By admin | January 23, 2012
By Richard Allen
During a Charlotte area stop off for the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour, the motorsports press were provided access to Stewart-Haas Racing’s roster of drivers. While team co-owner and defending Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart was among those to be on hand, he was not necessarily the star attraction.
The team’s newest driver, Danica Patrick, spoke with the assembled media about her plans for the coming 2012 season in which she race full time for JR Motorsports on the Nationwide Series and part time for SHR in the Sprint Cup Series. As the former IndyCar star discussed her expectations for what will be her most heavily involved effort in stock cars, she made what some might consider to be a startling claim.
In regard to this year’s Daytona 500, Patrick said, “I think there’s a real chance, if luck falls our way, to perhaps win.”
Some might say that such is not possible. It might be argued that Danica is too inexperienced to win the sport’s biggest event in her first try. However, those who might make that argument are lacking in memory…and very recent memory at that.
Just one year ago Trevor Bayne was able to win ‘The Great American Race’ in his first Sprint Cup attempt on the big 2.5 mile speedway. Coming into that race, the just turned 20 year old driver had only entered one other event at NASCAR’s highest level. For that matter, he had only been a part of fifteen Nationwide Series races by that time. And, he had never won in any of NASCAR’s top divisions.
Bayne won the 2011 Daytona 500 driving for the Wood Brothers, a single car team that receives engines and some technical support from larger Roush Fenway Racing.
Danica will enter this year’s Daytona 500 with a resume very similar to the one Bayne brought with him a year ago. Except, she will be driving for championship caliber Stewart-Haas Racing, which receives its support from powerhouse Hendrick Motorsports.
As Bayne proved last year, the key to winning the biggest event in Sprint Cup racing is to steer clear of trouble for 497.5 miles and have the car in the right position on the last lap. With whatever rule changes that may be in place by then, it could be anyone of 43 drivers who could do that on February 26th. And that includes Danica Patrick.
But one race Danica won’t win in 2012 is the Indianapolis 500. She announced on Monday that it had proven too difficult to put a deal together for the Memorial Day weekend event. She will compete in the Sprint Cup Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte instead.
I currently have 1835 followers on Twitter. If I reach 2000 by the day of the Daytona 500 I will host a ‘Pick the Winner’ contest for that race which will pay $50 to the winner. So, if you are already on Twitter follow @RacingWithRich for a chance to win. If you’re not on Twitter come on board and join the discussion.
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