How’s this for negative reporting? I’m only quoting the negative stuff. In this case, I think it is fitting to jump right into the details …
Patrick will indeed contest the full NASCAR Nationwide Series with Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s JR Motorsports team next season, as well as a limited run of Sprint Cup Series races with Tony Stewart’s Stewart-Haas Racing team. She will also end her long association with Andretti Autosport in IndyCars. However, the specifics of her Cup schedule remain to be ironed out, as does the possibility of her continuing to race at the Indianapolis 500.
I have always found it interesting that Danica is such a polarizing figure. I think this is a blow to IndyCar. Say what you want about drivers with more talent not getting the exposure due to the Danica marketing machine (and dare I say hype), but in this day and age, the financial side of motor racing is critical.
Sponsors (Danica’s or any other for that matter) know that if Danica runs OK, they are going to get exposure because the fans love Danica. Where does IndyCar turn now when a would be almost convinced sponsor decides not to throw in a few hundred thousand dollars because there is not an extra exposure boots without Danica?
Dustin Long of ‘INSIDE NASCAR’ (SI.com) has three comments I would like to tackle.
[Brad Keselowski (Twitter handle @keselowski)] Then he wrote on Twitter: “All that said, her assent up the ladder of the sport thru various branding ‘techniques’ (swimsuit ads etc) only serves to undermine the … future credibility of female races who wish to make it based on skill, mental toughness and a never give up attitude. That to me is wrong. Essentially, she has opened a pandoras (sic) box for all female racers. If she doesn’t succeed, no female will get the chance for years to come.”
100% true, and I am glad Keselowski brings up this point. It is kind of hard for Danica to have it both ways. In a male dominated market, sex of course sells. Just look no further than the SI Swimsuit issue. Anyone that doubts Danica’s ability points right away to some of her adverts.
I have mixed emotions on this one. On the one hand, Danica should capitalize on her brand, and if trying to be sexy works for her, then go for it. On the other hand, I think her approach prevents whatever natural ability she has to speak for itself.
Kyle Petty — He’s been among the most vocal critics of Patrick’s move. If she fails, Petty’s stock could rise in the broadcasting arena, further enhancing his image as one who is not afraid to hold back on what he thinks. If Patrick succeeds, there will be those who will want to tell Petty, “I told you so.” Then again, Petty is telling it as he sees it and isn’t that what an analyst is supposed to do?
Female drivers — Patrick is scheduled to make her Cup debut next year, a decade after the last female, Shawna Robinson, competed in the Cup series. Patrick will be only the second female to compete in Cup in more than 20 years. If she succeeds, she could create opportunities for other female drivers working their way through the ranks. If she fails, the path to Cup could become much more difficult for other female drivers unless they truly stand out on the track.
Kyle Petty obviously has years and years of experience as a back-marker, so you have to take his ability to call out similar talent into consideration. You also have to question his ability to judge said talent.
Other female drivers will have a tough sell if Danica fails; see swimsuit and sex symbol type ads. And I would be remiss if I did not point out that Danica is not all that hot, but I guess some guys are desperate for T&A.