IndyCar Officials Wondering Whether Danica's Departure Will Have Impact On Series
Danica Patrick has one race left in the Izod IndyCar Series before joining NASCAR full time in '12, and IndyCar officials and drivers "are wondering about her impact on a series stressed by low ratings and ticket sales,” according to Jeff Olson of USA TODAY. Patrick said that her departure “won’t hurt IndyCar nor will her move to NASCAR dramatically boost its ratings or attendance.” Patrick: “The IndyCar Series is not just me running around. If it was, it would be extremely boring.” IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard acknowledged that Patrick’s presence "was able to attract a demographic apart from traditionalists, but says the series will survive without the driver who has one win in 115 races.” Olson notes Patrick's departure “might help some of IndyCar’s most successful drivers gain recognition.” Driver Dario Franchitti: “There was always that kind of disconnect having Danica in the series. We had a bit of the same thing that NASCAR has with Dale Earnhardt Jr., in that the most popular driver in the series doesn’t necessarily win races.” The series has “long been criticized for having a disjointed and incoherent marketing plan, relying on Patrick’s fame to hold up sales and ratings.” But driver Helio Castroneves disagreed, saying that “the marketing side of IndyCar is well planned, and we have enough drivers with personality to attract people” (USA TODAY, 10/6).