Patrick shrugs off critics

"I think that everyone is entitled to their own opinion," Danica Patrick said this week during this week's IRL media teleconference. "By all means, there's nothing that I want to do any more than win — I promise you that. But I think for people to draw such conclusions that I have to win to make, I don't know, to do anything in particular … it's like, hey, it's my first year; I'm learning a lot.

"I don't feel any more responsibility or any more obligation to do better because of it. My desire to be successful and to win has been the same forever. Just because there's more things written, I don't feel like it's justified in having to do better. I think every athlete at the top level tries as hard as they can all the time.

"I mean, I can understand how this sort of thing happens," Patrick said of the expectations other have for her. "When you get so much attention and everything, people seem to think this is what you have to do — you have to win.

"I don't go out there and say, 'put me in as many newspapers and magazines as you can;' it's just what happened. It's just what people wanted to write."

Team co-owner Bobby Rahal said he has been pleased with the progress Patrick has made — and the fact that she has been running at the end of all but one race this season.

"At the start of the season I told Danica I didn't care where she finished as long as she finished races this season," Rahal said. "On-track success has certainly come quicker than I thought it would and she has done a magnificent job balancing the demands in the race car and the demands on her outside of the car.

"It has been a long journey for her to get to this point but, in many ways, the journey is just beginning. I am very proud of what she has accomplished but I know the best is still yet to come."

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