Kyle Busch says he may try to stay away from Danica Patrick on the track when the IndyCar star makes her NASCAR Nationwide Series debut later today.
Patrick's first race outing in NASCAR's second-tier series has drawn massive attention from fans and media, as she is set to compete for the first time against some of the biggest names in the sport such as Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards. However, Busch underscored that Patrick is a rookie in the series, and as such he expects her to struggle to find drafting partners during the race, given her lack of experience in the technique. Today's event will be Patrick's second stock car race, following a sixth place in the ARCA round at Daytona a week ago.
"The thing you do realize and work around is her being out there on the track, she's got the experience she has, but she's still a rookie," said Busch. "She's trying to learn these things so you have to treat her like one of those.
"Maybe some people will help draft with her, but others will probably dump her off and not work with her as much because of her experience level. As far as I've seen, everyone has been really good and she's been doing a good job."
Patrick ran fifth fastest in the final practice session last Thursday but expects a tough baptism in her first NASCAR-sanctioned event today. However, Busch reckons she has one of the fastest cars in the field, although that does not necessarily mean he would be willing to work with her in the draft.
"She's got a fast car, certainly," Busch added. "If she's been kind of erratic and all over the place or if she's had a slow car or something like that, then no, it wouldn't be in my best interest to work with her.
"I don't have any problem – her in general wouldn't be a problem. It would just be whether the car could do it and whether she can handle it, I guess. The name doesn't matter to me."
Busch was also critical of the TV coverage surrounding Patrick's stock car initiation, which he claims has been excessive, to the detriment of the regular racers in the Nationwide Series.
"The only thing I will say is that TV has been doing a horrible job, because they've been covering her way too much – which isn't a problem, that's fine. But if you're going to have this much attention drawn on the series, let's put it toward some of the [other] people," said Busch. "You've got all these people watching on TV and they want to hear about Danica. Well then, take advantage of that and show the less-funded teams, the underprivileged people who want to have some funding so they can race the rest of the year. Danica is only going to be here for 12 races or whatever it is this year."
Busch, the reigning Nationwide Series champion, will start the season opener at Daytona from pole position, while Patrick will take the green flag from 15th place on the starting grid.