Danica Patrick joins NASCAR

Danica Patrick will race in NASCAR as well as Indy Car next year

Danica Patrick will race in NASCAR as well as Indy Car next year

Danica Patrick joining NASCAR may not seem especially relevant for F1 fans, particularly those of us in Europe.

But you have to pause for a moment and consider the scale of the missed opportunity. Here is a talented, female, American racing driver who, had things gone differently, might have ended up in F1.

Simply being the first female F1 driver in 17 years would have been a boost for the sport’s profile. But having an American driver as well would have been a marketing dream.

Patrick will appear in several second-tier NASCAR Nationwide races next year alongside her Indy Car activities. Inevitably this is being seen as an escalation to a full campaign in the NASCAR top-flight in the future.

Could things have worked out differently? Patrick considered a move into GP2 in 2005 – but instead chose the Indy Racing League.

Another American driver – Scott Speed – finished third in that year’s championship and graduated to F1 with Toro Rosso in 2006.

Any discussion about Patrick tends to lead to a debate over how good she actually is. After joining the IRL she became the darling of the category when she led the 2005 Indianapolis 500. In 2007 she joined top team Andretti-Green. But her detractors – every bit as vociferous as her fans – point out she’s only won one Indy Car race in 81 attempts.

We can discuss whether or not she could have been a success in F1. And, in my opinion, I think she would have found it very tough.

But what you can’t deny is it would have attracted a huge amount of attention and given F1’s profile a massive boost.

At least with Alexander Rossi and JR Hildebrand testing F1 cars last week the prospects of there being an American in Grand Prix racing in the future are looking brighter. Up-and-coming female racing drivers, however, are even harder to find.

Image (C) Indy Car

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83 comments on Danica Patrick joins NASCAR

  1. Brian said on 9th December 2009, 2:42

    I think the only woman that has a chance to make it to F1 any time soon is Buemi’s female cousin. I forget her name, but the point is that she is likely the best candidate for making F1.

  2. Scottish driver Susie Stoddart is another woman who could get into F1 if someone were to give her a chance.

    She would be far better. And she’s got a bit of talent, and races on circuits, not round and round on ovals.

    • Thought Kathy Legge would have been a better choice in the past. She did have a test with Minardi, if I remember correctly. But she hasn’t done that well in DTM.

  3. hippo said on 9th December 2009, 3:02

    No kidding. Manager Andretti Jr. Learn’t the hard way.Pass on the advice and save the embarrassment. Skills required else do not apply

  4. GeeMac said on 9th December 2009, 4:19

    Danica Patrick: American, Female, racing driver, good on tracks that just go left, no so good on tracks that also have right hand corners.

    Sorry, but she wouldn’t cut it in F1. The chances of her making it to F1 went out the window when she decided not to drive in GP2.

  5. For as much as I have bashed Danica and her talents on here in the past, I will admit to the following:

    – She was the highest-placed American in IndyCar this year, and did beat her teamamte and sometimes-F1 prospect Marco Andretti on a regular basis. She lagged behind the elite drivers (Dixon, Dario, Helio, Kanaan) but was at least more consistent than past seasons.
    – In terms of moving to NASCAR, she’s taking a sensable approach for several reasons. First, stock cars are a WAY different breed of racing than either F1 or IndyCar….just ask JV, Dario, or JPM on how different it is when jumping in at the Sprint Cup level. With the ARCA and Nationwide races, she can learn at her own pace. If the whole thing blows up and sinks on her, so what…she just chalks it up as a failed experiment. At the same time, by running a full IndyCar schedule, she keeps the movement going that got her here to begin with, so nothing lost if the NASCAR deal dosen’t work out.

    I understand that Danica dose have talent, has accomplished alot more than many other drivers, and could probably accomplish something to F1 if she dedicated herself to it. What bugs me is so many people pushing her for an F1 drive where there are other young Americans with driving talent who have real ambitions of reacing F1…if some of them had even a fraction of Danica’s sponsorship and funding, we may see some of them on the grid already.

  6. Jay Menon said on 9th December 2009, 4:50

    I watched a really interesting documentary on National Geographic yesterday, it was called Racing To America. The show follows JPMs switch from Open Wheelers to stock cars. I have to say, my interpretation of NASCAR has changed dramatically after what I saw.

    I’ve never really watched NASCAR proper, but all I can say is that, its always looked like a lot of fun. I think NASCAR is just as difficult as F1, just that its a different kettle of fish. I believe that real racers can race anything and be successful, it just depends how much time they are given and how good their machinery is.

    I havent watched too many Indycar races, the few I’ve watched, Danica was always yelling at some one at some point. I can’t really judge if she’s any good so I wont comment.

