With news she'll skip 2012 Indy 500, Danica Patrick is clearly done with Indycar; focusing on her NASCAR future
The writing was on the wall all along.
For all of 2011, everyone knew Danica was leaving Indycar for NASCAR in 2012. She kept saying it was still up in the air, but it has come out now that she told her Indycar team a year ago she wouldn't be back.
So here we are, and Danicamania can now take full effect. She will be running the full Nationwide series this season, and many thought she would still take part in the Indy 500, since she is only a part-time Cup driver in 2012.
No dice, Danica has announced. She'll be in Charlotte for the Coke 600, so there is no Indy 500 for her this year, she announced, though she may attempt it in the future.
She said skipping Indy was a “business decision.”
“I hope to do it in the future, the Indy 500 that is, and maybe it will be a double,” she said. “But at this point in time, after a lot of conversations, it’s just going to be the Coke 600 and I think it’s going to be a big challenge. It’s just is something that didn’t work out, as far as the business side of things. ... For this year, it just didn’t happen.”
Translation; she's probably never going to race an Indycar again. The double isn't going to happen, not by her or anyone else.
By skipping the Indy 500 this year, when she clearly could have done it due to her part-time Cup schedule, Danica is sending a clear message.
I'm moving on, she is saying.
It was nice knowing you Indycar, but I'm off to the bigger bucks of NASCAR, she is saying.
Even your biggest stage isn't big enough for me anymore, she is saying.
She once dreamed of winning the Indy 500.
Now she dreams of winning the Daytona 500, and the Coke 600 and the Brickyard 400.
History shows there really is no going back once this bridge is crossed, so the Indycar powers-that-be will have to find a new driver to market come Indy 500 time. Their biggest superstar is gone and will likely never show her face in that series again.
It's a move that was not surprising to anyone who has followed Danica's career. Indycar is a minor-league motorsport compared to NASCAR and was not going to contain her.
She was easily the biggest star on that stage, and even though she's new to NASCAR it's pretty clear that she's already a top 3 or 4 star in terms of overall popularity among the general public (behind Dale Earnhardt Jr. and maybe Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon.)
If she can manage to win a Nationwide race this year, or do something crazy like win a Cup race (not likely, but just throwing it out there), she'll easily become the biggest motorsports star in the country -- right up there with good old Jr.
And even if that doesn't happen (which is likely the case), her decision to skip Indy makes a bold statement: She's all NASCAR all the time, so don't expect her to go open-wheeling ever again (and considering how the Indycar season ended tragically last year, I can't say I blame her).
She might claim otherwise, but considering how honest she was last year about the move, don't believe any of the hype she might spit out. Her Indycar days are done.
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