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"I couldn't do it. I couldn't get beat up that bad. At some point I would put my foot down," he told AP. "I think probably her whole career she's had to fight that, unfairly, but she's had to fight it. That's a power, a super power I think. How she does it amazes me. I can't do what she does. She focuses on what's important to her.
"She has a great ability to tune out stuff that just doesn't matter. She fights the fights that are worth fighting. She doesn't worry about the ones that aren't and that's hard to do. I've made a career of fighting that. I wish 15 years ago I had the ability to do it the way she does it."
Now it's up to Patrick to prove Petty wrong, and her first chance comes Sunday in the Daytona 500.
A year ago she became the first woman to start from the pole and lead laps in the race, and went on to finish eighth as a rookie. No one should have expected anything less because that's what Patrick does — she performs on the biggest stages. She was fourth as a rookie in the 2005 Indianapolis 500, and finished third four years later.
The rest of the races? Ehh. They don't go as well.
She doesn't know why she rises when the lights are brightest.
"It's been a pattern. I feel like that I do better when there is more pressure. I hope that continues," she said. "I don't know if certain adrenaline and hormones get going in the right direction as a result of nervousness and anxiety. The more potential to do well that I have, the more nervous I get."
The goal, though, this year is to show improvement at all the races and to prove she can compete at places besides Daytona and Talladega. Maybe then the criticism will stop.
NASCAR veteran Jeff Burton doesn't think Patrick will ever escape the scrutiny.
"She has a wonderful opportunity in front of her because of her situation," Burton said. "But her situation, the price of that, is that she's under tons of scrutiny. But that's life. There's no free ride. You can't have this wonderful opportunity, but then not have something you've got to pay back for it. She's going to be scrutinized because of the opportunity she has. That's just the way it is."
|San Jose St||52||FINAL|
|New Mexico St||86||FINAL|
|Mount St Marys||63|
|Long Beach St||49||FINAL|
|Utah Valley U||63||FINAL|