Post-race gun celebration at Texas may be changed

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Texas Motor Speedway’s iconic Victory Lane celebration that features the winning driver firing blanks from a pair of six-shooters may be altered for its upcoming Sprint Cup event on April 13.

With that race’s sponsorship coming from the National Rifle Association, track president and general manager Eddie Gossage is taking potential concerns from team owners and sponsors into account as he looks into possibly changing his post-race activities.

“I don’t want to affect some sponsor on a uniform somewhere that says, ‘I didn’t want that picture. I didn’t want my driver with a gun in his hand,'” Gossage told USA Today’s Nate Ryan yesterday. “Even though it’s a cap gun. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s sponsorship.”

Ryan reports that Gossage will talk with NASCAR team owners about the situation this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and that the final call will likely be made by the winning owner at TMS on whether or not he wants his driver to fire the guns.

“We have to be sensitive to that, so we’ll let the team owner make the call,” Gossage said to Ryan. “They’re all friends of mine. I’ll be in Vegas and I’ll ask them, ‘What do you think?’ and do whatever the team owner wants to do.”

As expected, the announcement of the “NRA 500” at the 1.5-mile oval in Fort Worth has garnered attention in the sports world. It came roughly a week after Michael Waltrip ran a car in the Daytona 500 that supported a relief fund for victims of the Dec. 14, 2012 mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

Considering the volatile nature of the gun control debate in America following the Newtown massacre, it’s safe to assume that some will question TMS’ decision to allow the NRA to sponsor its spring Cup race. Michelle Beadle and Dave Briggs of NBC Sports Network’s “The Crossover” (Weeknights, 6 pm ET) have weighed in on the topic, and you can check out what they have to say here.

What’s next for Danica Patrick after the Indy 500? Dreams, downtime and waffles

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INDIANAPOLIS – When Danica Patrick was a 14-year-old growing up in Roscoe, Illinois, she had a firm idea of what she’d be doing 20 years later.

A reporter from her hometown newspaper recently reminded her of that in a recent interview when he brought a prescient artifact from those teenage years – an essay that she crafted as an up and coming go-kart driver about her racing accomplishments.

“I’m breezing through it, and then at the end, it said, ‘I wanted to race Indy cars,” Patrick, 36, said Thursday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “I was 14. I told him, ‘See? If this isn’t an example of “Write that shit down,” nothing is.’

“This is manifesting. You have write it down and you have to imagine what you want. So I do that as much as I can.”

Heading into the final start of her career in Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 (she will start seventh in her No. 13 Dallara-Chevrolet for Ed Carpenter Racing), Patrick already seems to have a solid idea of the next 20 years — in part, because of having some glimpses into her post-racing life.

There has been plenty of downtime since her final NASCAR start in the Daytona 500 three months ago. She has taken vacations (including an India trip to meet the Dalai Lama with boyfriend Aaron Rodgers) and created several new routines on her suddenly free from racing weekends.

“I make waffles on Sundays now,” she said. “That’s pretty fun.  In the summer, there’s like farmers market.  I can’t wait for that.  I mean, there’s going to be probably some new stuff that I don’t know yet.

“The one thing that I am definitely looking forward to less of is less stress.  Last weekend was awesome at the end of it all because it went well with qualifying, but I was nervous for 95% of that weekend. That’s uncomfortable.”

But testing her comfort zone is appealing to Patrick, who has spent most of her adult life testing the boundaries of gender norms in her profession. Though the pressure of race weekends might disappear, her incessant quest for challenges probably will remain.

Now that racing is over, Patrick still has a winery, a clothing line, a cookbook and a fitness manual to promote – and more is on the way.

“I just have a habit for pushing myself to uncomfortable spaces, making them comfortable for me,” she said. “At least just making them comfortable enough to be able to manage.

“As an example, I went bungee jumping a long while back, like 10 years.  I’m super scared of heights.  I’m still scared of heights.  But I just like to know that if I want to do something, I am brave enough and confident enough to do it.  That doesn’t mean I’m not still scared.  That doesn’t mean it’s not still something that’s easy to me afterward. I just like to know I can get past the fear if I have to.

“I’m OK with transitioning into other things, finding a little bit of happiness and joy each day, less colorization of emotions. I’m ready for that.”

So what specifically is on tap? Talk shows? Another book?

Patrick demurs when pressed.

“I think I have definitely big dreams and aspirations for myself, for all my companies, for the kind of emotion I want to have on a day-to-day basis,” she said. “I’m looking forward to a good, easy, happy, calm, joyful, exciting, adventurous life.  If I say I want it, there’s a very good chance that’s what I’ll get.”

In the short-term, there’s hosting an ESPN awards show that will keep her busy through July.

And after that, her schedule will free up just as Green Bay Packers training camp begins for Rodgers, the two-time MVP quarterback.

“I’m thinking I’m going to have plenty of time to write a cookbook in Green Bay,” she said.