Danica Patrick received a ration of grief on Twitter last weekend at Sonoma Raceway when a candid photo caught her emerging from a Ford Fusion in the paddock lot.
Patrick drives a Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing, but there was no brand disloyalty involved. In fact, the explanation was as simple as it was predictable. The Fusion was a rental car belonging to boyfriend Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who drives Fords for Roush Fenway Racing.
Because of heavy traffic headed into the track, Stenhouse was cutting it close for a team meeting. Patrick offered to park the car in the paddock lot at the far end of the main grandstand, down a steep hill from the main road into the raceway.
"For those of you who follow me on Twitter, you would have seen that it was taking a really long time to get into the track, and he had a team meeting at the top of the hill," Patrick said. "That was a long walk, and he was going to be late if we parked down in the paddock area.
"So, being the nice girlfriend that I am, I said I would just drive the car down and park it, and you get on with your meetings. So, it was really as simple as that."
As Patrick discovered, however, in the days of omnipresent cameras and instant sharing, nothing is quite that simple, no matter how well-intended.