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Remember When Danica Was Going to Save NASCAR?

By admin | April 2, 2013

 Danica Patrick came to NASCAR with much fanfare but has produced few results.

By Richard Allen

I have been a fan of NASCAR for as long as I can remember, and unfortunately, that’s a pretty long time. It’s in my blood to be a fan of the sport. My dad was an old dirt tracker back in the day and he named after Richard Petty when I was born in the midst of a season in which ‘The King’ won 27 races(see if you can figure my age without google).

All that said, there have been very few times I can remember when there was as much buzz about NASCAR as there has been these last couple of weeks.

And the fact that might amaze outsiders, and even some insiders, is that none of that buzz is related to Danica Patrick. Remember when we were being told that she was doing the sport a favor and would save it from its lowered TV ratings and empty grandstands? Yeah, that was something like four weeks ago.

After a lackluster Nationwide Series campaign in her first full year in NASCAR last season, Danica moved up to the Sprint Cup division and many in the media, particularly television, latched on to her star immediately. And that focus of attention seemed somewhat well placed when the former IndyCar driver put her Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet on the pole for the Daytona 500 then subsequently drove to a top-10 finish at the checkered flag.

Danica’s performance in Daytona certainly did stir a buzz among the more mainstream media outlets. But as is often the case with NASCAR, that mainstream attention was short-lived.

Since the season opener, the much commercialized female driver’s finishes have fallen off drastically. Over the last four races, Ms. Patrick has scored finishes of 39th, 33rd, 28th and 26th. Her qualifying efforts since claiming that early pole have been even worse. She has started 40th, 37th, 41st and 40th.

It should be noted that Danica crashed in Phoenix after a tire failure and qualifying in Las Vegas was rained out which caused the lineup to be set based on owner points.

So what has caused all the excitement centered around NASCAR lately? Well, it hasn’t been the focus on one or a few individual personalities over the on-track product that has created the buzz.

Instead, the racing over the past two weeks has been much improved over that seen throughout much of 2012. There has been passing to take place over the entire course of the events and finishes that were hotly contested. Further, drivers have demonstrated emotion and passion.

As has been demonstrated in unofficial polls conducted by this website on Twitter and Facebook, fans have overwhelmingly approved of what they have seen from NASCAR on the tracks in Bristol, Tenn. and Fontana, Calif. And more, drivers Denny Hamlin, Tony Stewart and Joey Logano certainly did their part to spice things up by adding heated rivalry to the mix.

To further create interest, it hasn’t hurt that the sport’s most popular driver has assumed the lead in the Sprint Cup standings either.

With all that has taken place over the last three weeks in NASCAR, I find myself asking “Danica who”? Even one of her most vocal supporters, Darrell Waltrip, stated during the Fox TV broadcast of the Fontana race that it was time for her to pick up the level of her performance.

Danica Patrick is not going to save NASCAR. Whether she succeeds or fails, the sport will continue. The best medicine for this form of racing, as has been demonstrated over the last two weeks, is good competition and the demonstration of some personality.

If competitive and entertaining racing continues throughout the season, the grandstands will fill back up and television ratings will rise. And it won’t matter if Danica is running 1st or 41st.

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20 Responses to “Remember When Danica Was Going to Save NASCAR?”

  1. RacingFan Says:
    April 3rd, 2013 at 1:51 am

    Yes, at least the focus is on the frontrunners. But I am still disappointed that the focus has been on the fight, crash, and who was at fault for both. Little discussion has occurred about who would have won the race had the crash not occurred. My feeling is that Kyle would have won, Denny would have finished second and Joey third. Kyle blew by them even before they lost most of their speed from the bumping and banging. I think Denny had more momentum than Joey, having closed the gap on him before they crashed.

    If Danica qualifies and finishes strong at Talledega, it will not speak well of the skill necessary to succeed at that track. Probably almost any taxi driver could sit on the pole and finish in the top ten in their first race ever at that track with a top tier car and a little luck. Not so at Martinsville or Darlington.

