July 19, 2011
Simona de Silvestro all about the racing
By TERRY JONES, QMI Agency
EDMONTON - She's the lady in waiting.
Except she's not waiting.
Simona de Silvestro is in Danica Patrick's rearview mirror and many well positioned people in auto racing expecting this to be Danica Patrick's final race in Edmonton.
The expectation is Patrick will move to the NASCAR Nationwide Series next year and leave the Swiss miss de Silvestro as the first lady of IndyCar.
But de Silvestro said Tuesday she is hoping the Go Daddy Girl of Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition fame, the first female to win an IndyCar race back in 2008 and a driver who has held her own with the boys finishing 12th, fifth, sixth, seventh, ninth and 12th in the series in the last six years, decides to remain.
"I think it would be cool if Danica stayed. I don't look at it that if she leaves it might make me the leading female," she said in a telephone interview before heading here Wednesday from Indianapolis.
"That's never been my plan. I'm just trying to improve my driving skills first and finish as high in every race and the series I can.
"I am a girl, but I don't think about presenting myself as a girl.
"I have a good sponsor now, and I think sponsors like drivers who win and run up front, and that's all I'm trying to do."
De Silvestro's website offers a much stronger mission statement.
"While on a journey to break barriers "¦ she is persevering on her path to change the perception of a sport in its entirety. Female athletes of all sporting disciplines are in a constant battle with commercial forces to compromise their class and dignity in order to satisfy a male dominated marketplace. Simona's quest is to shatter the stereotypes, leap beyond the barriers and truly be a role model for young women across the globe."
So, no swimsuit photo spread ahead?
"No, I don't think there will be any swimsuit edition."
She's all about racing and not much about being racy.
"It's only my second year in the series," said the 23-year-old who recorded her best-ever qualifying result right here with a seventh last year.
De Silvestro is more the girl-next-door type, a genuinely nice person who made a lot of friends here last year.
And if there's one place that high-maintenance Patrick won't be missed much other than for the undeniable sizzle and celebrity she brings to an event anywhere, it's here.
With her finishing 15th, 11th and 18th on what was generally acknowledged to be the most physically demanding course in the series, she hasn't had anywhere near the success she's had elsewhere.
Patrick is essentially an oval racer trying to hang in there on street courses, while de Silvestro is entirely a road racer trying to survive on ovals.
"At this point I've probably only raced in 10 oval races, while most of these drivers have raced on them for 10 years," she said.
"I still have a lot to learn, especially in oval races," said the driver who finished 14th in her first Indianapolis 500 and won the coveted rookie of the year honour, only to end up 31st this year with handling problems.
Their results so far this year tell the story.
Patrick is in ninth place after five oval races. De Silvestro is 25th. But de Silvestro is 11th on road courses while Patrick is 18th. De Silvestro was 10th to Patrick's 19th last time out at the Toronto Indy.
She's looking forward to the second Canadian race.
"The new track looks really fast," she said.
"I like it that they kept the really technical part from the previous track. And I really like the long straightaway for passing. It's going to be a fast track but still pretty challenging. And Edmonton was always the most physical track to drive of all the ones we went to, and I doubt if that will change."
One thing she can say headed to Edmonton after the carnage in Toronto, complete with quotes on a multitude of drivers offering all sorts of individual insults, is that she didn't need the two weeks to cool down.
"I'm not mad at anybody."
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