, but I would rather see her figure out what in life she can feel passionate about. I used to see passion in her eyes about racing, but I’m not sure that it is there any longer. If she can get it back then good for her, but it is dangerous for anyone to feel that circumstances alone force them to do something for a living that elicits the kind of fear that I saw in Danica.
While I am not sure about Michael Andretti and what he is doing with his five car team, I must say that Marco Andretti is showing a level of maturity and professionalism that I never thought I would see looking at him a couple of years ago. Back then he appeared to be a driver of better than average talent who was lucky enough to be in the right family. Today he looks like a real talent that is not taking anything he gets for granted.
Qualifying is one thing and the race on Sunday can be quite another. Even though the cars are all the same manufacture, and the engines are all from Honda, and all the tires are from Firestone, this year’s Indy 500 will be a race I really want to watch.