  2. zhills fan Says:
    April 3rd, 2013 at 5:07 am

    It better happen quickly. I noticed the empty seats at Bristol. I’ve never seen it so empty. Beings they quit giving attendance figures, I will be glad to announce the attendance was no more than half full.

  3. Nate Says:
    April 3rd, 2013 at 6:53 am

    As much as the NASCAR execs and the Pete Pistone’s don’t want to admit it, the crashes and the fights put butts in the seats and create interest. I don’t believe it is a blood thirst, hard to believe someone likes crashes to see someone get hurt, but its the drama a crash causes. The emotions we saw out of JLO were a result of Denny spinning him. Without the spin, no confrontation. Finally we are starting to see some old fashioned rivalries and guys laying their stones on the line to win a race. Guess what? People are talking about racing again and I’m finding myself really looking forward to Martinsville this Sunday. So glad NASCAR issued no fines after Cali. Have at it boys…..

  4. Danican't Provisional Patrick! Says:
    April 3rd, 2013 at 7:10 am

    Wanna save NASCAN”T, get rid of Brian France!

  5. Lydia Says:
    April 3rd, 2013 at 7:13 am

    Rich….I don’t recall hearing from the fans Danica was going to save NASCAR…that was something NASCAR and the media tossed out into fanland to stir up some interest in a sport that seems to be waning in popularity. The sad part is..if Danica turns out to be another open wheel star who can’t quite make it in stock cars…NASCAR and the media will toss her out again to the fans…this time she won’t be the media darling and NASCAR saviour…she’ll be mud. The pedestal built for her was much too high for anyone to climb (man or woman) in such a short time. Most successful stockcar drivers have years to develop their talent…I can really only think of one open wheel convert who made the transition easily and quickly..her boss Stewart…and let’s face it…he’s one of a kind!

  6. Sue Rarick Says:
    April 3rd, 2013 at 7:47 am

    I used to believe like most that anyone could do well at Talledega if given the right car…till I actually was out on the track.

    A couple years ago Nascar had a benifit deal after the tornados hit that area where you could drive on the track. The long and short of it was I got delayed leaving the pits and they just said go catch up with them 1/2 a lap ahead (they didn’t think a silly Yaris could go over 100…it can :-)

    Back to the point… Those lanes look real wide till your on that 33 degree banking then it looks like your trying to fit in a parking space flanked by 2 huge SUV’s. Also you have to look out the very lower corner of the windshield or out the side window to see where your going.

    We almost caught up to the cars being led around the track- 120 mph around that track gave me a new respect for the people that go around there at 200 mph….. Takes a bit more skill than a taxi driver.

  7. Race Nut Says:
    April 3rd, 2013 at 8:05 am

    Dega and Daytona are the only tracks where she can do anything remotely related to racing.Step on the gas and follow the leader,she is good at that.But on any other track,she follow’s the leader but she is generaly at least 2 laps down.When you have to be able to drive and pass,she’s not even close to being in the same league with every other cup driver. Even the start and parks are able to drive better than her. All she has been is a “flash in the pan” media hype and hopefully she will be where she belongs next racing season:out or the public’s eye!

  8. midasmicah Says:
    April 3rd, 2013 at 9:25 am

    The QOH is in danger of losing her throne. It’s still early, but she needs to put forth some better results. Let’s keep the focus on the racing. It’s been real good so far.

  9. John Cooke Says:
    April 3rd, 2013 at 10:46 am

    Put Johanna Long in her car for one race and the results will speak for themselves!

  10. steven Says:
    April 3rd, 2013 at 11:25 am

    When she is on the plate tracks she has the full advantage of Hendricks Motorsports aerodynamic engineering. That puts her ahead of at least 20 cars easily. Her uncompetitive skills seem to have little impact on her SugarDaddy megabucks income. This is bad for the sport. Could any wide receiver buy his way into the Superbowl? No. I’m not interested in marketing, I want to watch the best drivers race. And she isn’t even close despite the fawning Nascar media.

