Patrick makes waves while Hornish makes rare mistake

Updated: July 20, 2006, 1:14 AM ET
By Rusty Wallace | Special to ESPN.com

There was a great race up front at Nashville Superspeedway on Saturday night, but with Danica Patrick being in the news all week and then finishing fourth in the race, she stole some of the thunder.

There's been speculation she would move to NASCAR. I don't think she's going to. But first, she has to be applauded for her run Saturday night.

This was her best race since the 2005 Indianapolis 500. During practice I noticed she was running well, practicing with Tomas Scheckter and a couple of other drivers and no one could catch her. She told me before qualifying that her car felt better than it had in a long time.

She hit the setup right and is focused.

But she isn't going to NASCAR right now. She has been frustrated with Rahal Letterman and the performance of the team and there are plenty of options in IndyCar if she wants to stay, including a spot on the Andretti Green Racing team.

She would have been very popular in NASCAR, but she is smart enough to know how hard it is and that she needs to accomplish things in IndyCar first, and I know she would love to win the Indy 500. It's flattering to get the offers and she knows she would make a lot of money, but the NASCAR cars are so hard to figure out. With her talent level right now and understanding of NASCAR, she could not just jump in and go right after it.

Hornish mistake opens up title race

Sam Hornish Jr. and Dan Wheldon were running great all day and halfway through the race Scott Dixon started getting better and better. But then Hornish ran high and it was a simple case of making a mistake, and he will tell you the same thing.

He went in the corner and was caught behind a lapped car, then lost the front end. He got the nose up into the gray and started picking up all the tire rubber -- they call it getting in the marbles -- and took this long slide and crashed. It was very uncharacteristic of Hornish; it was nobody's fault, he just flat lost it.

Hornish is still probably going to win the title. He made one mistake, but every single race he's been solid. Even though the Ganassi cars finished 1-2 with Dixon winning and Wheldon right behind him, they have been a little more inconsistent than what Hornish and Penske have been doing. It's way too early to make any predictions, but Hornish has been the strongest all year long.

Vitor Meira is on the verge of winning every single week, but he's still outside the title chase. The Penske and Ganassi cars have been dominating, but Meira is up their tailpipe just about every single race. He's the one driver I've been pulling for because until this week he had been driving an unsponsored car. He's been as solid as a rock and a good kid as well, and will be up there this week at Milwaukee.

Welcome to Milwaukee

Milwaukee is a real flat racetrack. We've been to a lot of different tracks with high banks and high speeds, but Milwaukee is quite different because it's really flat. The cars will be running their complete downforce package, meaning that the same wing package they used at Richmond and on road courses will be used at Milwaukee. The cars will be creating close to 5,500 pounds of total downforce, which is an incredible amount, so it's all about handling and sticking on that flat race track.

Tony Kanaan was a driver I thought was going to shine last week and looked great until his engine quit and put him out of the race. Kanaan will be real strong and I think this is a good chance for Dario Franchitti to have a good showing and another shot for Meira to run well. We know the Penske and Ganassi cars are going to run strong, but Kanaan and Meira are the two drivers who have the best shot to outrun the Penske and Ganassi cars.

Former Cup champion Rusty Wallace will provide coverage for ESPN and ABC during this year's IndyCar Series and selected Nextel Cup races. You can check out all things Rusty at his constantly updated and upgraded Web site at www.rustywallace.com.

Former Cup champion Rusty Wallace will provide coverage for ESPN and ABC during this year's IndyCar Series and selected Nextel Cup races. You can check out all things Rusty at his constantly updated and upgraded Web site at rustywallace.com.

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