Okay, we know that professional racing drivers will never admit to being hurt. Well, hardly ever.
But the big guns in the big series are macho men and will drive through anything short of amputation or decapitation.
But the question today is: should they be allowed to take those chances?
Last year, Denny Hamlin had to have a knee operation because he’d buggered it up by playing basketball during the winter. He had the operation and then hopped (if that’s the expression) back into the car and although he had a relief driver standing by, not only drove through the pain but won the race at Texas Motor Speedway.
I wrote then that race drivers should be kept on a shorter leash because it’s not them I worry about necessarily. Rather, it's the other drivers who may suffer an injury in an accident caused by somebody who’s not 100 per cent.
Just because it’s never happened, or hasn’t happened yet, doesn’t mean it can’t or won’t.
So earlier this week at Road Atlanta (sorry, I originally wrote Atlanta Motor Speedway when I posted this blog), Brad Keselowski was testing and went into a wall at about 100 miles an hour. He thought he was a goner.
He emerged pretty much unscathed (okay, bruises just about everywhere and lots of aches and pains) except for that horrible ankle injury (see photo).
So, what happens? As was the case with Hamlin a year ago (is there a pattern here?), Keselowski not only drove the whole Pennsylvania 500 Sunday at Pocono International Raceway but he held off a hard-charging Kyle Busch to win it.
He admitted to TV interviewers that he wasn’t feeling very well after racing to victory with what had been diagnosed as an avulsion fracture to his left ankle.
"I know it just hurt," he said. "It felt a lot better when I went through that checkered flag and until I got back out of the car, that didn't feel a lot better.”
Kyle’s brother Kurt Busch finished third, with Jimmie Johnson fourth and they had strong words afterward as the result of some fender-banging down the backstretch that took place on the last lap.
Ryan Newman was fifth, Jeff Gordon sixth, Carl Edwards seventh, Greg Biffle eighth, Dale Earnhardt Jr. ninth and last week’s Brickyard 400 winner Paul Menard tenth.
Edwards continues to lead the Chase for the Championship, with Johnson second and the Busch bros. third and fourth. Kevin Harvick is fifth.
The Pocono race was, in fact, two races because of a torrential rain that brought out the red flag just after the halfway mark. Pole sitter Joey Logano was leading, with Johnson, Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Earnhardt the top five.
After an hour and 40-minute delay, racing resumed and it came down to Keselowski and Kyle Busch racing each other just as hard as they could with Keselowski holding on at the checkers.
With only five races remaining before the playoffs, the fight for the final positions in the Chase is getting intense. One driver on the outside looking in at the moment is Tony Stewart, who hasn’t won a race in 2011.
“Smoke” wants in to make his season complete. The announcement that Danica Patrick will be driving some selected Cup races for his team in 2012 is imminent and there’s a chance he might launch an Indy car team to run her in next year’s Indianapolis 500.
But first things first and making the Chase is No. 1.
By the way, Kyle Petty started off the Danica bashing earlier this weekend (see two posts below) and that, of course, brought out other bashers as well as defenders.
I think she’d doing the correct thing going to Nationwide for a year but to say she won’t be able to race in Cup begs the question: how come there aren’t more good Cup drivers?
She’s going to race in Nationwide where, to be honest, most of the races are won by Cup drivers. The regular Nationwide drivers, Elliott Sadler and that group, are people who can’t make it in Cup.
And then in Cup, you’ve got seven or eight drivers who are working for start-and-park teams – the Joe Nemechek crowd.
So, in reality, there are only 35 or 36 drivers good enough to race in the Cup series and then, of those, there are only a dozen or so who are good enough to win. (I mean, Juan Pablo Montoya has got the best of equipment and a glorious opportunity week in and week out and yet how many races has he won? Joey Logano’s another one. I could go on).
So, yes, Danica Patrick is probably not ready to step into Cup right now but – other than that people would expect her to win – she probably wouldn’t look out of place either, considering the competition.
But, of course, this is still all conjecture. The last time I looked, Danica Patrick was still an Indy car driver and all this NASCAR talk was just that: talk.