Danica Patrick says she ‘had a moment’ when she lectured fans at Pocono


Danica Patrick admits the prudent thing would have been to “just keep walking” when she was booed by fans last weekend at Pocono Raceway.

Instead, Patrick approached those fans and lectured them, telling them “I have feelings.’’

Patrick also told the fans: “My job is to not sign autographs, right? My job is to drive the car and tell the crew chief what is going on. I don’t appreciate the boos. It hurts my feelings.’’

While in Boston on Wednesday to promote next month’s race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Patrick discussed what happened at Pocono.

She said she “had a moment,’’ according to The Associated Press.

“Every now and again they just catch you in a moment, and I had a moment,” she said.

The episode started when Patrick was walking from pit road to the garage after qualifying at Pocono. Fans were cordoned on both sides to allow teams to pass by. An adult male fan slipped through and nearly reached Patrick before a security guard physically restrained the individual. The fan appeared to be holding something to sign.

Patrick turned to see what happened and kept walking. A few fans booed her and that’s when she turned and walked toward those fans.

She said Wednesday she didn’t sign for that man stopped by security because she “didn’t feel it was right to honor that person for disrespecting the security guard.”

Patrick’s comment to the fans that it’s not her job to sign autographs has ignited a debate among NASCAR drivers on if it is their job.

Kevin Harvick, a teammate to Patrick at Stewart-Haas Racing, said on his SiriusXM NASCAR Radio show “Happy Hours” this week that: “I feel like signing autographs is 100 (percent) a part of my job description. It’s just something that you should do.

“I feel like the fans are a big part of what we do. For me, it’s important to support the fan base and the people that we have to give them what they want. I used to be one of those guys …  ‘Dang it, I don’t want to stop and sign autographs,’ or ‘I don’t want to do the autograph session.’ … I believe signing autographs is definitely a part of what you do and a responsibility of every driver in that garage.’’

Ryan Blaney, who scored his first career Cup win last weekend at Pocono, addressed the issue on his podcast “The Glass Case of Emotion” on Wednesday.

“I don’t think it’s part of our job to sign autographs, I think it’s something that we should do,’’ Blaney said. “I like to do it a lot. If you’re worried about getting to your car, go early to where you have 10 minutes to stop and sign for fans. I mainly try to sign for kids. That’s my priority.’’

Dale Earnhardt Jr. also talked about the issue on his podcast, the Dale Jr. Download, this week.

“I hate it for Danica because it paints her in a bad light, but she brought it on herself,’’ Earnhardt said. “You never know when a camera’s rolling, whose watching. It’s certainly true in that case.”

Earnhardt said signing autographs can help him if he’s frustrated with his performance.

“The thing is I have found that what makes me feel better is actually going and signing autographs because the fans talk to you and go ‘I saw your qualifying, I saw it wasn’t very good. No problem, you’re going to get them tomorrow,’” Earnhardt said.

“That’s all you really want to hear, from whoever is going to tell you that. You’re feeling like crap, you’re disappointed. … Actually going to talk to the fans and hearing their reinforcement, their positive reinforcement is good for me. I kind of seek that out in those moments because I know once I go through that process of signing some autographs, talking and interacting, you kind of get your priorities readjusted, what’s important.’’

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NASCAR America: Steve Letarte: Denny Hamlin showing ‘remarkable consistency’

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Things have been going relatively well for Denny Hamlin on the track in 2018.

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver enters this weekend’s race at Martinsville Speedway sixth in points. Through five races, he’s finished outside the top six once (17th, Las Vegas).

NASCAR America’s Steve Letarte, Dale Jarrett and Nate Ryan discussed his season so far in addition to Stewart-Haas Racing and Team Penske.

Letarte said Hamlin has displayed “remarkable consistency.”

“Denny Hamlin is in my mind a super star driver that I know I am guilty of leaving him out of super star conversations,” Letarte said.

Ryan pointed to mistakes on pit road that have prevented Hamlin from enjoying more success this season and in his career overall. His result at Las Vegas was the result of a speeding penalty.

“Five races this season, four pit mistakes,” Ryan said. “He overshot his box at Daytona, he did that at Fontana, he sped in the pits at Phoenix. While I think they’ve had speed, I think that team is still stumbling in the same ways it has in the past. Unless they correct that, I don’t know if they’re championship level yet.”

Hamlin heads to Martinsville where he has won a career-best five races.

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Trevor Bayne on Charlotte Roval: ‘You have to be on your game’

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Rain washed out the second day of Goodyear tire testing Wednesday on Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Roval. Goodyear has tentatively scheduled May 1 as a make-up test date.

Trevor Bayne, Kyle Busch, Paul Menard and Kyle Larson took part in the test Tuesday.

“I just took some slow pace laps and got a feel for the race track,” Bayne said in a statement from Charlotte Motor Speedway. “I was nervous, but I wasn’t anxious because I was never going to go out there and make qualifying laps. We worked our pace in and our plan, we stuck to it. I felt really good by the end of the day.

“You have to be on your game, that’s for sure. You can’t really let your guard down anywhere. There’s no room to make mistakes. If you make a mistake, you’re going to pay for it pretty quickly. If you try to do something and it doesn’t work, you’ll pay the price. It’s going to be a survival race. … If you’re smart, you take care of your car and you don’t make mistakes, you’ll have a really good shot at the end for a good finish. I enjoyed it. It was a challenge for me – something new – and I enjoyed that part of it.”

Organizational tests at Charlotte will be in July. There will be two different sessions. Each team is allowed to test at one of the two sessions, which will be July 10 (rain date of July 11) and July 17 (rain date of July 18).

The Charlotte Roval hosts the final race of the first round of the Cup playoffs on Sept. 30 on NBC.

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NASCAR issues two fines for unsecured lug nuts at Auto Club Speedway

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NASCAR announced two crew chief fines for unsecured lug nuts last weekend at Auto Club Speedway.

Adam Stevens, crew chief on Kyle Busch‘s No. 18 Toyota, was fined $10,000 for one unsecured lug nut.

In the Xfinity Series, Eric Phillips, the crew chief for Ryan Preece‘s No. 18 Toyota, was fined $5,000 for an unsecured lug nut.

No other penalties were announced.

NASCAR America at 5 p.m. ET: Drivers to watch, favorite sports upsets

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Today’s episode of NASCAR America airs from 5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN and begins to look forward to this weekend’s racing at Martinsville Speedway.

Marty Snider hosts with Dale Jarrett, Steve Letarte and Nate Ryan from the “Big Oak Table” in Charlotte.

What to expect from today’s show.

  • The same names have been dominating the headlines in the first five races in the 2018 season. We will take a look at some of the other drivers to be on the lookout for as the season rolls on.
  • One of NASCAR’s most historic tracks is up this weekend – Martinsville! We’ll check out some of the recent drama “The Paperclip” has provided ahead of the race.
  • In the spirit of March Madness, our panel will tell us about their most memorable sports moments, as well as some of NASCAR’s biggest upsets.
  • Plus, The Indianapolis 500 will have a new home in 2019. We’ll have all the details on NASCAR America.

If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 5 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.