Danica's recent NASCAR success raises questions

March 7, 2011
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Danica Patrick’s fourth place finish in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Las Vegas on Saturday brings up three big questions.

First, will her most recent success earn Patrick some respect from her critics and fendered-car brethren?

Before the howling begins about Patrick being the beneficiary of fuel strategies and not her racing ability, it’s also fair to say the same good fortune (and then some) benefitted Saturday’s Nationwide race winner Mark Martin.

Open-wheel fans will remember that Patrick was criticized after her only IndyCar victory in Motegi in 2008 because she didn’t need more fuel at the end of her race and many of her competitors did. Well, if that criticism is fair for Patrick, then it should also be leveled at NASCAR veteran Martin, the winningest Nationwide driver ever. He, too, was the benefactor of his competitors’ late-race refueling on Saturday. I won’t even mention Brad Keselowski’s flat tire.

The other two questions are even more intriguing. If Patrick continues her success in the Nationwide series, then later the Sprint Cup series, and at the same time experiences no further progress in IndyCar, is that an indictment of the Andretti Autosport team that has powered her around the open-wheel circuit since 2007?

Yes, Patrick has run up front at times on the IndyCar circuit, but her progress has stalled more recently, and Patrick hasn’t been shy about saying when she thought her equipment and crew weren’t up to snuff, most recently during last season. Maybe, as her critics say, Patrick is a whiner. Or maybe her complaints are justified.

The third big question is actually two questions in one. How much more success does Patrick need before getting shoved up to NASCAR’s top level, the Sprint Cup Series? And will Patrick mean as much to NASCAR as she has to IndyCar?

The answer to the first part: After another three or four top five finishes, her sponsor, GoDaddy, would probably push for the move to Sprint Cup. It likely wouldn’t be this year, but if Patrick can continue her success under the tutelage of the JR Motorsports team, don’t be surprised to see her running some Sprint Cup races next year. She’s already running against some of stock car racing’s biggest stars in the Nationwide series.

There’s been speculation that Patrick will eventually replace the 52-year-old Martin powered by Hendrick Motorsports and sponsored by GoDaddy. Martin’s contract with Hendrick expires in 2011.

Of course, that move would mean the end of her IndyCar career.

Which brings us to Part B of our last question. Can Patrick be the kind of star in NASCAR that she is in IndyCar?

NASCAR has more stars in its constellation than IndyCar, but Patrick should be able to give them a run for their money in terms of media buzz. (Before I start World War III among race fans, I’m talking about star power here, not necessarily driving ability.)

Patrick’s television commercials (especially those with Dale Earnhardt Jr.) are plastered all over broadcast TV. She is easily, like it or not, the most followed driver by the media during Nationwide races.

Her interview skills still need a bit of polish, but she seems to be maturing into her star role. I don’t think Patrick will ever prop up NASCAR the way she does IndyCar, but I think it’s difficult to argue that a Patrick success story on the Sprint Cup circuit wouldn’t give the good ole boys a needed burst of speed.

  • So Long Danica
    I believe NASCAR is paving the way for her to assist them in attempting to rejuvenate their brand after experiencing slides in ratings and attendance that have become apparent the past few years.

    Mark Martin now knows how Dan Wheldon felt in 2005, when a fourth place finish trumps a win.

    As an INDYCAR fan I am going to hate to see her go, but she will do what her handlers tell her, and that probably means adios INDYCARS.

    Randy Bernard and crew have been taking all the right steps to broaden the message beyond 'Danica' and I believe those efforts will pay off when she bolts for bucks.
  • I agree
    It's rare for me to agree with a stodgy paid speedway spokesperson, but I do.

    Frankly, I can't wait for her to leave the ranks of the Indycars. FINALLY it will put the focus on racing and not some soft porn model gimmick that has propped up the IRL since she was exploited by the series in 2005.

