I know, I know. You're going to tell me that pole position for a race as nutso and long as the Daytona 500 doesn't really matter. (Same as it didn't for the 24 Hours of Daytona.) I know. And you're going to tell me that being fast on the track alone doesn't much matter when it comes to driving with the pack in the race.
I know. And I DON'T CARE.
Because love her or hate her, respect her or not ... call it a fluke or a lucky collection of coincidences. There's still going to be a woman leading the field to the green flag next Sunday for the Daytona 500. For the first time ever in a NASCAR race.
I've been ambivalent over Danica's choices for a while (as if it's my right?), because plenty of them are ones I wouldn't make. That's fine; it's a fair country. I wondered, when some of my (male and female) friends asked, is she doing more harm to her cause than good by posing in bikinis and such. Should she not be doing that until she's, yanno, won more than one major race?
But something the excellent racing blogger Pressdog (he mostly likes open-wheel, but we're trying to convert him) said struck a chord with me: "she's playing by the rules of sponsorship/racing...." (Read his full post.)
Because that's the bottom line. As a racecar driver, you have to be good on the track and better off of it. And you use what you've got. Are we denigrating Dale Earnhardt Jr. for getting more attention because of his name? (I might sometimes, but by and large the fan base doesn't.) How about Carl Edwards for letting himself be used as a character in some NASCAR Harlequin novels? Then why denigrate Danica for trading on being female?
Use whatcha got.
Honestly, I want a female on pole in any racing series not to be an issue (hello, I'd like to see a female racing full-time in a sportscar series!) All I know is that I imagine this kind of conversation going on ...
Little girl racer: "I want to win pole for the Daytona 500."
Parent: "Why not? I've seen it done by another girl."
Even better would be, simply, "Why not? Of course you can." With no reference to gender at all.