Sunday, May 3, 2009

Danica Patrick: Racing in the IndyCar Series for the rest of 2009 and NASCAR in 2010?

As not only a NASCAR fan, but a Motorsports fan, I watch the IRL IndyCar Series as well and have been watching Danica Patrick since her days driving in the Toyota Atlantic Series and then coming up into the now Indycar Series, running for Rahal/Letterman before joining Andretti-Green Racing a few years ago.

In that time, the subject of Danica Patrick leaving the IndyCar Series and moving to NASCAR has made headlines several times including her visiting I believe it was Chicagoland Speedway and talking to Roush Racing some time ago.

This past Friday, Boost Mobile and Motorola announced that they have Joins Forces as Title Sponsor of Racing Star Danica Patrick’s Andretti Green Racing IndyCar Series for the Indianapolis 500 and the rest of 2009, so we know where Danica Patrick will be driving for the rest of the 2009 season, however with her contract with Andretti-Green Racing up at the end of this season, once again, the famous talk of Danica Patrick moving to NASCAR has come to the surface and fans are left asking why!

Over the last few years in NASCAR, several open wheel drivers have not only expressed interested, but have made the just to NASCAR.

Let’s talk about the open wheel invasion for a moment or the struggles as I put it at the end of last season. What happened to the Open-Wheel Invasion, as of May 3rd, 2009, Juan Montoya is driving the #42, he has a road course victory a few years ago and is surviving races, Sam Hornish Jr. is driving the #77 for Penske Racing and as for now while he has had a few good runs, 2009 is a his make or break year, if he doesn’t show much, IndyCar Series fans may see him back in the IndyCar Series.

However when it comes to Dario Franchitti, he made the jump to NASCAR at the end of 2007 to run in the now the Nationwide Series at Memphis. In 2008, Dario made the climb to the Cup Series starting at the Daytona 500, but his half season in both series would be short lived as he was out due to injury after a weird wreck at Talladega in the Nationwide Series. Finally, Dario’s last race would be the New Hampshire 300 in June that I attended in person. Following New Hampshire, Ganassi Racing announced that they were shutting down the #40 due to lack of sponsorship and Dario would complete in the Nationwides Series for a few more races, but decided to move back to the IndyCar Series in 2009.

Dario would win his first race back, the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Other open wheel drivers to make the jump including Jacques Villeneuve, that never got going, but for Patrick Carpentier, he qualified for a number races including taking pole at New Hampshire in June before being removed at GEM, and Paul Tracy drove a few races in the Nationwide Series, but just never was, so basically, only Juan Montoya has really showed some thing and is still here.

So what about Danica Patrick making the jump to NASCAR? Simply put, not going to happen for two reasons:

First, once she made the jump to the Cup Series after at least a season in the Nationwide Series or the Truck Series, compared to the IndyCar Series racecar that weighs in around 1,575ibs (don’t quote me on the weight) with races that mostly are 2 hours long, I don’t think she could handle the COT racecar that weighs 3450lbs for (and no, it’s not because she is a women neither, NASCAR has a few drivers in the Cup Series that can’t handle the cars either) the long 3-4 hours races, these NASCAR races are like in some ways endorse races with this new COT racecar, most drivers, if not every driver at the end of these races looked like they are cooked.

Believe it or not, she is marketable in NASCAR, so I will say that even in this tough economy, I do think she could get a sponsorship for a little while, but just like most drivers (there are those few) in NASCAR, she will have very little time to show what she can.

Second, it is just not going to happen, why would Danica Patrick want to leave the IRL IndyCar Series without being the best in the series. What I mean by best is, winning multi-races and the becoming the IRL IndyCar Series Championship, she drives herself to be the best, so it is only naturally that she succeed in one series before moving on, it’s like Kyle Busch leaving NASCAR before he wins a championship, just not going to happen, but at the same time, Formula 1 could come a calling.

In the same category, Dario Franchitti left the IndyCar Series only after he was the best in the series winning several races and a championship. Danica is in a series that she wants to the best in, why would she leave period.

In thinking about this, I basically feel that the talk weighs nothing and it is put out there about her making the jump to NASCAR just helps her land a new deal in the IndyCar Series with a race team, I have nothing against Danica Patrick moving to NASCAR, but I just don’t see it in the foreseeable future.

I will say that if she wants a new challenge, she should try driving in the American Le Mans Series first, those are heavy cars and they have both short and long races, that would be a better fit than NASCAR.

Boost Mobile and Motorola announced that they have Joins Forces as Title Sponsor of Racing Star Danica Patrick’s Andretti Green Racing IndyCar Series for the Indianapolis 500 and the rest of 2009, I don't know why, but I like the photo, there is nothing like a racecar vs. a commericial plane, its just a cool, speed sight. (Photo credit: AP via LEADER ENTERPRISES, INC press release I received by email.)