    Well lets just put it this, the media can make anyone believe anything…if they made you believe that David Beckham was one of the greatest players ever…why can’t they make us believe that Danica Patrick is a really good racing driver?

  7. CLK GTR said on 9th December 2009, 5:14

    Danica in F1 is never going to happen. F1 would be high risk move for her and could end her iconic status she holds now. Look what happened to fissi, everyone (incl me) was screaming at the possibility of him winning monza, but look what happened.

    The expectations on Danica are just too high, if she fails it will be THE BIGGEST DISAPPOINTING EVENT IN MOTORING HISTORY. No way anyone in their right mind would risk it. Even Schumi chickened out earlier this year saying his neck was screwed up, imagine if a Luca would have happened to him.

  8. CLK GTR said on 9th December 2009, 5:16

    Scottish driver Susie Stoddart is another woman who could get into F1 if someone were to give her a chance.
    She would be far better. And she’s got a bit of talent, and races on circuits, not round and round on ovals.

    She is doing Toto Wolff nowadays so she could have a chance.

  9. Of course she is talented. Not only that, she is improving. In 2007 she just outperformed one out of her three full-time teammates. In 2008 Danica beat two out of three. This year she beat all three. And I might add that IndyCars has added road / street courses during that period. Danica did relatively worse on a more oval-heavy schedule.

    I really don’t think she would have excelled in F1, but she probably would have been average. She also would have garnered intense public interest. More sponsors, more fans, more attention – all of which would have been good for the sport. I think it’s a shame that we won’t get to see how she could have performed.

  10. DGR-F1 said on 9th December 2009, 8:08

    There are other women racing drivers out there, of course, in DTM, Rallying, and the youngsters making their way through Formula Renault and Ginetta Juniors, so it might be worth not quite holding your breath for Danica, and to look out for the others…….

  11. steph said on 9th December 2009, 8:53

    I’ve been thinking about this for a while so I can at least try to do this issue some justice.
    Patrick would have been a short term quick fix bringing only media hype but I fear it would have ended in disaster.
    I think the way forward is by a natural process. Find a great racer, get her through the other series and if she is good enough then give her a seat-just like we do with men and so the issue if sex is irrelevant and it is about driving ability like it should be. This may take a while as I think the real problem is that there isn’t any female star right now. But bringing someone in for pr or to unlock an area of the driving market could do more harm than good. The media attention will mean if it fails then everyone will see and say ‘look women can’t do it’ and we will be waiting forever for the opportunity again.
    Maybe encouraging more girls to kart will be a simple but very effective step. The question is do you want a solution now or the right one?
    Wonderful responses from everyone by the way

    • Lets hope some team can bring on Sarah Moore and persuade her to race in open wheel events.
      She just got the Autosport British Club Driver Award. After she won the Ginetta Junior championship this year and she’s only 16.

  12. She is a typical American driver, and would only come into F1 as a marketing tool. She is not a great driver at all, technical very limited and not a natural speedfreak like, for example, Dixon is.
    Tough its always nice to see a woman race against some testosteron filled dudes who think the world revolves around them. Certainly when she wins ;-)

  13. Let one of the top F1 teams give her a proper test and we vill know a lot more.

  14. F1 Outsider said on 9th December 2009, 13:49

    Imagine Sebastien Bourdais with a wig and a bit of faux attitude and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what Danica in F1 would’ve been like.

    • Robert McKay said on 9th December 2009, 16:53

      Algebra lesson!

      [(Bourdais’s whinging – his American results) x Scott Speed’s brashness and arrogance] + breasts = Danica

      I don’t think anyone put it better on Danica than the USF1 Day 1 Youtube video.

      Not good enough for F1. Not good enough to even be on the F1 rumour list, in my view.

      I agree a woman in an F1 seat would be a marketing boom, but there’s no point if she’s not any good.

  15. YeaMon said on 9th December 2009, 16:43

    “Imagine Sebastien Bourdais with a wig and a bit of faux attitude and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what Danica in F1 would’ve been like.”

    Sorry but bourdais showed at least a hint of talent. All Patrick has done is **** and moan, crash cars, fault other drivers on crashes, and spin on pit road. Not only would she be bad in F1, but potentially dangerous.

    She’s one of the most overhyped drivers ever. There’s no doubt that Andretti Green has had an off year in ’09, but the cars weren’t THAT bad. She was completely irrelevant in every single race. She says she’s a good road course driver, but she hasn’t put up the results. People say she’s good on ovals, but yet people with more track time on road courses are better on ovals compared to Patrick’s 1 victory. It’s better she’s not in F1, in the past few seasons there’s been to many drivers on the grid that shouldn’t be there. Nascar’s “gain” is leaves F1 better off.

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