SBD/Issue 102/Leagues & Governing Bodies

Danica Mania In High Gear As She Prepares For Nationwide Race

Patrick Will Compete In Her First Nationwide
Series Race Saturday At Daytona Int'l Speedway
The "hype machine will go to full power" as Danica Patrick "prepares to make her NASCAR debut" on Saturday, according to Godwin Kelly of the Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL. Patrick will drive the No. 7 Chevy for JR Motorsports in Saturday's DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona Int'l Speedway (DIS), the season-opening race for the Nationwide Series. Patrick "may have got a slight nudge" to participate in the race from Go Daddy Founder & CEO Bob Parsons, whose company is a primary sponsor of Patrick and is funding JR Motorsports efforts. Kelly notes Patrick is "riding an incredible media-marketing wave, which started when she arrived" in Daytona to race in Saturday's ARCA Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 and "continued with two Super Bowl commercials Sunday." DIS President Robin Braig said Patrick has a "rock-star quality." He said having her race Saturday is "fabulous news across the board," and it is a "win-win for everyone" (Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL, 2/9). Braig: "You can hear the collective applause from our ticket office. Our phone lines lit up this morning. This is fabulous news for us in a tough economic time." Braig "expects ticket sales to jump at least" 10%, and he has "already ordered Danica T-shirts and other merchandise." Braig: "It's huge. A real windfall for us." ESPN.com's David Newton noted it is a "win-win." Patrick wins because she "gains experience around some of the best drivers in the world," and Go Daddy, NASCAR and DIS "will win because of the exposure." Even ESPN "will win because there will be more than the normal number of viewers for the broadcast on ESPN2" (ESPN.com, 2/8).

CENTER OF ATTENTION: In N.Y., Richard Huff wrote Patrick racing Saturday is "terrible news for everyone else in the race." If Speed's telecast of Saturday's ARCA race is "any indication, the other drivers, win or lose, will be an afterthought." Speed's coverage was "so targeted on Patrick, that the broadcasters occasionally had to remind themselves there actually were other drivers in the race." Huff: "Given the way the ARCA race revolved around Patrick, Parsons made a wise investment in sponsoring Patrick, provided, of course, fans don't get sick of the ongoing fawning in the TV booth to the detriment of other drivers" (NYDAILYNEWS.com, 2/8). In Philadelphia, Bob Ford writes, "The Danica phenomenon is just another lowest-common-denominator example of American marketing. Women can get just as much credit as a man, but, uh, only if they're good looking" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 2/9).

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