By admin | December 15, 2009
By Richard Allen
Ever since it was announced last week that Danica Patrick would drive on a limited basis for JR Motorsports in 2010 there have been some interesting headlines written on the subject. “Will Danica save NASCAR?” and “Danica could provide the shot in the arm NASCAR needs” have been at the top of columns regarding the female IndyCar driver’s entry into stock cars.
Well, I can save everyone the suspense and address both of the above mentioned headlines and any others similar to them. No, she will not save NASCAR and any shot in the arm she provides the sport will be one that is short-lived.
My opinion has nothing to do with the fact that NASCAR’s newest ‘superstar’ is female nor is it any sort of prediction as to whether she will do well or not.
It does not matter whether Ms. Patrick wins every race she enters or whether she never even comes close to winning one race. Those who believe this type of high profile but lack of substance move will save NASCAR are completely missing the point. What will save NASCAR and what will provide the shot in the arm NASCAR needs is significantly improved on-track competition. No one person, no matter who he or she happens to be, can provide that.
Danica may well succeed or she may well fail. In the grand scheme of things neither outcome matters. What her arrival in the sport will do is provide a distraction from some of the real issues that face modern day stock car racing. The folks in Daytona Beach who run this sport must be relishing in the sudden lack of concern over such issues as the much maligned Chase for the Championship, the soulless Car of Tomorrow, the poor attendance at this year’s races and the lackluster television ratings that have plagued the sport for the past couple of seasons.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with Danica coming to NASCAR, but her announcement has diverted attention from where it should be this off season.
So, what will happen after the green flag drops on another season in 2010? Sure, there will be some initial interest in what she does in her maiden voyage into the world of big heavy stock cars. But after the novelty wears off and people come to realize that the product is no better than it was last year will they continue to watch just because a high profile female driver happens to be on the track?
Once again the higher-ups who run the sport and their mainstream media apologists who try to put a positive spin on even the worst of situations have proven that they do not get it. Instead of patting each other on the back for creating another short-lived media frenzy they should be hard at work behind closed doors addressing the real issues in this sport.
After all, there is only so long they can continue to string along these big splash announcements until they finally come to the realization that nobody is listening anymore.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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