Danica Patrick Finally Signs NASCAR Deal
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Danica to NASCAR: An IndyCar Fan's Thoughts

12/9/09 in NASCAR   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

So, after months of endless speculation, rumors, and no comments, Danica Patrick has finally signed her NASCAR deal, a 2 year part-time Nationwide deal with Junior Motorsports. At the same time, Patrick will continue to drive full-time in the Izod IndyCar Series with Andretti Autosport. That's a 2 year deal with a one year option. It doesn't take a genius to connect the dots of what will likely happen after 2011.

From an IndyCar fan's perspective, my thoughts and emotions on this ride have changed as it's dragged on. First, it was disbelief, because like others, I didn't think Danica could succeed in stock cars. The transition is too great, and I didn't see how it would help her brand outside of a short-term cash grab. Then came the anger stage (those that were involved in those thread remember that). Now, though, it's just an apathetic "meh," just like everyone else. It dragged out too long, but here we are.

For the record, I do NOT speak for other IndyCar fans wtih this piece. I'm not trying to speculate how Danica will do in stock cars, nor am I trying to start a fight with the NASCAR fans. I'm writing this for me to try and figure what the hell I'm to think of this.

First, can this help IndyCar? I've heard in some circles that IndyCar can get an exposure benefit. Danica, of course, will get lots of attention during her NASCAR races, and well, at some point, they have to mention her IndyCar career. Could her new fans in NASCAR check her out at her (for now) full-time job? I hear this, but don't really buy it. These "Danica fans" didn't really seem to materialize during her IndyCar career, as attendance and ratings figures can attest. Second, I'm sure NASCAR will downplay that part of Danica's career as much as possible. In the end though, IndyCar blogger pressdog is probably correct on the situation. The money quote:

Yeah, good for her. Yeah Danica. Some are saying "You see the IndyCar right there in the shot with the N-word car! Great exposure for IndyCar."

Pardon me while I buy a cake and plan a party! We're "in the shot." So is the third-string cornerback during the Super Bowl celebration. You can "clearly see the IndyCar logo!" Super-awesome. Except for the fact that I have some pride and prefer not to see IndyCar grovel for table scraps from Cabland or to have the series' nuts kept in a jar on Danica's nightstand.

Pretty much. Not a good situation. I can't think of a way this is a positive development for IndyCar, and I'm not going to try.

Secondly, I would like to comment on Danica's skill level. As we all know, she has one career victory in 81 IndyCar starts. However, that does not mean she's a completely untalented hack, as many here and elsewhere have suggested. She's a moderately talented driver who consistently runs in the top 10, and occasionally top 5. She rarely crashes, partly due to ability to bring it home, and partly due to a conservative driving style (which is likely a reason for a lack of wins). Not a world-beater, but above average. Did her looks and gender get her farther than necessarily deserved? Yes, but that's modern racing. Talent isn't the sole arbiterer of who goes where. Attracting sponsors matters, and she certainly can do that. To use an often-used NASCAR phase, it is what it is.

That said, 2009 was her best season in the cockpit, despite the addition of more road courses to the IndyCar schedule and the distractions from the endless discussions of her future. She was 5th in points in a year where the top two teams, Penske and Ganassi, and their four drivers dominated the season. She also showed more maturity than ever before, not getting into a single argument or throwing an on-track tantrum. While it could be a one year aberration, the possibility exists that she's finally matured a bit, something that some don't seem to want to acknowledge. I understand Danica is not that likeable a person. I'm not a fan myself of her personally. I just wanted to add some context to the discussion as someone who seen just about every race she's run since she hit the stage in 2005.

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12/10/09   |   ckillorin   |   219 respect

mrward51 wrote:
Cool, Id like to see her whoop stewarts yang..."Ladies and gentlemen-------The     NNEEWWW    Sprint Cup champ

thats Mr. Swagger!!!!!!

12/10/09   |   mrward51   |   46 respect

Cool, Id like to see her whoop stewarts yang..."Ladies and gentlemen-------The     NNEEWWW    Sprint Cup champ

12/9/09   |   Debi_L   |   11784 respect

Eric_ wrote:
Who is saying that it was easy? Nobody has said that (at least in this country, Euro F1 fans might be different). Did I think they'd be better staring out? Yes, but these are mostly drivers I grew up watching. I overrate them because of my childhood memories. I've since admitted I was wrong. This feels like a strawman argument. NASCAR isn't the form of racing fighting for respect here.
(Edited by Debi_L)

someone in another  thread said it was going to be a piece of cake for her - there have only been a hundred or so comments on the subject

12/9/09   |   maddhatter6691   |   7918 respect

I hope she does well. Personally I dont watch any form of car racing. But as times change Dont be surprised to see her in the top spots. I know it's kinda scary to lose to a girl 

12/9/09   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Debi_L wrote:
I know that you are, Tina and unfortunately there aren't enough of us.  And that was pretty much the same as my comment in another Danica thread (which one I have no clue) but that if i were a slice like some people are suggesting, Dario, AJ, Patrick, etc all would be Series champions by now!

