Officials at Andretti Green Racing headquarters spent Tuesday drinking heavily, relieved that they had finally found a driver who really, really wanted to win.
The drinking bindge came late Tuesday after the team announced they had signed that rare racer who wants to win, Rookie of the Year Sensation Danica Patrick. Danica (5-1, 100 pounds), who is ditching Rahal Letterman at the end of 2006, will bring her desire to win to AGR starting in 2007.
“She has the same attitude as my son Marco, who if you remember after the Indianapolis 500 was not satisfied with running second,” team co-owner Michael Andretti told ESPN News Tuesday. “I see Danica with that same attitude. She wants to win and that’s the kind of attitude I like bringing into the team.”
Andretti's mention of Marco and Danica in the same sentence did cause a bit of concern, however. Team Danica's represenatives allegedly protested to Andretti that "he said 'Marco' before he said 'Danica.' Clearly, Danica is concerned with where Michael's priorities are."
An AGR insider who declined to be identified said the team had spent months searching for a driver who wanted to win really really badly. "We looked at a lot of drivers, and most of them said stuff like, 'You know, second is great for me' or 'I've always been a fan of third place, myself.' We were about to give up when Danica came along and said she wanted to win."
"We did think we had something going with Jimmy Kite," said the AGR insider, "But when we asked Jimmy if he wanted to win badly enough to pose in some very tight shorts it became apparent that he wasn't exactly that committed to victory."
Given the news, racing officials expected a rash of drivers who said things like, "Second place f*cking sucks, man. You can take your silver medal and ram it up your ass, Sparky."
When reached for comment on Tuesday, Rahal Letterman driver Buddy Rice said he's pretty sure he'll notice Danica not being around next year. "I've gotten used to seeing her motor home with all the shades drawn near our hauler."
Rice did offer to give Andretti Green drivers Tony Kanaan, Marco, and Dario Franchitti tips on how to answer "What's Danica like?" and how to assist fans by holding stuff they wanted Danica to sign.
Late Tuesday Franchitti called his own news conference to clarify that he did not, in fact, accuse Danica of blocking during the Nashville race on July 15. "What I said was, '16 is rocking' not '16 is blocking.' I have a heavy accent. When I said 'Where's the black flag?' I was really saying that I thought I and everyone in front of me should be shown the black flag since Danica was 'rocking' through the field."
In other news, fans of Sarah Fisher
held a vigil Tuesday in hopes that a team would scrape together enough
money to give her a ride at Michigan. Fisher Fans members said that
reports that a returnable can redemption drive fell about $987,987.96
short of what it takes to even walk in the door for an IRL race. A plan
to put cans asking for change at all NASCAR concession stands was also
in the works.