All eyes on Danica

Danica Patrick looks on before the first practice session on Thursday. SUN MEDIA/Jordan Verlage

Danica Patrick looks on before the first practice session on Thursday. SUN MEDIA/Jordan Verlage

TERRY JONES -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:35 AM ET

There will be no cat fight here this weekend.

First of all, Danica Patrick doesn't have an opponent here this weekend.

Milka Duno, who she twice swore at last week for being so freaking slow as to not get out of the way and causing passing problems in practice, isn't racing one of the 27 cars at the Rexall Edmonton Indy.

And Patrick, you definitely got the idea yesterday, after having a few days to think about it, has put herself on notice, sort of a self-imposed probation.

The incident, in which Duno spat back at Patrick, throwing a towel at her (also twice), dismissing her with expressive hand gestures and saying "You like show! You like show! Go away!," resulted in "Cat Fight" headlines around the world.

It was the lead item on ESPN's Sports Centre. And it resulted in a giant jump in TV ratings on race day.

So all's good, right?

Well, not really, admitted Patrick.

"People are watching. I've got to watch it. What can I say? It's a double-edged sword. People are always watching. But people are always watching. I just have to be aware of that."

IMAGE CONSCIOUS

Patrick gave the packed press conference before practices yesterday an idea of how conscious she is of her image, even if, in emotional moments, she completely forgets about that.

Having young kids watching the incident and hearing it played it over and over again on YouTube may be good for TV ratings, but she suggests it's not good for her own fan base.

"I want kids to be fans of me and parents to be excited about watching, too.

"I don't know if I saw any 'Cat Fight' headlines," she laughed.

"It's not something that happens every weekend," she also added of doing the hissy fit bit with Duno.

But she admits her emotions and her sense of image aren't always in sync.

Her celebrated incidents include her stalking down pit lane with steam coming out of her helmet after Ryan Briscoe took her out in the Indianapolis 500 or what happened at Milwaukee last year when she pushed Dan Wheldon after an incident which took her out of that race.

"My personality is definitely a passionate personality," she said. "I'm very focused and very into what I'm doing. There are drivers out there that are more calm and there are drivers out there that are more excited and that goes right across the board.

"I think it's just inside you. Either you are passionate and wear your heart on your sleeve or you're not or you're in between. It's not a learned thing, it's a genetic thing.

"As a driver I'm not afraid to have conversations with other drivers. But in my life I'm definitely under a close eye and there are always cameras and TVs and things around. So I just have to watch what I'm doing and where I'm doing it and that's probably the lesson that I've learned here. People are always watching."

"All I can do is pay attention to the situation and realize that, like I said, people are watching and that there is a time and place for everything and that I need to watch it, be careful. I need to not do anything that draws attention that's not always the most positive."

Someone asked if she thought less would be made of some of Patrick's incidents if she were a man instead of a woman.

"I don't know. I've only lived as a girl," she said.

Being that there was no drummer in the room to do a rim shot, she followed her quote up with "Yes, it's true."

Scott Dixon called Patrick "a menace," but teammate Tony Kanaan gave her the all-time ultimate compliment here yesterday.

"She's trying to have a conversation with somebody. People think it's a fight and they record it and put it everywhere. That's the price to be famous. A lot of people are expecting a lot of things out of her and you guys have no idea how much that girl is strong and how much she puts into it.

PRESSURE'S ALWAYS ON

"It's a lot of pressure on her, but a good race-car driver needs to be able to handle the pressure as well. I mean, if you want to play with the big boys, you've got to be a big boy. A big girl, too."

When it comes to female drivers, Kanaan says there's no equal and never will be one.

"I don't think we're going to see another (female) race-car driver as good as Danica as long as I live."


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