By admin | February 10, 2010
By Richard Allen
If you were shocked or surprised when it was announced that Danica Patrick was indeed going to race in the Nationwide Series event in Daytona this Saturday you might want to think about getting out more often. Numerous clues had been dropped along the way, and after all, she wasn’t driving in an ARCA race for the sheer joy of competing in that series.
As for that ARCA start in Daytona there were clearly more pluses than minuses in regard her performance behind the wheel. In a wreck filled race she got through pretty much unscathed in her first major stock car start. She even survived a bit of a ‘moment’ herself when she spun through the infield grass. And, she posted a 6th place finish, which is certainly commendable for a driver making her first start on a restrictor plate track.
Now, however, her journey into the world of stock car racing is set to take a definite uphill turn. Having passed that initial test was somewhat the equivalent of passing by a few house cats only to fall into a lion’s den.
Danica will only be entered in a few Nationwide races this year so every opportunity to get behind the wheel has to be taken advantage of.
While there are some good drivers and teams in the ARCA Series, the number of top flight operations in that series does not compare with the Nationwide Series. Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick are among those who Danica will have to face this weekend. And the drivers in this series will be in cars prepared by the top teams in racing.
Danica certainly has plenty of high speed experience but racing in big packs in full bodied stock cars is far different from racing in an open wheel car at Indianapolis. In the ARCA race there was drafting, of course, but there were very few occasions in which she found herself in the type of packs she will race in on Saturday.
And aside from all of that, there are going to be a number of drivers who do not want to get beat by such a highly touted newcomer, especially when that newcomer is female.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly columns appear in The Mountain Press and The Knoxville Journal.
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