Before you come at me with your Danica Patrick hot takes and she’s only in the series because she’s attractive but your weaponry down and hear me out.
Natalie Decker is actually good and deserves to be on track with everyone else out there. Hot take city that only ESPN morning shows will give you right there.
Decker qualified 12th for Sunday’s Kentuckiana Ford Dealers 200 at Salem Speedway. Not the best qualifying run considering where her teammates qualified. It was her race pace that shocked myself and everyone in the group that went.
Watching Decker for the first time in person was interesting. At one point she was running nose to tail at the back side of the Top 10 with Riley Herbst (Joe Gibbs Team) and Thad Moffitt (Richard Petty’s Grandson). It was at that moment I looked at the three of them and thought, wow there’s a lot of money and not much talent in that group.
A few laps later Decker started making moves. Having conserved her tires efficiently she started diving to the bottom and passing cars with ease. She drove up into the Top 5 at one point on speed. Reeling cars in that were a straightaway ahead and passing them clean. It’s like she was Ricky Bobby grabbing another gear and passing cars at will. Essentially it was the exact opposite of what I expected to see.
Really solid car control with composed decision making. Salem is an easy place to rough someone up, move them out of the way and easily put them in the wall. Decker managed to not do that, instead, she passed cars on the bottom, found different lines that worked and overall drove a great race until Travis Braden got into her and essentially ended her day before the halfway point. Much to the disappointment of a majority of the middle-aged men in the stands that were scrambling for the phones when she walked through the grandstand.
Decker is the real deal in ARCA. Read that sentence back in its entirety. Can her talent carry to the truck series or Xfinity series? Maybe someday. Her 15-year old teammate Chandler Smith and 17-year old teammate Christian Eckes were faster than her all weekend and battled for the win. She needs to catch those kids first before people talk about her moving up. Running a full ARCA schedule is great for development though and she probably needs to do that for two years before there’s any talk about what her next step is.
Do we really need to give our stamp of approval on Decker? Absolutely not, she’s just as talented as a number of guys she’s racing against. We’d never blog “Christian Eckes, actually good” because people have already decided he’s good. With Decker, all we’ve heard is how she doesn’t deserve to be there by people that have never watched her race. Their reasoning, of course, is that she’s a female.
On a side note, we parked next to her parent’s coach, shoutout to Mom Decker for the solo cups.
Ps. Her sponsor is N|29, why isn’t the car number 29? BRANDING, IT’S ALL ABOUT BRANDING
Follow us on Twitter @ApexOff