This is an article from the May 20, 2013 issue
The 5'2" NASCAR driver won't back down from her critics—and has made it clear she isn't afraid to stand tall against drivers she thinks are targeting her on the track.
DAN PATRICK:What kind of mood are you in?
DANICA PATRICK: I'm in a good mood. It's turned to summer finally. I wore shorts yesterday.
DP:Do you ever get a farmer's tan?
DP: I try really hard not to have a farmer's tan.
DP:You got caught up in a wreck at Talladega on May 5. Why is that track so dangerous?
DP: Because we are going 200 to 205 mph. You're running in such a close pack. The track is so big that you can keep flat on the throttle the whole way around and run nose-to-tail and three or four wide. When someone goes sideways, it collects a lot of cars. It's not usually a couple of cars in an accident. It's like 14-car accidents.
DP:Do you think NASCAR wants rivalries?
DP: I don't think NASCAR does. I think NASCAR fans do. I know as a fan I love rivalries. I'm a Bears fan, and I love that Bears-Packers rivalry. It's something sports needs to create story lines and interest. It seems to bring out the best and worst of people.
DP:Wait, you're a Bears fan? Weren't you born in Wisconsin?
DP: I was born in Beloit, Wisconsin. But we lived in South Beloit, which was in Illinois. [Beloit] was the closest hospital.
DP:What's the big NASCAR rivalry now?
DP: It changes every weekend. Maybe it was Joey Logano and Tony Stewart one weekend. Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski was a pretty big rivalry for a little while. Then you can look a little deeper like Ford against Chevy. I don't think there's anything too tense out there right now.
DP:Why did driver David Gilliland say you should "shut up and race?"
DP: I was complaining about a driver who was driving too aggressively.
DP: I hear things that other people say, and I'm like, Dang, how do you get away with that? [With me] people are just listening and things get blown out of proportion.
DP:So what happened?
DP: I was getting aggressive and threatening and saying [Gilliland] better watch out. I said I was going to take him out. He was like, Tell her to shut up and drive. Maybe he didn't have a lot of time to talk and that's all he could get out.
DP:Would you ever consider trying F1 or going back to Indy cars?
DP: No. I'm getting too old. I'm 31 now.... Wait, sorry, things are getting crazy outside. We're in the bus lot and someone is starting to groove next door.
DP:You're in the bus lot right now, who's next door to you?
DP: I've got Kasey Kahne to my right. To my left is Kevin Harvick.
DP:Could you take Kasey Kahne?
DP: He's a pretty little guy. I'm not taller, but I might be heavier.
DP:Is that a yes?
DP: You always try to get me in trouble.
In the aftermath of Jason Collins's coming out, I asked TNT's Charles Barkley if he ever played with a gay teammate. "Of course I did," Barkley said. "Everybody's played with a gay teammate.... I probably had three or four I played with in 16 years." ... Former CBA and NBA coach Flip Saunders told me Phil Jackson has more experience as an executive than people think. "Phil [coached] in the CBA," Saunders told me. "In the CBA the coach is the G.M. and the president. You set the philosophy on how you want to build the team. That's something he's looking forward to." ... The Nuggets' George Karl had an interesting reaction to winning Coach of the Year: "[Coaches] want it. But there's always been a stigma [that] those guys get fired. We don't actually understand why certain guys win in certain years." ... Heat executive Alonzo Mourning argued that LeBron James should be held in the same regard as Michael Jordan. "The impact he's had is reminiscent of MJ," Mourning said. "It's unfair to define his greatness on championships. He's just as dominant."