  11. Ken Says:
    April 3rd, 2013 at 11:26 am

    The NASCAR driven hype over Danica and her “star power” is just another sign that there is a very serious problem with NASCAR. Brian France has proven so many times that he is way out of his league (and mind) with how he is running his show. Make it a “show”, not a “race”. make them “celebrities”, not “drivers”. Was it Teresa Earnhardt who once said that Junior has to decide if he want’s to be a celebrity or a driver, that he can’t be both. Even though I am not, and never have been a Junior fan, since he has decided to be a “driver”, he seems to be doing better, proof that he is a driver before he’s a celebrity. Maybe the NASCAR publicity machine needs to take their collective heads out of the place they weren’t meant to be, and smarten up. However, I fear it is way too late! Danica’s star power has already worn out.

    Still, I would like to see just one race where Go Daddy takes her out of the car and sticks that other female driver, the one who does have talent but not the funding that Danica has, just to see how she does! Danica would be forgotten faster than a politician’s promises!

  12. GinaV24 Says:
    April 3rd, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    I agree with your premise - it isn’t any ONE driver that will “save” NASCAR, its the whole package. I want to see a good race. If my favorite does well, that’s obviously a bonus for me, but unless the racing is good overall, even my favorite winning won’t make me believe I’ve seen something worth paying $ for.

    If the media and Daytona’s suits too, would focus more on the basics for the cars, tires and races, instead of whatever gimmick they need to hype, the sport would be just fine.

    I find all of the media and especially TV’s microfocus frenzy around any driver to be a turn off.

  13. Lorraine Scudder Says:
    April 3rd, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    @John Cooke, totally agree with you. Johanna does so much more with what she’s has. She doesn’t whine about it either, she goes out and gives it her all.

  14. Chris Fiegler Says:
    April 3rd, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    When do you think that Danica Patrick will win her very First Sprint Cup Series Race? & What Speedway will that Be?

  15. tommy25076 Says:
    April 3rd, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    Smoke put here in a car if U look at all Tonys Raceteams he has agood eye for TALENT and he must think shes got itl leave the gril ALONE and let her learn as she goes Im sure she will be a winner Smoke or her ever said she was goin to save NASCAR !!!! By theway I was born on the day of the 1st Daytona 500 how old am?

  16. Doghouse Riley Says:
    April 3rd, 2013 at 7:50 pm

    “When do you think that Danica Patrick will win….”

    She could probably win a demolition derby if driving a Brinks armored car.

  17. Tony Geinzer Says:
    April 3rd, 2013 at 7:53 pm

    I feel Danica is as “Lost In Space” as a driver could be in Sprint Cup. Hinchcliffe is offering a happier return on investment and I feel Smoke will lose a lot having Harvick and Danica under the boat.

  18. Russ Says:
    April 4th, 2013 at 7:15 am

    But it was Danica’s pole winning effort, combined with the wreck in Nationwide the day before, that got the season off to a strong start.
    Arguably it was only the WWE like antics of the last two races that have seemingly revived its fortunes. Certainly after Daytona it appeared to be returning to the pattern of the past couple of years.
    So despite the doubters, she has probably been a positive for Nascar.

  19. kevin Says:
    April 8th, 2013 at 9:58 am

    It will be interesting to see how many naysayers give credit to Danica for her 12th place run at Martinsville. I’m sure there will be no shortage of excuses for how she managed to get there. I’ll give her credit though. She had a tough start, but eventually figured the track out & took a good handling car & drove it to 12th. Good on her! There’s many a ‘talented’ driver who finished far behind her on one of the circuits toughest tracks.

  20. Annie Says:
    April 12th, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    So she made Martinville at 12 place..thats her job, which she continually under performs at. If she was a man you would be lambasting her. Sparkle Pony is a joke..period. Love how they rush to interview her, journalists lower there standards for her, anybody else it would not be worth a mention. Bad pattern set here. Double standards at work again!