Silly season starts early for Danica

June 11, 2009
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patrickWhere will Danica Patrick land in 2010? It’s the biggest question this side of who shot J.R.? The reason this issue is intensifying is, her Andretti Green Racing contract—which expires at the end of this season—allows her this week to begin negotiating a new contract with any and all teams.

SpeedTV is reporting today that Chip Ganassi is going to make a multi-million dollar run at signing the driving diva for his Indy Racing League team next year, making Patrick the pilot of a third car, joining Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti.

 And if she wants to try her hand at racing fendered cars, SpeedTV’s Robin Miller surmises that Ganassi could slide Patrick behind the wheel of one of his NASCAR rigs.

Ganassi, sources said, is already talking with Patrick’s IMG representative, Alan Zucker, who also represents NFLers Peyton and Eli Manning and golfer Tiger Woods.

But there are bound to be other—probably quite a few other—NASCAR teams aiming to sign Patrick, who finished third in this year’s Indianapolis 500 and is standing fifth in the IRL’s series standings. But this isn’t about Patrick’s standing or even her ability to steer one of the heavier NASCAR boats at high speed. This, as are most things in sports these day, is about selling tickets, attracting sponsors, increasing TV ratings and otherwise generating revenue. And let’s face it, not even NASCAR’s cover boys are garnering as much attention as Patrick these days.

NASCAR over the past two seasons has seen its TV ratings and race attendance decline, and series executives, track owners and team operators are eager to reverse that slide.

Charlotte-based Millsport, in a recent study, counts Patrick as one of only three race car drivers in any circuit with an awareness level above 50 percent among the general population.

Motorsports marketing experts said Patrick’s cross-over to NASCAR could net the series $50 million in fresh sponsorship money. The 27-year-old driver would no doubt bring her current sponsors GoDaddy, Peak, Boost Mobile and Secret.

“I guarantee this is what will happen if Danica Patrick jumps to NASCAR," a sports marketing executive who does business with the racing series told AdvertisingAge. “One, every TV rating for every race will increase from the year before as new fans and old tune it to see if she wins, crashes or pitches a fit and gets into fights on pit road like she does now. Two, track attendance will go up. Three, even though NASCAR has a pretty loyal and wide-open fan base now among women, it will skyrocket if she’s driving every week. And four, I guarantee it will bring in $50 million in new sponsors annually of marketers looking to activate around her, whether it’s [sponsorship] on the car or off the track.”

So hold on to your lug nuts. The green flag in the race to sign Danica has officially been waved.
  • Good time to be Ms. Danica. I am sure the TG/IRL haters will rip her, but the truth is she is the face of motor racing and his very sought after. From a selfish standpoint I hope she stays in the IRL and she needs to get paid well to do so. From a sensible standpoint she needs to realize stock car racing is less finesse and more brute force. From driving an oversized taxi cab around a track to the brutal schedule where you may get one weekend to yourself out of an entire year. She should look at crossover drivers and see how poorly they do as a whole. Sure you have your Juan Paul Montoyas and Tony Stewarts, but then you have your Michael Andrettis and Dario Franchittis who find that the driving is different enough to excel in.

    She needs to stay put and the IRL needs to make sure it happens.
  • Indyman, As usual, you're right on point. I do think, however, you'll get some pushback on the success of Montoya. Sure he has a lot of top ten, top twenty finishes; which mean something to a die-hard Nascar fan; but really don't mean squat to open-wheel fans who think in terms of wins, podiums or points finishes (F1: Top 8). As an open-wheeler, I just cannot get excited about the well, I had a top twenty car nonsense. IMO, if you're not running consistently in the top 5 or 6, then you're just not a success, certainly if you're never made the Neckcar chase, then you really shouldn't be considered a success there. Certainly Montoya is held back by Ganassi's weak Nascar team, and the same would be true for Danica. The only bright spot of her going to Ganassi is then she might be able to stick with the Indy 500 and skip all the boredom in Charlotte in May. Based on the money situation, I can't see her not making the switch, though, the numbers are just too big. She could become the highest paid athlete besides Tiger and I can't believe she'll pass it up.
  • Bob:

    It may be that she'll pass it up for 2 reasons. She enjoys her family life and will have to give up too much freedom for that rigid schedule. Secondly, she is a finesse person in many ways and that isn't something that will work for tintoppers.

    Ganassi is a smart guy. He and other team owners have to keep her in place. I don't believe they will fail other wise Danica becomes the fork to the IRL. If that happens, TG had better run and hide from his sisty uglers before they and momma throw him off the train for good.

    Hey, for all you current or former open wheel fans, these cars, even the much despised Dallara have a certain sleekness to them. The ladies of the IRL won't look to sleek or sexy climbing out of the window of a fat, overweight, piece of crap fabricar. Anyway you slice it, it won't appeal to the sexiness of DP in my opinion.
  • Dancia is good at race tracks where the physical element is not much, her pretty right foot can be put to the floor, and she can rely on wings and things to gleefully glide around the track.

    Sam Hornish Jr. once likened the IRL's superspeedway racing to driving down a big wide interstate.

    That's what Danica is good at. Luckily for her, she is good at the one race that counts.

    NASCAR is a reality tv show with big, clunky, hard to maneuver boxy, sluggish cars that bang and slap around for four hours so the mindless people who watch it can spend, spend, spend.

    If she wants to be a part of all that for the untold millions, more power to her. But she just becomes the female Junior if she does. A sort-of race car driver but nto really, who's job it is to sell stuff. Michael Waltrip is kind of an escort for NASCAR too. That vibe. That's what Danica would be.
  • Pretty good description of nascar! I'd rather watch the leMans this weekend than just about any stock car race.
  • Just make her go away for good. :lol:

    The IRL: Not even danicle can save em!
  • Amen to that Dana.

    And Da Hooey, have you lost your way? I know you can't take you eyes off Danny and Milkey! Go git 'em, big boy!!!
  • At least Milky's got some front end worth taking notice of.

    Danicle has the body of a 14 year old korean boy.

    *(with sincere apologies to all 14 year old korean boys, their moms, dads, sisters and various family members and guardians)

    *David letterman Disclaiimer :lol:
  • I say let her go to Nascar...

    Indycar has seen a steady decline in Ratings since her arrival....maybe it will reverse the trend
  • C'mon DaHooey:

    You actually measure the worth and beauty of a woman simply by the size of her chest? How shallow. Would you say the same for Cameron Diaz, Goldie Hawn, Kate Hudson and countless other that are not so blessed? Should we not have respect for a woman that makes the most of what she has, stays ultimately fit, and trains regularly. I still think you have a hidden desire you're not owning up to.......
  • Oh, and by the way, DaHooey, David Letterman has become nothing more than a low class, left wing hacker. He told so many old jokes about McCain and heart attack jokes about Cheney that they weren't funny anymore. Sad part about it is he and his writers don't even realize it anymore.
  • Dahooey has finally OD'd on the cart-aid. I would tend to think millions of people world wide would disagree on your taste in woman. While I am always for a woman with nice air bags, I would not kick Danica out of bed. Of course if you rate race car drivers by looks, then I am starting to get worried about you.


    I know at least three legends who would disagree with Sam. In the Vs. special on Foyt, Unser and Mears all three agreed that looking at the front straight at Indy it looks wide. But they all agreed that when you are running down the straight at 200+ turn 1 looks to small to get a car through. They said you have to force your self to drive through there because you mind is telling you it can't be done. That doesn't sound like any interstate I have been on. Might explain though why he went to the bigger slower NASCARS.

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