The Economy, not Skill, may prevent Danica Patrick from racing in NASCAR
A few weeks back Dale Earnhardt Jr announced that his sister, Kelley Earnhardt Elledge, who does a lot of the negotiating for JR Motorsports, was in preliminary but serious discussions with Danica to bring her to JR Motorsporst and the Nationwide Series for 2010.
Added to that was the announcement by Michael Andretti that he and Danica had also come to an agreement for her to drive for his team in 2010. An official announcement with Andretti will likely not come until after November 30th, when Andretti-Green Racing will cease to exist in its present form. It will be Andretti Racing with Michael himself taking over the actual racing aspects of the team. It is expected that the agreement between Michael and Danica is just that, between the two of them, with Green nowhere in the mix.
Now it seems, there is more information about the rumors involving Danica's projected move into NASCAR. Danica has spoken to Kevin and DeLana Harvick, Tony Stewart and Gene Haas and to Kelley and Dale Earnhardt Jr. It seems, Dale Jr tells us, that even her fame and notoriety isn't enough to bring those wayward sponsors along for the signing.
Dale Jr has signed Kelly Bires to replace Brad Keseleowski for 2010, however, he tells us that he doesn't have sposnsorship for the 88 for the entire year. They are approximately 1/2 a year short of sponsorship for that car and we haven't even talked about the number 5 car - the car Danica is rumored to be running in 2010. Add to that the immergence of a little known but incredibly talented yound driver by the name of Steve Arpin. He is only one of a handful of extremely talented young drivers who know where they want to race, and that is in NASCAR.
So, a team like KHI, or JR Motorosports or even Stewart-Haas Racing has to consider when speaking to potential sponsors exactly who they want to promote to the sponsor, an established IRL driver who may wish to try her hand at NASCAR, or a guaranteed NASCAR driver who has made his way through the lesser series, earning his wins and respect, who has made it clear, this is where he wants to be, not IRL or F1 or anywhere else.
It's a tough call to make for a team owner, and one he has to consider carefully. Yes, she is Danica Patrick and she will bring in the crowds, but will it be for the right reasons? And will the female fans of NASCAR embrace her the way sponsors hope? Or will they shun her?
No one can know for sure how fans will greet Danica if she makes the move to NASCAR. One thing is for certain, her demanded price for running one race has turned fans against her, both male and female. We can all look back just a couple of years to Carl Edwards, handing out business cards, begging for a chance to race, a chance to show his talent and skill. Back then. no one thought he would be where he is today, a diamond hidden in piece of coal, ready to break out.
Is Danica the same kind of diamond? Only time will tell, but it will take a brave sponsor to make the decision to give a team the money to pay her what she wants, only to take a chance that she won't measure up and, even worse, wreck their cars.
One thing we can count on, nothing has been decided yet, and we will have another dozen artcles or hotlinks before it is.