DAYTONA BEACH — Danica Patrick.
No other words are necessary. Friends and foes will gladly fill in all the blanks that go after two of the most polarizing words in professional sports.
Ask Jeff Gordon, and he'll tell you how neat it was to hear his 5-year-old daughter Ella asking for a meet-and-greet with one of her favorite drivers.
Ask Kyle Petty, who dismisses her as a "marketing machine" and says she's "not a race car driver."
Ask the guy lugging a used tire around the infield at Daytona International Speedway Thursday afternoon, begging Danica to sign the thing.
Love. Hate. Love. Hate.
Danica gets plenty of that, especially in the 24-7 world of the blogosphere. It amps up again this weekend as Danica rolls into Daytona a little over four months after a historic run during Daytona 500 week when she became the first female pole-sitter in the 55-year history of the Great American Race, and the first female pole-sitter in NASCAR Cup history.
Is Danica feeling those good vibrations again?
"I was thinking I would rather be at Hilton Head today," she said, mentioning a July 4 party she would attend later in the day with friends.
"But at least it's a weekend where I feel we have a chance to have a good finish."
That's how you ultimately are judged in this deal called stock-car racing. The hoopla over her qualifying effort and eighth-place finish here in February has subsided — and in many ways been silenced by her struggles since then.
Patrick is 27th in the Sprint Cup standings and has not had another top-10 finish since Daytona. Some folks give her a pass because she's a rookie. Some folks don't because she's Danica Patrick. Rinse and repeat.
"It's things I've been dealing with my whole career and I really don't let anything anyone says about me get to me because I work hard," Patrick said. "I know I work hard. If I wasn't working hard, then I might have things that I feel guilty about or feel bad about. But I'm doing my best and everybody's learning curve is different. Progressively I'm getting better."
Anybody who dismisses her as a NASCAR interloper is only fooling themselves. She is great for business. The Nielsen Co. recently ranked her the second most marketable athlete with men and dads, trailing only Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos.
You can't get Peyton out of your living room during the NFL season when he is hawking cars, pizzas and breakfast cereals. Danica is most famous as GoDaddy's go-to girl, though she's also big on insurance and soft drinks.
The dazzle of Danica — and the yada-yada that comes with it — reminds me of the perfectly coined phrase from former University of Florida football coach Ron Zook, describing his struggles with the persnickety Gators fan base:
"Noise in the system."
Danica gets that all the time, amped up at 9,000 rpms.
She shuts it down by watching TV or a movie, yelling to anyone who will listen, including boyfriend Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
"I just complain about whatever I'm upset about for a little while until I'm sick of myself and then get on with it and do something different," she said.