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DATE News (chronologically)
03/25/08
irl
Danica Patrick whining already over new IRL weight rule  
Stripped of her unfair weight advantage, Danica Patrick is already whining
An Indy Racing League rule change has Danica Patrick feeling as if she'll be penalized for being petite — which the popular driver said wouldn't happen in other sports.

Starting this season, the minimum weight for IRL cars will include the driver, and Patrick is the series' lightest at 100 pounds according to the 2007 media guide (which lists other female drivers Milka Duno and Sarah Fisher at 120 pounds apiece; Ed Carpenter is the heaviest at 165).

"If someone's going to take the hit it's going to be me," Patrick said Thursday. "It's disappointing the league decided to do that. In so many other sports, athletes don't get penalized for being too strong, or too tall or too fast.

"(It's) just your God-given stature is being penalized. What am I going to do, though? It's not my decision. That's the people higher up (who) made their bed, and they've got to lay in it."

Patrick said she asked IRL officials about the reason for the change but said "they didn't really have one. I just follow the rules," she said. "Maybe I'll get more specific reasons somewhere down the line …"

IRL spokesman John Griffin said the rule was intended to reduce the difference between the lightest and heaviest drivers, which is a gap that can range from 75 to 100 pounds.

"We want to make absolutely clear this is not a Danica rule," Griffin said. "You look at guys like Dan Wheldon and Marco Andretti, and they're light guys."

Griffin wouldn't disclose the cars' minimum weight but said drivers are broken into three weight classifications. The heaviest would have weight reduced from its car while the lightest would have a maximum 35 pounds of ballast added.

"It's something that had been looked at and was in the back of our minds every year," Griffin said.

Patrick admits to having had a slight speed edge from weighing less in a sport where lighter means faster. An Associated Press story in 2005 reported rival teams estimated Patrick might gain nearly 1 mph because of her weight, and Sprint Cup driver Robby Gordon said he wouldn't race Patrick in the IRL until the series equalized weights as NASCAR's premier circuit does. USA Today

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