Danica Patrick’s impact on the Daytona 500 continued to be felt on Wednesday as other drivers were asked about her weight — as in, does it help her that she is lighter?
NASCAR requires teams to distribute weight in the car to even out the overall weight, but that begins at the 140-pound mark. Patrick is significantly lighter than that, as perhaps some other drivers might be. So the assumption, by the rules, is that she weighs 140 and the weight added to her car will be based on that number. NASCAR has a tiered system for adding weight to the cars, with set increments in each range.
Still, top drivers were asked at Daytona International Speedway if Patrick had a weight advantage over the field.
"I’ve never asked what she weighs and I know there’s a different weight that goes in cars, but I don’t know if it really matters that much,” Matt Kenseth said.
Five-time champion Jimmie Johnson agreed.
“The way the weight works I think they adjust it and they put weight on cars where you have lighter drivers so it all balances out,” he said.
Kenseth added later that he wasn’t up-to-date on the exact weight rules for this season, but outlined how adding weight to a car could aid a driver as opposed to the actual weight of the competitor.
“To build a race car to go on the track — the old saying was always, ‘Light, low and left,’” he said. “You want to build the cars as light as you can — there’s always a weight rule so whatever weight you put in there, you want to get as low as you can to get your center of gravity as low as you can. If you’re lighter, even if you have to add weight, you can add weight where you want it in the car and if you’re shorter then you’re sitting lower in the car and all that stuff helps of course.
“It’s always been like that. Before there was any — NASCAR made a rule I don’t know how many years ago to try to equalize that a little bit and take lead out for a heavier driver and put some lead in for a lighter driver to try to make it more equal for everybody. I don’t know that this conversation has come up in a long time . . . I don’t think it’s a huge deal.”
But once more showing his sense of humor, Kenseth added a caveat: “But yes, if she keeps running that fast then I think she should have to add a bunch of weight and mount it to the roof."