She had trouble figuring out how to get in the car.
Okay, that was the first day, but it just goes to show us all how really new she is to this sport. Danica had an opportunity to test the ARCA car at Daytona just before Christmas and although weather hindered the first day of practice, that was okay, as Danica had troubles with something that us NASCAR fans wouldn't have thought possible - getting into the car.
But think about it for a minute. The cars she has run in previously have no roof at all, and the driver normally gets all of their gear on, then simply climb in - it's not rocket science, right? Well, we all know that NASCAR cars are built like a normal highway car, in some ways, except for the doors. The driver must climb in through the window, and that seemingly simple task caused some difficulties for Danica. Eventually, she figured it all out, realising that she would have to get in the car first, then put on her helmet.
This isn't Danica's first trip to Daytona, she has competed in the Rolex 24 hour race, twice, however, for her first trip around the track, she viewed it all from the inside of.....a van.
It may seem a little silly to all of us, but again, this all really puts into perspective just exactly how naive Danica is when it comes to NASCAR, and just what a huge leap JR Motorsports has taken.
It has also given Danica a fresh perspective of exactly what her boss, Dale Earnhardt Jr, experiences every time he steps out into public. She commented that
“It was a bit of a circus out there. I’m not unfamiliar with having people around, although it does seem a little funny when there is not much else going on. I definitely feel very singled out. I’m lucky for that, so it definitely felt like there is a lot of interest. I definitely felt the lenses of cameras all morning.”
Day 2 of practice saw Danica spend more time on the track, and a good deal of that time was spent practicing the draft, and achieving speeds over 180 miles per hour. By all counts, drafting is not something that is easy to adapt to, perhaps unless your last name is Earnhardt. Dale Sr could "see" the draft, and Dale Jr seems to have inherited that trait. By the way Tony Eury Jr was smiling after the second day of practice, it seems Danica has a feel for the draft as well, although she wasn't able to get as close to the car in front of her to accurately describe what she was doing as "drafting".
The third day of testing saw Danica unavailable to the media, but more time on the track. She and Tony Jr decided which of the two cars they had brought to the track and she concentrated on driving that car for the majority of the practice time. She spent some time in the draft working with veteran, Bobby Gerhart and part-time Indy Lights racer, Leilani Munter. She also spent more time on solo runs, getting more and more comfortable in the car and increasing her speeds. She will have to make her qualifying run in the ARCA car and the speeds will have to be there if she wants to actually get in the race, something I have no doubt will happen.
Oddly enough, Danica wasn't the only female at the Daytona practice session, with the aforementioned Munter and Milka Duno, also from the IRL giving NASCAR a chance. Also along were Alli Owens, one of my favorites, and the Cope twins, Angela and Amber. The Cope twins aren't to be ruled out, as their uncle is Daytona 500 winner, Derrike Cope. The girls took a year off to finish their schooling, but are focused on "making it in racing" starting with ARCA and moving on to the Truck series.
All in all, Danica had a fairly decent and successful practice session, and her popularity overshadowed the rest of the ladies also making their appearances at Daytona.
It was announced while she was there that she wouldn't debut the Nationwide Series car at Daytona, rather, waiting until the following week at California where the field won't be quite so intimidating, and perhaps, the possible repercussions of an accident not so severe.
Danica and Tony Eury Jr have also settled into a comfortable comaraderie. Their lifestyles are really so different, but yet they are in the same business, and that common ground gives them stability. Recently, Tony Jr introduced Danica to Crispy Creme donuts. Danica follows a strict dietary regimen, partly due to the number of the photo shoots she commits to, and the number that feature her in so few clothes. However, after a recent late night in the shop, Tony Jr ordered in pizza for the gang still gathered there. Danica, of course, abstained from pizza, leading to the discussion about forbidden foods, including Crispy Creme donuts. After Danica's most recent photo shoot, Tony Jr sent a "couple dozen" of the dounts to Danica, and she reportedly tried them and likes them just fine.
The next few months will be busy ones for Danica. Not only does she have Daytona and the ARCA series race there to prepare for, but she also has California and the Nationwide series car to become comfortable in. And not only that, the Izod IRL series will start up sooner than she realises.
Will she be able to be successful in all the races she runs? Time will tell, but it will be a challenge.
Danica's first test session at Daytona - so how'd she do?
She had trouble figuring out how to get in the car.