    Anthony, I understand this story angle but serious issues remain with the Indycar series that have received NO coverage here or anywhere. What's up? Three weeks from the start of the lame duck 2011 IRL season and not a peep about this or the centennial. They got you on an Indy gag-order too?
    Mark Martin drives the #5 and his contract ends at the end of this season. Kasey Kahne is already scheduled to fill this ride for the 2012 season. Kahne's stop at Red Bull racing is just a temporary. If Danica was to go anywhere for Sprint level, it would be with Stewart-Haas Racing since he has all the HMS equipment but only has 2 teams, his and the #39
  • Danica's best bet
    With so much instability in IndyCar racing, I think it is a given Danica is going to become a full-time stock racer. This year she has a mix of both types of racing. For 2012 I think she needs to contend the Nationwide Series full-time, plus some Truck races, and maybe even some ARCA races to get as much seat time as humanly possible. Then her debut in a Cup car should come at a place like the second race at Pocono in 2012 where she can stretch out and just get a feel for it. Then a full-time effort in 2013. This would be a serious, proper approach and quell the suggestion she is a gimmick. Her run at Las Vegas was no gimmick and I stand corrected for suggesting it. It has a 'gimmick' feel to it all, but she clearly has the skill to do this stock car racing thing.
  • Doesn't Matter
    None of this matters. Cheif and Burl tell me that Indycar won't be around by the time Danica makes the move to Sprint Cup. Therefore, it's not even a choice she will be able to make. Danica is moving over to NASCAR because that will be the only place to go race when "Nostra-chief's" predictions come true.
  • the point
    Danica will move to NASCAR because she has the ability to make it there, not because the ICS goes up in smoke, and yes, if Andretti had given her a better car, better coaching and better support, she'd have won more open-wheel races by now, and maybe even Indianapolis. IndyCar could use a few more people like Tony Eury Jr. That would certainly help the series' Road to Indy.
  • tutoring Danica
    Patrick was coached during the weekend by former NASCAR Truck Series champion Johnny Benson and she also took some tuition from Hendrick Motorsport's leading crew chief Chad Knaus, with whom she spent time during Sprint Cup Series practice. A team doesn't take this kind of care with a driver that they're not seriously considering bringing up to the Sprint Cup Series.
  • Danica
    There's no room for her at Hendrick and just because Stewart has support from Hendrick doesn't really mean anything since Danica drives for JR Motorsports which is half owned by Hendrick.
  • Better car
    That's not gonna do it. They're all the same in IRL.

    Honda wanted Danica at Andretti. That's why her prowess as a driver didn't attract Ganassi or Penske. That's why they unloaded Tony Kanose. That team will be lost this year....she can't setup a car.

    What's up J? How about that Firestone, huh? And Danica wins another 4th place race.
  • IRL?
    Every person who keeps saying "IRL".

    Get over it. There aint no "IRL" any more.

    It's called "IndyCar"

    Repeat...over and over until you stop typing the three IRL letters.
  • But but but
    Seriously, what's the difference what it's called? We like to call it CARTLite or CART3 too. It's just an IPO away....true.
  • Wake up, Danica going sprinting
    Wake up fellas, the fact that GoDaddy wants Danica in the Sprint Cup means everything. When will the gearheads face it, Danica is somewhat above average driver, but as a marketer, few can match her, even in NASCAR. She'll be full-time in the Sprint Cup next year. The plans are already being made. And yes, Andretti is culpable for not getting DP to victory lane more often.
    • 1) For the most part, probably not. The fendered folks do not like outsiders, especially women. Unless they are cooking dinner.

      2) Could be, or could be that NASCAR suits her better.

      3a) Probably before she is ready. NASCAR is desperate for changing their fortunes. They will look favorably on any team that picks her up.

      3b) As much? Probably not. A lot? Yep. NASCAR has tried to lure females with the "young guns" but what better way than a female who has already drawn a lot of females to IRL. And it will not hurt the typical male fan interest either.

      While NASCAR is desperately trying to get Danica in the fold, the IRL still has several good female drivers in the series. Not with the same sex appeal, but now it is time to see a woman succeed more on her driving skills than on her looks.
    • Not that anybody will see it...
      ...but Ana Beatriz and Simona both surely have the ability to win. The cars are not hard to drive, so being outmatched in strength and endurance is not a factor like it once might have been. Don't be surprised if one of these gets a win or at the very least, lands on the podium this season. Sadly, few will see it.
    • Go or Go home
      GoDaddy doesn't want their car on the hauler on Race day, Once Cup makes a rule change to the top 40 we'll see Danica in Cup not before. Nationwide is a far cry from Cup. Example: Bush dominates in Trucks and nationwide and is top 20 in cup. I'd love to see Danica fighting with the go or go home crew each race. Whatever team takes the chance will have to buy a spot for her first 6 races and pray she can maintain a top 35 spot.
    • Fossil Fuel Racing
      & the ICE is so last century. Like horse and buggy days

