Patrick Wants To Focus On NASCAR; Will Race In Coca-Cola 600, Not Indy 500
Danica Patrick yesterday announced she will skip the Indianapolis 500 and run the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 over Memorial Day weekend. The decision was made largely because she wants to focus on NASCAR this season. However, Patrick, who made the announcement during yesterday's NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway, said she and her management team were not able to put together a business deal that worked for her. Patrick: "I hope to do (the Indy 500) in the future and maybe it will be a double." Patrick will follow in the footsteps of Janet Guthrie, who became the first woman to race the 600 in '76. Stewart-Haas Racing Exec VP Brett Frood said that it was important to the team and Patrick's primary sponsor, GoDaddy, that she run the 600. Frood, "Sponsor-wise, with it being Memorial Day, and because of track time, the 600 was an important race for us" (Tripp Mickle, SportsBusiness Journal). Patrick said, "It's just something that didn't work out, as far as the business-side of things" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 1/24). USA TODAY's Seth Livingstone notes when Patrick announced her move to NASCAR in August, she said that a "return to Indy would have to be with Andretti Autosport, her Izod IndyCar Series team for the last five seasons." But she could "be back at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in a Cup car July 27 for the Brickyard 400" (USA TODAY, 1/24).
CENTER OF ATTENTION: ESPN.com's Terry Blount wrote under the header, "Danica Patrick Steals The Spotlight." In the first interview session of the '12 NASCAR media tour, Patrick "managed to upstage her new boss, Tony Stewart, at least as far as attention goes from more than 200-plus reporters attending Day 1 of the tour." Blount: "Welcome to Danica's world as a full-time driver in NASCAR. ... Get used to it. It's all part of Danica-mania, which isn't new for her, but the scale of attention will continue to increase if she has success in NASCAR" (ESPN.com, 1/23). In Charlotte, Tom Sorensen writes Patrick attracted as "many reporters and photographers ... as defending Cup champions Tony Stewart." This is "not a media concoction; fans will follow, too." The appeal "is obvious." Some men who "care little about racing will follow her because of her appearance and because she will again star in an unprecedented sixth straight Go Daddy -- her sponsor -- Super Bowl commercial." Some women who "care little about racing will follow her because she's one of them" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 1/24).
KISS ME, I'M IRISH: YAHOO SPORTS' Jay Busbee noted Patrick over the weekend "unveiled a special shamrock-themed GoDaddy No. 7 Chevy Impala that she'll run in the St. Patrick's Day Nationwide race at Bristol on March 17" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 1/23).