Peyton Manning's manager piloting Danica Patrick's entry into NASCAR

December 8, 2009
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As Danica Patrick prepares to announce her entry into NASCAR today, there will be a familiar face leading the parade. At least it will be familiar to just about any sports marketer and the world’s most famous NFL quarterback.

Last year, Patrick enlisted IMG to help rev her career, and now the sports business and marketing powerhouse is taking the steering wheel of the entire Danica enterprise.

Alan Zucker, who represents Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, is heading up the Danica initiative. And those close to IMG said Zucker is pulling out all the stops to make the race car driver a worldwide household name.

Dave Moroknek, president of locally based MainGate, expects the new wave of Danica-mania to be massive once she gets behind the wheel of a fendered car on the NASCAR circuit.

Already, Moroknek said, Patrick’s licensed merchandise line out-sells all other Indy Racing League drivers combined. Moroknek should know. His company is in charge of making, distributing and selling (online and at the track) all of Patrick’s IRL-centric licensed wares.

Now, Moroknek is negotiating with IMG to get a piece of Patrick’s NASCAR business.

“From every indication, the demand for Danica goods when she signs with NASCAR is going to be absolutely huge,” Moroknek said.

And Moroknek thinks the crossover will be good for the IRL as well.

“She has a real shot at being the first successful female driver in NASCAR history,” Moroknek said. “And if that happens, watch out. I think you’ll find people that follow Danica, will follow her in all the series she participates in.”

But Patrick might want to strap in for a bumpy ride in NASCAR. The number of open-wheel drivers that have tried and failed at NASCAR is well chronicled. In addition, the team that Patrick will join, JR Motorsports, is undergoing changes.

JR was founded by Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Rick Hendrick. The team is currently restructuring, with Earnhardt's sister, Kelley Earnhardt, who manages its day-to-day operations, taking an ownership stake along with Tony Eury Jr., Earnhardt Jr.'s cousin and former crew chief. 

Some motorsports insiders have questioned the direction the team is heading. The hiring of Patrick will be our first signal of their ability to evaluate talent. As for Zucker and Moroknek, they're already betting this combination will be a winner.

  • Sounds about right
    Danica and Junior on the same team. That sounds about right. Both are as popular as all get out, but neither one of them have had results worth a hoot. If Danica comes anywhere near running at the front with the big boys, though, everyone will benefit.
  • whoa!
    Danica certainly has a powerhouse team at IMG, so if anyone can push her popularity, they can. But did anyone notice that in addition to Zucker, Mark Steinberg at IMG is her chief advisor and director. FYI: Steinberg is best known as being Tiger Woods' agent. So there's your Danica-Tiger connection. Let's hope that's the only way they're connected.
  • IOW
    Guess Dramanica doesn't think too highly of Indycar's future? Ya Reckon!?
  • Danica is Annica
    Problem is she can't race. Watch this thing turn out to be the last, big hurrah and then the big drive off into the Land of Kournikova.
  • she cant drive, huh?
    Lets see, 5th in points this year, 3rd in the 500 this year,has won an IRL race,and led the 500. I'm sure your resume is much more impressive Burl.Yeah that make sense for Rick Hendrick to give her a ride if she couldn't drive a race car.
  • Again the haters forecast doom and gloom. Danica mania to end, the IRL to end, the 500 to end, the end of the world is coming. So how have those predictions worked out so far?
  • Blinders on
    Ask your hero Tony George how well his "visions" worked out. Kicked to the curb by his own family, it doesn't get much better than that.
  • The Usual
    Lets see, in 5 years in Indy Car,
    81 starts,
    1 win,
    16 top 5,
    top ten is a useless stat in a series with an avg 20 car grid
    Avg start 9.9
    Avg finish 10.1

    I smell success

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