Why Danica’s Success, Or Lack Thereof, Might Not Matter

There have been several times over the last two months that I’ve started writing a post about Danica Patrick and her prospects for the future. Once, I even wrote a full post before deleting it after a conversation with Journo on it’s content. I, like many, believe she is no where near ready to jump into a full Cup schedule. And I find it extremely difficult to believe she will ever have what I would consider a successful career. But the more I’ve thought about her situation, the more I wonder if maybe it doesn’t matter.

Toward the end of the season, in both the Nationwide and Cup cars, I thought Danica showed some measure of improvement. She stopped wrecking Dale Jr’s NNS cars, and her Cup results showed us there is some hope that she could be more than just a back marker next season. Whether it was because of the crew chief changes, or actual personal progress, at least she showed us something. Even so, I don’t believe Danica will ever be a real contender for wins and championships.

I believe there is this feeling out there that at some point Danica will break out and that all the hype surrounding her all of these years will somehow be justified. The mainstream media is just waiting for the moment when they can celebrate her achievements. This is a fool’s errand.

This constant anticipation of success is very similar to what we saw in her IndyCar days. Each new season that approached was trumpeted as “Danica’s year.” But she was never able to live up to the expectations. Even while her teammates were winning races, she never managed more than average results. Her foray into NASCAR won’t be any different.

Why it doesn’t matter though, is because at the end of the day, Danica is good for NASCAR. As long as she can put together respectable runs, I don’t believe her marketability and attractiveness to sponsors will dwindle. The media will continue trumpeting her because she is an oddity, and when she does have better than mediocre performances, NASCAR will gain even more exposure.

In a perfect world, I would much rather that when the green flag flew on Sundays, we were witnessing the top 43 drivers the sport could find. The world isn’t perfect though, and in this universe I would much rather have the most funded cars possible. It means a healthier sport and more families supported by racing jobs. And if it means watching Danica never run better than 15th each week, I’m okay with that.

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16 Responses to “Why Danica’s Success, Or Lack Thereof, Might Not Matter”

  1. kaoscapt says:

    Look at it this way. At least with Danica there is some talent, charisma and driving ability. At least it’s not Milka (the chicane) Duno…

  2. Ron Frankl says:

    Great piece, and I couldn’t agree more.

    And I’d rather see Danica finish in 15th place every week than see one of NASCAR’s subsidized drivers, who really has no place on the track, wrecking week after week and endangering the rest of the field. Those guys are a much bigger problem.

  3. fireball doowah says:

    Fans choose favorite drivers for a variety of reasons, and it’s not always based on on-track success. Here is one of countless examples:

    My introduction to NASCAR was when I lived in Virginia. Rick Mast had a very large following, yet he never won a cup race. So, if wins alone define success, he was unsuccessful, however, he ran up front on occasion, would snag the occasional pole, and was a good spokesperson for Remington Arms, Skoal, a number of other sponsors, and he represented Virginia well.

    Yes she is overhyped, but so are several drivers. IF she is keeping SHR sponsors happy, and she’s putting asses in the seats, then good on her. Her one huge weakness is that she needs to learn to not wreck herself when she retaliates!

  4. Steven says:

    I think that Danica’s 15th place results were deceptive regarding her lack of competitiveness. Besides that, even a blind squirrel finds an acorn now and then and the media, particularly ESPN exploits that to the unwashed masses.To the racing purists she is a joke. To the sponsors she is a brand.

  5. Zieke says:

    You are absolutely correct about her. She is good looking and is using her assets to profit in racing. Heck, she only won 1 Indycar race, and she was fairly good at it. When it comes to Cup cars she is in way over her head, but who cares. Fans are watching. No matter because these are the hardest cars (in my opinion) in the world to master, and Danica shouldn’t feel too bad as there are alot of drivers who have been in the sport a long time who can’t do it either.

  6. Dennis M says:

    At least she is not buying a ride. In a lot of series there are drivers who only have a seat due to the sponsor money they bring with them. She got where she is based on talent so she earned the seat.