Who is saying that it was easy? Nobody has said that (at least in this country, Euro F1 fans might be different). Did I think they'd be better staring out? Yes, but these are mostly drivers I grew up watching. I overrate them because of my childhood memories. I've since admitted I was wrong. This feels like a strawman argument. NASCAR isn't the form of racing fighting for respect here.

12/9/09   |   Debi_L   |   11784 respect

Eric_ wrote:
Carpentier's a bad example, since the last year he was full-time in IndyCars was 2005, and he never actually got a full-time ride in stock cars, so it's not like he had a real shot at it.

Edit: Also, both Franchitti and Carpentier are in their mid to late-30s, and I really think age matters in this, in a "can't teach an old dog new tricks" way.

ummmmm Danica isn't racing full time either????? She's trying a handful of Nationwide and ARCA races was my understanding.......

12/9/09   |   Debi_L   |   11784 respect

wrote:
Deb: Better yet, maybe she should ask Dario Franchetti or Partick Carpentier about the move from open wheel to NASCAR. I am also a fan of RACING having attended many F1, sports car and Indy type races as well as NASCAR. For me, there is nothing like watching a fast car maneuver around a race track.

I know that you are, Tina and unfortunately there aren't enough of us.  And that was pretty much the same as my comment in another Danica thread (which one I have no clue) but that if i were a slice like some people are suggesting, Dario, AJ, Patrick, etc all would be Series champions by now!

12/9/09   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

(Edited by Eric_)

Carpentier's a bad example, since the last year he was full-time in IndyCars was 2005, and he never actually got a full-time ride in stock cars, so it's not like he had a real shot at it.

Edit: Also, both Franchitti and Carpentier are in their mid to late-30s, and I really think age matters in this, in a "can't teach an old dog new tricks" way.

12/9/09   |   Debi_L   |   11784 respect

Eric_ wrote:
Her first race? That's a small, small sample size with no predictive value. I mean, this time last year people were calling Montoya a bust. It'll be a few years before we know if this works.

I never ever said Montoya was a bust.  I honestly think she will be on a fast track to learn.  There will be a whole bunch of people tuning in to see how she does.  If she isn't able to show she has some measure of talent in the car right off the bat, JR Motorsports, HMS and GoDaddy aren't going to save her.  Of course, just as the TV stations  followed Jimmie Johnson around the track all during the Chase even when he wasn't doing anything spectacular, I am sure they will folllow Danica.  Never mind what I said above then, it won't matter if she is last, the TV cameras will be ALL over her.

12/9/09   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Debi_L wrote:
As you well know Eric, I'm a RACING fan.  I think you have aptly put into words a lot of what I've been wondering about.   I do NOT like Pressdog though, mostly because of the sooooooo out there anit-NASCAR attitude.  I don't understand why people cannot just be fans of racing, as I am.??
Anyway, , enough rambling.  I don't wish her ill in  NASCAR, I just don't think she will come out and take the sport by storm.  Do I want her to fail?? Hell no! But it IS going to be a challenge.  Ask Tony Stewart, or Juan Montoya or any other open wheel driver who has made the move.   I think her very first race will give us a great idea of how she will do.

and BTW, it is Jr Motorsports

Her first race? That's a small, small sample size with no predictive value. I mean, this time last year people were calling Montoya a bust. It'll be a few years before we know if this works.

12/9/09   |   Debi_L   |   11784 respect

As you well know Eric, I'm a RACING fan.  I think you have aptly put into words a lot of what I've been wondering about.   I do NOT like Pressdog though, mostly because of the sooooooo out there anit-NASCAR attitude.  I don't understand why people cannot just be fans of racing, as I am.??
Anyway, , enough rambling.  I don't wish her ill in  NASCAR, I just don't think she will come out and take the sport by storm.  Do I want her to fail?? Hell no! But it IS going to be a challenge.  Ask Tony Stewart, or Juan Montoya or any other open wheel driver who has made the move.   I think her very first race will give us a great idea of how she will do.

and BTW, it is Jr Motorsports