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Danica Patrick hasn’t competed in NASCAR since the 2018 Daytona 500. But she has maintained a presence in the sport with her voice, serving as a guest analyst in the Fox broadcast booth several times over the last two seasons. 

Surprisingly, last month, she made her voice heard and made headlines in the process when she blasted Martin Truex Jr. for his statement on the death of his longtime girlfriend. This week, the 41-year-old is in the news again after admitting she’s spoken with an “important” person in NASCAR and recommended the sport adopt a change that would make it similar to F1. Interestingly, she’s not alone in her thinking.

Danica Patrick blasts Martin Truex Jr. 

Danica Patrick has opinions, and last month, she shared them on Instagram, criticizing Martin Truex Jr. for his statement after the death of longtime partner Sherry Pollex, calling the Joe Gibbs Racing driver’s remarks cold and insensitive. 

Truex issued a statement hours after the announcement that Pollex, 44, had died from cancer following a lengthy battle with the disease. In his comments, the driver said his former girlfriend had made a big difference in the lives of others battling the disease in her work with the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation and her Sherry Strong Foundation.

“I would like to extend my deepest condolences to her entire family, who have shown incredible strength and resilience throughout the battle,” the statement concluded. 

Patrick offered an unexpectedly harsh response the next day.

“I avoid negativity on social at almost all costs,” she wrote. “Almost… But this is the most insensitive, disconnected statement from a guy that I have never liked. And obviously, for good reason. I don’t care what happened between them, but this is as cold as it gets. A PR rep wrote this guaranteed. You’re free from this now sherry.” 

Patrick recommends shorter races

Unsurprisingly, Patrick received considerable backlash for her remarks from the NASCAR community. This past week, the former driver, who is involved in numerous business ventures, including her own wine, a candle company, and a podcast, traveled to Austin, Texas, for the U.S. Grand Prix at COTA, where she worked as an analyst with Sky Sports. 

After the race, she visited with and answered a variety of questions, including her thoughts on the health of motorsports in the U.S. 

“I sat down actually with one really important person within NASCAR… one of the things I said was, ‘The races are way, way too long,'” Patrick said. “People’s consuming habits change… because people can’t keep their attention span long enough.

“So when you’re asking them to sit in front of a television for five or six hours, with pre-race and the race and everything, that’s a lot of time to expect someone to be attentive.” 

Kevin Harvick agrees

Some NASCAR fans have never respected Patrick or her career and will likely disregard her comments. However, she’s not the first one to suggest that NASCAR shorten the races. Kevin Harvick, Patrick’s former Stewart-Haas Racing teammate, said something similar when talking with journalist Davey Segal on his podcast last year. 

“The thing that people have to realize, there’s going to be a lot more cautions,” Harvick said. “It’s not the racing that we’ve had for the past several years with a limited amount of cautions. There’s going to be a ton of cautions as we’ve seen through all these races. I don’t think, from a driver’s standpoint, any of us want to race 500-mile races anyway.

“500 miles at Atlanta with a restrictor plate. That was a long day. It felt like we were in there forever. I think the Daytona 500, obviously, needs to be 500 miles, but the Coke 600 could be debated. But the rest of these races, they shouldn’t even allow them to have 500-mile races. They, to me, seem like a thing of the past.”

For those fans who disagree with Patrick and Harvick and think it won’t happen, think again. NASCAR did it this year when it shortened the playoff race at Texas from the previous 501 miles it had run since 1997 to 400.5 miles, or 267 laps, 67 fewer than in the past. 

Could that be the start of a future trend or just a one-off? Time will tell.

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