SBD/Issue 244/Leagues & Governing Bodies

Danica Reportedly Will Drive In Nationwide, Truck Series In '10

Patrick Will Continue To Run Full
IndyCar Schedule Next Year
Driver Danica Patrick "will 'all but certainly' be in NASCAR in 2010, but won't give up Indy car racing and will limit next year's activity" to the Nationwide and Camping World Truck series, according to a source cited by Ed Hinton of ESPN.com. The source said that Stewart-Haas Racing co-Owner & driver Tony Stewart is "the 'star candidate' to be her partner and mentor in NASCAR," and that because Stewart-Haas "has neither Nationwide cars nor trucks in its stable, a third partner will be brought into the mix." Stewart: "I can pretty much guarantee at some point she's going to be over here." Hinton noted the plan is for Patrick to "run a significant number of Nationwide races, with additional seat time in Trucks and ARCA cars." The source said that there is "no way Patrick would a) plunge immediately into the Cup level next year, or b) give up Indy car racing until she's sure she can do well in NASCAR" (ESPN.com, 9/6). NASCAR VP/Corporate Communications Jim Hunter said of Patrick, "There is no doubt she would be a welcome addition to NASCAR. She has a certain celebrity status and a charisma that we haven't seen in a while" (ESPN.com, 9/6). FOXSPORTS.com's Lee Spencer cited sources as insisting that Patrick's "primary concentration will remain on driving" in IndyCar for Andretti Green Racing (AGR) (FOXSPORTS.com, 9/8). Patrick Sunday posted on her Twitter feed, "The rumors are flying about nascar!....I did talk to Tony and he is a great guy. We are looking at nascar as I have always said" (TWITTER.com, 9/6).

EASING IN: In Indianapolis, Curt Cavin wrote Patrick "has to get her feet wet before she takes the full plunge, so this makes sense." But he added, "As I've said, I think it's an uphill battle at best. She does not have experience with this type of car and while her NASCAR team owner figures to be patient with her development, the public won't. They'll expect her to be competitive and the spotlight will be intense" (INDYSTAR.com, 9/8). ESPN's Rusty Wallace said, "She needs a sponsor that’s going to stick with her through thick and thin for three solid years." ESPN’s Ray Evernham added, “It would be great for our sport and I think that she can make it” (“NASCAR Countdown,” ESPN, 9/6). The AP's Jenna Fryer wrote, "What is clear is that a fast-track move to the premier Sprint Cup Series is not in Patrick's best interest. There doesn't seem to be a top-tier team with the financing to give her that opportunity. And even if it were feasible, Dario Franchitti's failed 2008 venture into stock cars showed most team owners that drivers need to ease into such a transition" (AP, 9/8). However, ESPN's Ricky Craven said, "She’s very good, and I think a lot of people are underestimating her a little bit. I think that she has the ability to adapt maybe better than some of the drivers we’ve seen from IRL” (“ESPN First Take,” ESPN2, 9/7).

BEGINNING OF THE END: SI.com's Lars Anderson predicted Patrick would sign a three-year deal with AGR that allows her to "compete in a handful of Nationwide and Truck series races when the Indy cars aren't running." Anderson: "After that, in 2013, she'll be in NASCAR fulltime" (SI.com, 9/7). Meanwhile, in Indianapolis, Bob Kravitz writes under the header, "IRL Can't Survive A Danica Defection." Patrick's "eventual defection to NASCAR won't kill the sport, but it will deal the open-wheel types a painful and possibly even fatal blow." IRL officials "don't want to hear this, but without Patrick -- their one and only marquee talent and celebrity -- IndyCar is as insignificant as celebrity billiards." Patrick's departure "will put the brakes on all the momentum the series gained when unification with Champ Car finally happened," as without Patrick, the IRL "has nothing, and nobody, to sell" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 9/9).

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