June 13 (UPI) — Fans booing Danica Patrick got more than they bargained for Friday when the NASCAR driver came up to them and explained how it hurt her feelings.
Patrick was qualifying for the Pocono 400 during the run-in.
“Since I’m old, instead of taking the booing, what I want to tell you is like, I’m doing the very best I can,” Patrick told the fans, in a video filmed on Facebook Live. The video has since been deleted, but was preserved on social media.
“If you’re a real fan, you know that I’m not just like…my job is not to sign autographs, right?”
Patrick declined to sign at the time as her security denied fans from getting her signature, according to USA Today.
“My job is to drive a car and to tell the crew chief what’s going on,” Patrick said. “I don’t appreciate the booing. It hurts my feelings. I’m a [expletive] person, you know what I mean? I’m a person, too. I have feelings. When you boo me, it hurts my feelings. Okay? Please just be supportive fans. I’ll do everything I can.”
Patrick finished in 16th place Sunday at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa. It was tied for her best finish at the track. She qualified at No. 24, while Kyle Busch took the pole.
“She’s under tons of pressure,” Dale Earnhardt Jr. told NASCAR on NBC about Patrick. “She’s under a lot of pressure. I can completely relate to where she is mentally. But for me, going and actually talking to the fans and kind of hearing their positive reinforcement, it’s good for me. So I kind of seek that out in those moments.”
“Because I know once I kind of go through that process, signing some autographs, talking and interacting, you kind of get your priorities readjusted. What’s important…I don’t really know what’s going through Danica’s mind in that moment other than she just didn’t qualify the way she wanted and she’s frustrated. In those moments at the track, when you are working, I don’t know if you get a pass. But you certainly don’t get that kind of a pass if that’s happening at a dinner or at a grocery store or out during the week.”
Earnhardt, who announced that he will retire after the 2017 season, has been named NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver for 14 consecutive seasons.
Patrick, 35, began racing in the American Le Mans Series in 2003. She started her Verizon IndyCar Series career in 2005. She has never won a NASCAR Cup Series race, but has placed in the top-10 seven times. She has placed in the top-5 once in her NASCAR Xfinity Series career, but also has yet to win.