Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Why I want Danica to succeed in NASCAR

Rebecca's Ramble:

Whether you love her or hate her, looks like Danica Patrick will be driving a stock car next year.

The rumors have been flying for months, but ESPN reporter Ryan McGee broke the news last week that apparently the IndyCar star is close to signing a deal with JR Motorsports, under the helm of fellow GoDaddy.com spokesperson Dale Earnhardt Jr. According to the report, the two-year deal will have Patrick race part-time in the ARCA and Nationwide series while running a full-time schedule in the IRL in 2010. The deal is expected to be finalized within days.

The schedule sounds grueling, but it will allow Patrick to wade into the NASCAR pool. The 2005 IRL Rookie of the Year will need time adjusting to the many differences between a stock car and an open-wheeler.

I, for one, am thrilled that Patrick may be making her way to NASCAR as early as the Daytona ARCA race in February. I want Danica to succeed in NASCAR, and here's why:

1) The move will bring more attention to NASCAR. The ARCA and Nationwide series do not receive the exposure that the Sprint Cup Series and it cast of characters do. Having a crossover star like Patrick in ARCA and Nationwide will increase interest outside of NASCAR and therefore media coverage of the races she runs. Patrick will also bring her fan base to the sport, which could help increase sagging TV ratings and race attendance.

2) More sponsors will come calling. NASCAR is a money-driven sport. Patrick has proven to be a successful commodity, and where she goes, so does the money. If Patrick makes the move to NASCAR, she would bring her sponsors with her (GoDaddy.com, which sponsors Patrick in IndyCar, would reportedly sponsor her Nationwide ride.) The move would also likely attract new sponsors wanting a piece of the action. It's a win-win situation for a sport that's been especially hard-hit by the economic downturn.

3) I want to see a woman succeed in the sport. I'm 27 years old. Patrick is 27 years old. That and the fact we like racing may be the only things we have in common, but I would like to see someone like me win a NASCAR race. No woman has ever won a race in any of the three top-tier NASCAR series. Some Patrick stats: She was the first woman to lead a lap in the Indy 500. She finished 3rd in this year's race, the highest finish ever for a woman in the Indy 500. She ended the 2009 IRL season fifth in points, beating her teammate, championship-winning driver Tony Kanaan. With her 2008 win in Japan, Patrick became the first woman to win an IndyCar race. With these stats, I would like to see what Patrick can do in NASCAR.

I've cheered for female drivers in ARCA and truck races, only to see them fall short. I realize the same thing might happen with Patrick. After all, IRL champions like Dario Franchitti and Sam Hornish Jr. have tried to make it in NASCAR, with lackluster results. Franchitti's Cup team shut down last year, and Hornish is still struggling after making his Cup debut in 2007.

But I'm willing to give Patrick a chance. If she wants to take a chance on NASCAR, why shouldn't we take one on her? It's my hope that NASCAR and its fans will give her one.

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The opinions expressed in this article belong to the writer and not Skirts and Scuffs. How do you think Patrick will fare in NASCAR? Please leave your comments below.

2 comments :

I'm not a fan of Danica at all, and have even said in the past that her attitude on and off the track gives female racers a bad reputation. Honestly, I'm not sure if her coming into the sport will do a lot. Other Indy racers came over in droves and look what happened to them. There are a lot of fans/writers who point out that she doesn't have a lot of wins in that series and the odds of winning in NASCAR probably aren't great either. After all, Hornish was an awesome Indy racer and he hasn't managed to capitalize that. I still think it will be interesting to see what she does in the sport and how she does, but I don't see her sticking around unless she gets success right off the bat...

I really believe that Danica has a place in Nascar. I feel that there has been such the lack of female drivers up to now that any that are interested should be welcomed and supported. Danica has her own fanbase. As for how she is represented on TV ads and such, thats how shes being marketed. I hope she can work something out with a team, preferable Jr Motorsports, and is allowed to show what she can or for that matter can't do. Who knows maybe she won't want to be a part of Nascar after a little taste.

Great article! Thanks

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