Danica Patrick: The Art of Racing in a Man's World


"I've never had any issue with GoDaddy stuff, with photo shoots I've done," Patrick said. "I am my own police officer with that stuff. Therefore I can say that I'm always in my window of comfort and these are just expressions of the different sides of my personality and being a female. I love to look pretty or sexy or any of those things."

Winning or not, "Danicamania" is alive and well. The New York Times called her the "hook that draws sponsors back to the sport," and with her recent success at the Daytona 500 -- NASCAR's Super Bowl -- ratings increased 27 percent from last year, with 16.7 million viewers tuning in.

Among the racers at Daytona was Patrick's 25-year-old boyfriend, fellow rookie NASCAR driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. -- Patrick went public with their relationship after filing for divorce from husband Paul Hospenthal in January. Her divorce was finalized last month.

Patrick said she and Stenhouse keep the trash talking to a minimum, but she will look for him on the track when they are racing together.

"I look for him, see how he's doing, see where he's at, looking on the scoring pylon," she said. "I want to see him do well. Now, I want to beat him, because I want to beat everyone else too, but I'm happy for him when he does well."

Patrick's pit crew chief, Tony Gibson, who has been on the circuit for 30 years, working with some of the biggest names in NASCAR, including Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr., said Patrick is good for the sport because she appeals to all ages.

"I've had older women come up and older men and young kids and teenagers and it's a trip," Gibson said. "I talked to a lot of the other crew members and drivers and they're all like, 'Our sport needs her right now. She is the best thing to come along for our sport in a very long time.'"

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Patrick is currently 25th in the national standings as a rookie NASCAR driver, and many hope this racing pioneer can continue her legacy of firsts, including being the first female to win the pole at Daytona and the first female driver to race at the sport's most dangerous track at Martinsville, and that she'll continue to be a strong role model.

"What I try and emphasize with young kids is to just be yourself," Patrick said. "Usually, or something that makes you the most different compared to everyone else perhaps is also what makes your most special attribute."

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