Danica Patrick circus, led by Tony Stewart, is about to begin in NASCAR
According to an ESPN report, a source close to the negotiations says a deal is imminent that will allow Danica to test out the Nationwide, Truck and ARCA series and get her stock car legs wet while still running full-time next year in the IRL.
I was long convinced that she had no real interest in NASCAR, but it appears that the money in the sport is so plentiful, especially for a star like her, that she’s willing to give it a shot. Her mentor/guide in all of this will be Tony Stewart, who made a similar transition more than a decade ago.
First of all, I have to credit Patrick with doing this in the proper manner. My contention was that she’d never come to NASCAR because she would not want to do the training in the lower series. Apparently, she is proving me wrong. I’m guessing Stewart was instrumental in this, as he also had to do some work in the lower series in the late 1990s before moving up to Cup, and probably stressed to her how important that was to his future success.
"She doesn't have some misguided idea that it's going to be easy," Stewart said. "She wants to do it the right way. She has the intention of doing everything right."
By going this route, dipping into NASCAR without fully diving in, Patrick has an out. If she is terrible in stock cars, which is entirely possible considering the failure of champions like Dario Franchitti, she can always go back to the IRL and race another decade or more. She is the face of that struggling series and they will no doubt be rooting for her to fail in NASCAR so they can keep her.
But if she’s good, she has definitely picked the right NASCAR star with whom to work. Allegedly, the plan would be Stewart guiding her on this mission and the cars could come from the teams owned by Kevin Harvick or Dale Earnhardt Jr. Those speculating into the future envision a Cup lineup at Stewart-Haas racing that features Stewart, Ryan Newman, Harvick and Danica.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s see what the lady can do. Scanning our wonderful Internet, I am already seeing such diverse opinions as “good luck” and “dumb *****” … yes, the woman is very polarizing.
One thing is for certain, regardless of how well she does: It will be a damn circus everywhere she goes. Even in a NASCAR garage with stars as big as Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr., the arrival of Danica – something that was talked about for so many years – will create a buzz unlike anything to hit the sport since Jr’s move to Hendrick.
It will be “Danica this … “ and “Danica that …” every time she hits the track. If she does great, we in the media will praise her for her ability. If she is bad, we’ll tear her to shreds. Her every word and action will be scrutinized. Every other driver will be asked what they think of Danica, no doubt getting annoyed that we’re ignoring them in the process.
I’m not saying it’s right, and media members will likely recognize that it’s going to far. But that doesn’t mean we’ll stop. Danica is a name, and names sell.
The bottom line is this: If you think you have experienced Danica overload during her IRL days, think again: When she begins her transition to NASCAR, it will reach an all-time high.
Harvick almost laps the field
I didn’t think I would ever see this in modern day NASCAR, but I watched tonight as Kevin Harvick almost lapped the entire field in the Nationwide race at Atlanta. With races like this one, which literally made me fall asleep, it’s no wonder this series is on life support. Maybe Danica will spice it up a little, but it’s so bad now that even that’s not going to be enough to keep most people interested.
And for those keeping track, John Wes Townley crashed AGAIN in qualifying. If I owned a car, I’d be scared to let him near it, let alone drive it.