Is Danica’s Job In Jeopardy?

Danica Patrick

(WOMR file photo)

For the past week there has been an abundance of news coming out of the garage area regarding the perennial “silly season”, as it is called.

It has been released to the public that Juan Pablo Montoya is not being tendered employment at his long time home, Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing, aftger the end of the 2013.  Kevin Harvick is splitting with his only Sprint Cup employer, Richard Childress Racing.  Harvick will be moving over to Stewart-Haas Racing behind the wheel of their newly formed #4 Budweiser Chevy for 2014.  Additionally, Ryan Newman was informed by Stewart-Haas Racing that his services were no longer needed after the 2013 season, leaving the #39 driver’s seat vacant.

My curiosity has been piqued by the dismissal of both Ryan Newman by Stewart-Haas Racing, and Juan Pablo Montoya by Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing just in the past week or two.

In regards to JPM’s contract not being renewed here is my thoughts:  

Here is a “world class” race car driver, Juan Pablo Montoya, who has excelled at IndyCar, as well as, Formula 1 racing in the past decade, not being retained in his present Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing #42 Target Chevy team.  The obvious reason that Ganassi did not see a need to retain JPM is that JPM failed to perform, to live up to his past reputation is the racing world.  Montoya did, however, win two road course race in his seven year tenure with Ganassi.  Those two wins were obviously not enough to save his job with Ganassi!

Nevertheless, JPM really failed to meet his past successes, and to fulfilled his potential, as a viable threat to win races each and every Sunday during the season! Therein lies the reason for his termination!  Chip Ganassi gave Juan seven years to try to master the one part of his racing resume that was lacking, stock car racing, to truly make JPM a world renown racer.  Other than the one year that JPM made The Chase, he has finished the season around mid pack, additionally, during those seasons wrecked a fair number of race cars!  Simply put, JPM did not live up to the hype and the expectations of the Ganassi organization!

Looking at Ryan Newman’s case there are many similarities:

Ryan Newman has been a hit and miss driver since leaving the Penske Racing organization.  The number of poles that he has won, the number of races won, and in general, the overall performance by his team at Stewart-Haas Racing has been subpar.  Since Newman moved over to the newly formed Stewart-Haas Racing, his performances have lacked the same gusto, “the rocket man” image, that was exhibited in his earlier days at Penske Racing.  Ryan has become a “mid-packer”, only occasionally winning a pole, or only winning one race a year.  That kind of performance at SHR is a dramatic departure from his heydays at Penske Racing.

Once again, I believe that NASCAR, being a performance driven sport, and the lack thereof by Newman, was the reason that SHR terminated Newman. Strictly business, and a lack of return on the investment on Newman’s part resulted in his termination.

Let’s Look at Danica Patrick’s performance:

Now we look at Danica Patrick and her performance this year, coupled with her performance in the Nationwide Series for two years with JR Motorsports.  In her two years of Nationwide racing, Patrick was nothing more than a “mid packer”, at best.  She won zero poles, she won zero races, and she turned a fair number of race cars into a crumpled pile of sheet metal for JR Motorsports during her tenure.

This year at Stewart-Haas Racing her only bright spot was winning a pole at the Daytona 500.  That is hardly worthy of all the hype that was showered down on her from the media, however.  After all “Mr Five-Time”, Jimmie Johnson, was quoted as saying that even a monkey could win the pole at Daytona!  All you have to do is keep your right foot flat on the accelerator, and turn left!  From that pole at Daytona, Patrick has not done anything noteworthy since!

Patrick is currently holding down the 27th place in the Sprint Cup standings, twelve spots lower than her terminated teammate, Ryan Newman.  Patrick has not won a Sprint Cup race this year, unlike Newman. Although she does have one pole to her credit this year, the Daytona 500.

Having discussed both Montoya and Newman’s termination, due to, what must be perceived, a lack of performance .  That obviously begs the inevitable following question.

How long will it take for and/or Stewart-Haas Racing to finally loose confidence in Danica Patrick’s ability to perform at the high level that SHR, and most all of the other team owners and sponsors, require to get a return on their driver investment?

Patrick has been two years in the Nationwide Series plus a part-time Sprint Cup season, and the results was nada, zilch, zero!  She has now run 2/3 of a year in the Sprint Cup Series full-time with only a fluke pole award at Daytona, and nothing more to show for her efforts!  Surely both SHR and should be realizing, by now, that the return on their investment is not appreciating much at all!

My suspicions are that whenever Patrick’s contract runs out with SHR, she will be looking for new employment!  After all, NASCAR is a performance driven sport. Up to this point in time, Danica has not even remotely lived up to all the hype and expectations that the media has put forth!  She is at best best just a journeyman race car driver, no more and mo less!  The bottom line is that the return on the sponsor’s investment in Danica Patrick has got be less than what both Newman and JPM gave their sponsors!  Their overall net results, and finishes, far outshines what Danica Patrick has been able to achieve so far this season.

Having said all that, just when is Danica’s job going to be in jeopardy?  I’m just saying…………..


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