Danica Patrick has now been on the IndyCar Series for three years. She's been the most popular driver while boosting attendance and bringing publicity to the sport. But there's one thing she still hasn't done. She hasn't won a race yet.
Although she once led the Indy 500 for 19 laps and finished fourth, she has yet to go the distance. For Patrick it's only a matter of time though.
"It's going to be nice to do it. It's probably going to come when everyone least expects it, including myself, but it's time,'' she said. "It's time to just do it and get it over with, and I can't tell you that I'm going to be over-the-moon ecstatic."Or to paraphrase, a Danica Patrick victory needs to happen. She needs it, but so does the IRL. A victory would lend legitimacy to her status on the circuit. It's one thing to drum up publicity and hype, but before long she's got to deliver the goods. Otherwise this valuable endorsement deals will dry up. The same goes for the IRL. They've piggybacked on the Patrick wagon, but they've also put a lot of energy and development into her. And to their credit they've both benefited from it. Patrick has brought attention to the IRL that in all honesty they wouldn't have gotten otherwise.
But how long can this go on without a victory? How far will fans and the media go along with this before they're calling her a sideshow not worthy of all that's been brought her way. A victory is the crucial next step in her development. Otherwise she's just another version of Manon Rheaume and Anna Kournikova.
"I'm going to be relieved,'' Patrick said about her inevitable first victory. And so will everyone else.