    Post a comment to this blog

    We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
    You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
    Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
    No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
    We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

    Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

    Sponsored by
    1. Uh, sorry Johnnie, but you are incorrect. Despite the assertions by yourself and various defenders and captains, sports attendance is NOT off significantly at most sporting events in the US. Variances in attendance has been in the range of single digits, both + & - for years now. MLB has had most of its best overall attendance nubers in the last decade, and that trend has been consistent for most major sporting events. The number one issue cited by most fans when asked about attendance is the overall cost of attending. The presence of HD and big screen televisions in home doesn't even register, as a factor for not attending an event. VALUE in the product is the key, and apparently is something lacking in the current ICS. What other explanation is there when with what is routinely touted as the "best" racing on the planet, fans are staying away in DROVES. A "close" title battle into the last event at Fontana, with the "cars and stars" of the ICS, and who showed up? MAYBE 8K. Sorry, but HD TV isn't to blame for that kind of fan apathy.

    2. Do you need finance to establish your business ? Are you interested in getting a loan at 3% from our private company? If so please Email: suntrust_oil@blumail.org

    3. If she was worth the $ the public outcry over direct tv dropping them would have kept them on their dishes as we have seen with other companies. I too quit watching channel 13 after she showed up since I left channel 8 because of her all show rather than production results. When Randy on 8 corrected her she had a big head and incorrectly challenged his correction for pronunciation of a city. Other antics while she matures was too much for me with her very inaccurate forecasts. All the forecasters were predicting rain until Thursday except Chris. They predicted sunny on Thursday but instead of rain until Thursday upon which the sun would finally make it out in full glory Chris was right on the money just as I too predicted looking at the radar on weather.gov. One thing I love about Angela is the fear you can see in her every time it thunders in the winter. It far exceeds the entertainment value of her body language (high heel noise drags, depression, etc) when her forecasts are so incorrect. Her hair stands on end, you have to see it!!!

    4. Good Day, Apply For A Loan I am Mr Fernadez Antonio, a private Loan lender and a cooperate financial for real estate and any kinds of business financing. I also offer Loans to individuals, Firms and cooperate bodies at 3% interest rate We offer any kind of loans. email us via fernadezloaninvest@outlook.com LOAN APPLICATION FORM First name:......................... Middle name:......................... Last name:........................................ Date of birth (yyyy-mm-dd):....................... Gender:........................................... Marital status:................................... Total Amount Needed............................... Loan Duration.................................... Address:.......................................... City:............................................. State/province:................................... Zip/postal code:.................................. Country:.......................................... Phone:............................................ Fax:.............................................. Mobile/cellular:.................................. Monthly Income.................................... Occupation:....................................... Best Regard, Mr Fernadez Antonio.

    5. i will love to share my testimony to you all the people in world i got married to my husband about 2 year ago we start having problems at home like we stop sleeping on the same bed,fighting about little things he always comes home late at night,drinking too much and sleeping with other women out side i have never love any man in my life except him. he is the father of my child and i don't want to loose him because we have worked so hard together to become what we are and have today .few month ago he now decided to live me and the kid,being a single mother can be hard sometimes and so i have nobody to turn to and i was heart broken.i called my mom and explain every thing to her,my mother told me about DR.okoro how he helped her solve the problem between her and my dad i was surprise about it because they have been without each other for three and a half years and it was like a miracle how they came back to each other. i was directed to DR. okoro on his email:okorospell@gmail.com and explain everything to him,so he promise me not to worry that he will cast a spell and make things come back to how we where so much in love again and that it was another female spirit that was controlling my husband he told me that my problem will be solved within two days if i believe i said OK So he cast a spell for me and after two days my love came back asking me to forgive him i Am so happy now. so that why i decided to share my experience with every body that have such problem contact Dr okoro the great spell caster on his email addresses spellcasterforlove@outlook.com