(photo courtesy of the Indy Racing League)
The cat is definitely out of the bag, even though in reality the cat was NEVER really in the bag! Danica Patrick is hooked up with JR Motorsports driving the #7 GoDaddy.com Chevy. The contract signed is for a two year, part time stint in the Nationwide Series.
The Danica talk in NASCAR is a big story that is not about will she make the Chase, since she is going to be involved in the Nationwide Series. Rather the talk is about whether she can make it at all in NASACAR, how she will be treated by the media, how her fellow race car drivers will treat her, and how will the fans treat her.
As we have witnessed over the past few years, transitioning to the NASCAR “dump truck” from any other form of auto racing takes time. Rusty Wallace has commented many times from his post with ESPN, that it takes about three years to grasp the NASCAR knowledge and apply that to their other experiences of a race car driver, and then become competitive. Look at the time it took the world class driver from Formula 1 and the Indy Car Series, JPM (Juan Pablo Montoya). This was JPM’s third full year in the Earnhard- Ganassi Racing #42Target Chevy, and finally he was running with “The Big Dogs”!
Darrell Waltrip is one who has said that Danica faces an uphill battle. DW says, “I just think that the pressure of performing and being as good as people expect her to be is probably more than any person can handle. She is going to be under such a magnifying glass.”
There are many questions that may or may not get answered in the 2010 Nationwide season. The first question is can she apply some of her IRL race car skills to NASCAR. Nobody knows the answer for sure. Not Danica nor any of the “talking heads” know what the final results will be. But keep one important fact to keep in mind, many talented male race car drivers have attempted to transition to NASCAR and failed. Remember Dario Franchitti, Jimmy Vasser, Steve Kinser, and the names could go on, all tried their luck in NASCAR and quietly left with their collective tails tucked between their legs.
The one thing that definitely works in Danica’s favor is that she comes into the series with a ton of money from GoDaddy.com and got hooked up with a very good race team, JR Motorsports, backed by Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Rick Hendrick. She will be driving very good equipment. But the downside of the arrangement is that she is coming onto NASCAR as a part-time driver, rather than attacking the series full time. The learning curve for her in NASCAR will look like a vertical line!
What is your thoughts on Danica Patrick coming to NASCAR as a part-time Nationwide competitor?
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!