By admin | February 3, 2010
By Richard Allen
Thatâ€™s right sports fans. This weekend promises one of the biggest events of the year in all of sports. Yes, I am talking about the debut of Danica Patrick driving a stock car.
Well, you might have thought I was going to mention that other sporting event taking place just a little south of Daytona Beach, Florida. To hear many in the racing media tell it one might think the arrival of Ms. Patrick in the world of stock car racing is as big as the Super Bowl.
Not since Kyle Petty ran his first ever race in 1979 has an ARCA event in Daytona been so heavily publicized. Television crews and print media members were dispatched earlier this winter to the â€˜World Center of Speedâ€™ to report on ARCA preseason testing. Yes, thatâ€™s right, ARCA preseason testing!
Many newcomers to the sport, or even longtime patrons for that matter, may not even know what ARCA is. The acronym stands for Automobile Racing Club of America. It is a mostly Midwestern based sanctioning body that runs a few companion races with NASCAR shows throughout the year.
The series rarely garners very much attention, especially like that it has recently gotten or is about to get. JR Motorsports, the NASCAR Nationwide Series team owned as a joint venture between Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Hendrick Motorsports, will field cars for Danica to race in NASCARâ€™s second series for twelve events in 2010.
In order for new drivers in NASCAR to be permitted to race at the fast Daytona International Speedway they must first prove themselves in some other way. Thus, Ms. Patrick will attempt an ARCA run to gain approval for her proposed Nationwide start the following week.
Over the course of her Indycar career Danica has won one race, a fuel mileage saving run in Japan back in 2008. Aside from her racing career, she is well known for her television commercials and magazine cover photos. She brings a short list of racing credentials and excessive marketability to stock car racing.
With all that said, one has to wonder just what will happen if she actually wins something? With all the attention she is already commanding without having accomplished anything other than signing a contract in NASCAR the publicity will be off the charts if she were to be posing for pictures in victory lane at some point this season.
My guess is that should she actually win a race fans will be left wondering if there are any other drivers out there. However, my prediction is that all of this speculation is for nothing. Her best chance to win will come this weekend in the ARCA race where her Hendrick car may simply overpower the rest of the field. I do not foresee her winning a Nationwide event. But one thing is for sure, Danica Patrick will be getting plenty of attention this weekend both in Daytona and in her Super Bowl television commercials.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly columns appear in The Mountain Press and The Knoxville Journal.
Topics: Articles |