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Friday, August 19, 2011

Danica moving to NASCAR full-time is big boost for sport, big pressure on her shoulders

BROOKLYN, Mich. -- She’s coming. For real. Unofficially.

ESPN is the latest to report that sources have revealed Danica Patrick will be announcing her move to full-time NASCAR racing in 2012 … driving the #7 for JR Motorsports all season.

ESPN’s story gets specific, saying that the announcement will take place in Phoenix, and that the deal will include some Cup races with Stewart-Haas, the team that would presumably provide her ride in Cup for 2013 and beyond.
Of course, the JR Motorsports and Danica both deny it’s official, but any sane person knows it’s going to happen. The Indycar series is a mess, and she’s not doing anything great there anyway. Plus, the biggest thing: She can make a lot more money in NASCAR.

Jr. didn't confirm the move, but he did say that Danica has already been successful, by his measure.
“I think what she’s accomplished already has been success in my opinion. She obviously would want to continue to improve and compete for wins and win races. It’s tough to learn new cars, to learn a new vehicle and be able to drive it well and do well in it and adapt to it. I think she’s done that. She’s awesome about it and she’s really done a great job. I think that we look forward to the future races the rest of this season to be able to work with her,” Jr. said.

Assuming this move by Danica goes as suspected, what are the implications? … well, there are many.
1. Indycar takes a big hit; with her gone, their TV audience and attendance will continue to dwindle because she is a major draw for that series – and there aren’t many others in the field that people really care about.
2. NASCAR is a big winner here … they get another huge star, and even better she’s driving full-time for the sport’s biggest star, Dale Earnhardt Jr. They’re going to get more new fans because of Danica, ratings will rise and attendance will rise. They have to be giddy about this development.
3. This is a big test for Danica. She has been getting better in stock cars during her part-time experiment. Now she’ll have to continue that improvement. No one is expecting her to start being a dominant car right off the bat, but she can’t flounder because she will be in some of the best equipment on the track. All these years many people have doubted her ability and said she just got where she was due to marketing.

This is her chance to prove those people wrong, but there’s no guarantee that she will succeed. If she wants to move up to Cup, she has to show she can first succeed in Nationwide, or the doubters will have more of a case against her.

Whatever happens, get prepared, because unless everyone is getting bad information, DanicaMania is coming at you full steam in 2012. Enjoy the ride.

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