Sunday, February 14, 2010

Did the millions who watched Danica Patrick in both the Nationwide and ARCA series see a race worth watching?


A picture is worth a thousand words, Danica Patrick and the media, need I say more? Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images for NASCAR via NASCARmedia

In and among all of the NASCAR and Danica Patrick stories flying around the internet right now, I just happen to notice an article over at “From the Marbles – NASCAR Blog” the commented on SPEED’s announcement from last Tuesday that 2.4 million viewers tuned into last Saturday's ARCA race. According to SPEED, that’s up 87 percent from the 2009, wow really, an 87 percent jump and they think it’s due to Danica Patrick, I think it was more like 60 percent personally and other drivers could have had a factory in it too.

The idea that almost 2 million viewers tuned into to the ARCA race just see Danica Patrick in her stock car debut escapes me, but the question then is, did they see a good race? To add even more fuel to the fire, I don’t know what Saturday’s Nationwide Series race on ESPN2 had for ratings, but did NASCAR fans and racing fans in general see a good race? And how did Danica do?

I’ve been watching Danica Patrick for years now ever since her days driving in the Atlantic Series before she came up into the IRL IndyCar Series and she is interesting to watch. But even the concept of her racing stocks cars one day back at that time never really crossed my mind.

But here we are and it all started with last Saturday’s ARCA race at Daytona. I believe that Danica Patrick handled herself very well all throughout the entire race. It was even interesting to see her spun through the grass and with Tony Jr.’s help (her crew chief) get the car back under control and not hit the wall. From there she raced back up into the top 5, before finishing 6th.

But the ARCA race itself on SPEED wasn’t all that entertaining. SPEED needed to stop following Danica Patrick just about ever moment and show the entire race, from the pit stops, the battling on the racetrack and go through the field regularly highlighting the ARCA drivers. For the ARCA series, this race is huge, it’s there Superbowl too and SPEED should have done better showcasing those drivers too.

However it’s not all SPEED though as the race was boring at least upfront for the lead as nobody could really caught the leader as Bobby Gerhart won a record sixth time at Daytona International Speedway.

Drive4COPD 300 – NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Daytona

The Drive4COPD 300 was a surprise race, meaning in that that the race was entertaining to watch. In watching the 300 yesterday, Danica Patrick was once again the main focal point of the NASCAR media and that’s really not a big surprise, but it was to Kyle Busch who had a bone to pick with the media when he called the coverage “horrible”, because most of it was on Danica. He has nothing against Danica, but he wanted to see coverage on the rest of the field, the Nationwide regulars and of course him, the 2009 NASCAR Nationwide Series Championship.

But I have to say that once the green flag flow, the ESPN2 coverage really reminded me of you guessed it, SPEED’s ARCA coverage in that it was once again all about Danica Patrick just about every minute. I will admit that Danica has talent and she can drive. She did a good job in the 67 laps that you had racing. She was just getting into it and getting comfortable behind the wheel, but on lap 68 she was collected in a front straightaway wreck and her day was done.

At that point, I was thinking, boy ESPN really needs to do a through the field more often featuring Nationwide Series only drivers, battles on the racetrack and pit stops. They need to find an equal balance in coverage and less reporters during the broadcast. I hope this isn’t going to be like 2009 where they mostly covered Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards, but this time with Danica Patrick to the mix.

However after the lap 68 wreck which collected Danica Patrick and she left the garage area, the coverage and the race took a big change and became entertaining and somewhat well covered. The race would finally came into its own, these drivers really can mix it up everywhere, but how do you wreck on the backstraightaway and yet they did.

And unfortunately on lap 91, Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski made contact which included Dale Earnhardt Jr. (who was driving the #88 in one of two races I believe due to sponsorship commitments) that sent Junior flipped wildly into the outside wall and then back into the grass, what a spectacular wreck and yet while he was ok, it cost him over $600,000, damn what a bill.

By the end of the race, it was all Tony Stewart as he won his second straight Nationwide Series race at Daytona, but this time in a Kevin Harvick Inc. car over Carl Edwards and Kevin Harvick. But wouldn’t you know it, after the race it was Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch having words on the backstraightaway after a turn 3-4 wreck whick Kyle just lost it and collected Brad.

I just have to wonder, what is next week at California Speedway going to be like, any guess as to what we are going to see? I’m going to leave that to you, my readers and just say thank you for reading my article on RaceDriven.com and don’t forget to visit my second blog ThinkingBrian.com.