Saturday, February 19, 2011

Predictions: Danica Patrick and Travis Pastrana racing in NASCAR in 2011?

Welcome readers, as the 2011 NASCAR Nationwide Series season is on the horizon, today in part-three of my prediction series, I’m discussing two well known Motorsports drivers that have decided to embark on NASCAR in the next stage of their racing careers, namely Danica Patrick and Travis Pastrana.

1. Danica Patrick. Now I realize and understand that there are a lot of NASCAR fans that don’t care for Danica Patrick being in NASCAR and driving for a well known ride namely at JR Motorsports. Nor care for her switching between the IRL IndyCar Series and NASCAR like she is.

But for me, a motorsports fan that has watched Danica Patrick since her day’s in the Toyota Atlantics Series and while I do believe that Patrick should be picking a series and run full-time in it whether it’s the IRL IndyCar Series or NASCAR so she can succeed in it, she did learn a few thing in 2010 as she had a few good runs and made headlines everywhere she went in NASCAR especially when she taught a driver at Phoenix that art of a simple payback pass.

But now it’s all about 2011 and where will see go from here? In my predictions, I’m going to go against a lot of people in saying that 2011 will be a make it or break it year for Danica Patrick. Patrick now must prove to herself, JR Motorsports, Rick Hendrick and the sponsors that she can be successful in NASCAR in the long run. Otherwise she is on her way back to the IRL IndyCar Series or off to another series.

However I believe that after her learning a few things in 2010, Danica Patrick will continue to move forward in NASCAR and start finishing in the top 10 in a few NASCAR Nationwide Series races. But in my opinion in order for Patrick to really be successful, especially with her expectations and show everyone she can win in NASCAR, she will need to leave the IRL IndyCar Series and commit full-time in NASCAR with no distractions.

But the problem there is her contract in the IndyCar Series is a three-year deal, not a two-year deal like with JR Motorsports and until we see that commitment, I don’t see the point of anything beyond 2011 plain and simple.

I hate to put it so blunt, but it’s the truth. Making the jump between the IndyCars and NASCAR stockcars isn’t one that a driver should do at all. But if she were to make the jump to NASCAR, I see talent and possible success in the Nationwide Series, but that’s as high as I see it right now.

Travis Pastrana: Making any predictions on Travis Pastrana is almost impossible for me as I only have seen him race in one race so far in his stockcar career and that was back in January at Irwindale Speedway in California (yes I know they changed the title of the track, but I don’t care), nonetheless he did show he can race a stockcar as he battled back in that race from a lap down to finish 6th and he wasn’t afraid to mix it up.
Another thing I like about Travis Pastrana is he is starting his own race team called Pastrana-Waltrip Racing and to me that shows commitment. But his first race isn’t until late July which makes it very interesting from here on out. Nevertheless, he is racing and I will be looking forward to seeing what he can do in his own equipment with MWR.

But what about Danica Patrick vs. Travis Pastrana: “who will be the bigger name for NASCAR?” As the fans, media, drivers, teams, NASCAR and more have seen, where ever Danica Patrick goes in her 12-13 scheduled races a year in the Nationwide Series, she gets a ton of press hanging on her every word and movement. Of course that attention has gotten to some of NASCAR’s drivers including Kyle Busch at one point making a statement.

However I have to say that as big as Danica Patrick has become in the media in her short NASCAR career, if Travis Pastrana can succeed in a few races in 2011 once he starts up, I see Travis Pastrana being a bigger name in NASCAR than Danica Patrick is right now. Pastrana will also bring a lot more in fans to the table as well for NASCAR from his Rally car career, Motocross and Supercross career, not to mention X Games and daredevil career especially jumping a Subaru over a lake. I also believe that Pastrana has an upper hand thanks to rally car experience. Driving a car at high speed is very interesting no matter what series you’re in especially with car control. But until he straps in later this year in July, nobody knows.

Any thoughts?