Danica-Patrick-Sprint-Cup-July-2013It's 19 races through the Sprint Cup season for Danica Patrick. This is her first full season after running 10 Sprint Cup races in 2012.

Patrick's stats include one top 10 finish and one pole, along with an average finish of 25.6. She sits 27th in points with a week off before taking the track at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the historic Brickyard 400.

Patrick has some bright spots this season, starting with the season-opening Daytona 500. She won the pole and led five laps, hanging in the top 10 for much of the race. She held her own and finished eighth, the highest finish for a female in this race.

Outside of that, Patrick hasn't really made much noise. Her best finishes after the 500 have been 12th place at Martinsville, 13th place at Michigan and 14th at the Coke Zero 400 (Daytona).

Considering the hype surrounded around her, so far, most would consider this year a disappointment -- even if she is just a rookie. Even former NASCAR Driver Kyle Petty developed his own point of view, saying Patrick is "not a race-car driver."

But had there not been for the hype, Patrick's ongoing rookie season would be considered of the norm: having bright spots with many ups-and-downs.

The best way for Patrick to be successful is for the media to ease up on covering her. Only certain athletes have lived up to the hype. Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Ken Griffey Jr. come to mind.

Looking at Patrick, I'm still uncertain about what her Sprint Cup career will behold.

Prior to Sprint Cup, Patrick mainly raced IndyCar and Nationwide. In IndyCar, she led the 2005 Indy 500 and finished in fourth place, the best finish by a woman at Indy. She also won her first career race at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan in a fuel mileage race.

She is the first woman to win an IndyCar race. In four years driving in the Nationwide series, she only completed one full season (2012). Patrick finished 10th in points with four top 10 finishes.

She has shown flashes, but not enough to show she will live up to media hype.

For what it's worth, Patrick has shown enough to prove she will be the best female driver NASCAR has had. But measuring her up to the big boys is a different magnitude.

If the belief for Patrick is her winning many races and even a championship, then maybe that's asking for too much.

It's much more reasonable to expect Patrick to be a top 20 racer as her career continues. Will she win some races? Perhaps. Maybe her first will come at a restrictor plate. She has been great at those.

At this point in time, I get concerned that Patrick could become the female Dale Earnhardt Jr. She'll have success, but will it be the success people expected?

The more media coverage of her, the more NASCAR fans will closely analyze her talent. Because fans want to see what it is about her. Because if she doesn't succeed on track, then she'll be viewed as a bust.

And that's what the media could be setting her up for.


Written by Lamar Colyer III at World of Sports Talk


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