  7. Neon says:

    I hate to bring it up T.C., but we’re lucky to witness a mere (10) of the world’s best stock car drivers each week. Ok, I’ll go (12). The rest are field and money fillers. Sadly, so much true “driving” talent will go unnoticed and unfunded. Just imagine a Cup race (be it Daytona, Martinsville, Darlington or Watkins Glen) where “all” (43) drivers would be “the” best in the world piloting (43) stock cars “all” with a competitive chance for an “earned” victory. As Bill Engvall would say, “THAT would be awesome!”.
    Ok I’ll toss this question out there to all: Do any of you ever see Stewart (or Newman) sacrificing a potential regular season win to run interference for a Danica mega-hype victory, thus virtually guaranteeing a $$$$$ team payout???

  8. Steve says:

    In Sprint Cup there is one female competing against 42 males, yet some people feel compelled to pick on the one female. As a female racer in a male dominated sport, she holds most if not all of the records in Indycar, Nationwide, and Sprint Cup. I am a racing purist… she is no joke. She continues to improve. What I see as ironic is the haters of the lone female (competing against 42 males) continually Google her name so they can read about her. How sick is that?

  9. Mazakk says:

    In the 1950′s there was a driver named Tim Flock who raced a few times with a monkey in his stock car. Now we have a monkey DRIVING a stock car. Danica will be promoted to a nauseating level next year by ESPN, Fox, etc etc when she finishes 32nd every week.

  10. Doug in CA says:

    Welcome back!

    I tend to agree that she will have a solid, if unspectacular, career in NASCAR. She might win a race or two at some point if she sticks around for 10 years. Has she gotten where she is by exploiting her looks? Sure. So have a lot of drivers. She deserves a ride just as much (or as little) as any other number of drivers.

    Will she be overhyped? For a while, but I noticed last year that the spotlight on her in Nationwide dimmed considerably by the end of the year – her presence was no longer a novelty, and that will happen next year in Cup as well.

    Finally, as I have often said, what is fascinating about her is the journey. She has been a terrific interview and has been refreshingly candid about her progress. One time she said she hoped to contend for wins, but backed off that really fast. It’s refreshing to me to hear of a driver who isn’t touting her championship potential. I remember when her first Cup races were announced when she said, with a sarcastic grin, something like “Oh yeah, and I’ll be out there five laps down. Won’t THAT be fun!”

  11. Neon says:

    I’ll give Danica credit for sticking with it. However, with the amount of resources thrown her way, there should be much more positive results to show for the investment. Gender has nothing to do with ones ability to drive a stock car. You either have it, or you don’t. Make room for the Kyle Larsons, Trevor Baynes, Joey Coulters, Johanna Longs, etc at the NW then Cup level.

  12. Eric says:

    I actually sense a little sarcasm in this post: “Why it doesn’t matter though, is because at the end of the day, Danica is good for NASCAR.”.

    Yes TC, this is what NASCAR has become. An under performer, over hyped racer gets more interview time than the second place finisher (sometimes the winner if she has a decent finish).

    This is sad, how could NASCAR have evolved into this? I disagree with TC on one point though; I do believe shes ready for Cup, I just dont think shes ready for a top ride, and I dont think shes ready for all the publicity she gets.

    It did seem that as the 2012 season progressed, the media attention tapered off.

    NASCAR is at a turning point, they are getting a lot of attention for being a fabricated, almost giving the viewer a Monster Truck, or Reality Show feeling. In my opinion, they need to fix that. Giving an under performer as much media attention as the top drivers is probably not the best idea.

  13. dwiltone says:

    I am very confused that now the 2012 season is over that NIS is finally running again.

  14. dwiltone says:

    Perhaps I missed something? Please someone ridicule me. I can take it. I have missed this site a bit.

  15. dwiltone says:

    forgot to check the two boxes below.

  16. Woogeroo says:

    Well and fairly written.

    I fully concur.

    If she proves us all wrong, well, good for her.

    :D

    I’m not holding my breath tho’.

    -W

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