Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Welcome to Nascar, Danica Patrick

Danica Patrick has been very busy during her winter break from racing. She signed a three year contract extension in early December to stay with Andretti Autosport and continue in the IndyCar Series. A week or so later Patrick announced she will run a partial schedule in the NASCAR Nationwide Series in a JR Motorsports entry. The deal with JRM is a two year deal. Her sponsor in both racing endeavors will be long time partner Go Daddy, the internet powerhouse for domain names and web hosting.

What does Danica Patrick’s racing future hold? Patrick recently completed her fifth season in the IZOD IndyCar Series. She finished a career best fifth in points. The highpoint in her IndyCar career has got to be her lone victory, coming in Japan in 2008. She really wants to win the Indy 500, the Crown Jewel of the IndyCar season, and after finishing third last year, it’s no surprise she re-signed. Danica has a lot of talent and has won many accolades in her racing career, including the 2005 Indy Car Rookie of the Year. Will she win an Indy Car title? Probably not. Patrick will always race in great equipment, but I don’t think she’s a series title contender. Why? She is very aggressive behind the wheel and very emotional. Patrick’s emotions often get the best of her and open wheel cars aren’t the most durable when it comes to “rubbin is racin.” Remember the Indy 500 in '08 and her scuffle with Ryan Briscoe? What about Milwaukee '07 when she shoved Dan Wheldon? I know, I know, tempers run high in any competitions. I think she’s a very good driver and has a few more wins coming on the horizon.

What does Danica Patrick do best? She is a marketing goldmine. Many times in the racing world, talent isn’t the deciding factor unfortunately. It’s sponsorship. Patrick will never have to worry about sponsors because companies will battle to the death to be associated with her. She has won the Most Popular Driver Award three times in the Indy Car series. She has had and continues to have great relationships with Motorola, Boost Mobile, Go Daddy, and many other companies. Here’s a shameless plug for our sponsor Go Daddy, a one stop shop for everything you need to establish your internet identity. Patrick has been featured in many commercials and magazines, including FHM and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue and is a mainstream celebrity.

Danica Patrick has the star power to race wherever she wants to. Why would she want to try NASCAR, you ask? The simple answer is MONEY. During the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, 45 drivers collected over $1 million in winnings. It has been announced that Patrick will run in the ARCA Series opener at Daytona in an effort to get approved by NASCAR to run on some bigger tracks and she will compete in 10-14 Nationwide races. JR Motorsports is setting up a race schedule around Patrick’s IndyCar season. Patrick recently completed her ARCA tests and rumors say that everybody was pleased with the results. This foray in NASCAR could be a long, challenging experience for Patrick. She is going to tear up some cars this season and piss off some people, as almost every rookie driver does.

That brings us to the final question. Will she win in NASCAR? I say yes she will, but I want to add an asterisk. A big plus for Patrick, just like in IndyCar, she will get the privilege of driving top of the line equipment and working with top notch people. Doesn’t everybody win who drives a Hendrick car win? Even the “bad” drivers get lucky and pull off a fuel mileage win once in a while. Casey Mears did it at Charlotte in 2007 and Dale Jr. stretched it to victory lane at Michigan in 2008. This is the kind of win I can see Danica Patrick backing into. Or she gets angry and wrecks everybody that isn’t a start and park team. Overall, it should be fun watching her grow into her new ride and the season will definitely be a roller coaster ride. Good luck, Danica.

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