Danica Patrick joins NASCAR

Posted on Author Keith Collantine

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

83 comments on “Danica Patrick joins NASCAR”

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  1. 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?

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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…….

  6. 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

    1. 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.

  7. 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 ;-)

    1. Typical American driver?
      I’m not American but please explain that one…

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

  9. 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.

    1. 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.

  10. “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.

  11. I fail to see the differances in IRL teams, I thought they all ran the same car and engine. I wonder what are the reasons Andretti Green have for having a bad year in IRL.

    1. Every team gets the same base chassis from Dallara and Engine/Transmission from Honda.
      But the teams with more money get to develop suspension pieces, brakes, and aerodynamic winglets and whatnot. Danica’s team fell by the wayside because of poor management.

  12. Personally I think she would have come to F1 in a blaze of publicity and little else. And I have an issue with this as we see it far to often. I think she has more to loose coming to F1 and much more to gain especially financially by doing what she’s doing. Good luck to her and I wish her well…

  13. theRoswellite
    9th December 2009, 18:21

    Hey give the girl a break…..Patrick is a good driver, she got to where she is based on talent. You can’t race Indy cars without a certain skill set.
    She probably has a very good idea about how her talent ranks with the men she races against.

    She is smart enough to capitalize on the media attention she receives based on her sex/looks. If she didn’t do this she would be a fool.

    Is she good enough to race in F1? Very few drivers are good enough to even enter the conversation. She certainly knows that looking at F1 doesn’t make any sense unless she can dominate at her present level, which she isn’t doing.

    Besides, it wouldn’t make any commercial sense for her to race in a series which the average American motor racing fan is aware of in name only. She needs to maximize her financial earnings now, in the years that she can race competitively.

    Keith is right, she would be very big copy in F1, but doing a Badoer (sorry Luca) would bring about all the worst kinda of sexist criticism. To be a viable commercial entity she doesn’t need to win, she just can’t be viewed as a loser.

    I think she knows F1 is out of her league, quite literally, and running at the middle-to-front in NASCAR may be very tough…ask Montoya.

    So lets ease up a bit on her, and keep looking for the real deal when…SHE…comes along.

    1. “You can’t race Indy cars without a certain skill set.”

      You obviously haven’t watched an Indy race in a long time. Just look at Milka Duno and Marty Roth to name a couple. Milka especially isn’t good enough to be a cab driver in NYC. Let alone drive a race car.

      And I’m not being harsh on her because she’s a woman. I just don’t like her because she’s a fake.

      Sarah Fisher is much more the real deal and I would be delighted to see her do well. Same for Ana Beatriz, who is slowly making her way up to Indycars.

  14. Ive been following F1 and CART/IRL Indy whatever it is called now for a while now and I have to say racing is all about “mileage” and practice.
    Getting into it requires tons of money and connections perhaps.

    Danica would do well in F1 just as any other driver if she got into the right situation.
    Winning doesnt require total skill. Like iI said earlier it takes money and connections. Then its just takes seat time and practice. Practice enough, anyone can get good at racing.
    Thats why racing itself can have generations of drivers from the same family. Not too many sports have that. I dont think racers overall are that talented to be honest.

    I mean, Damon Hill won a title didnt he?

  15. Anything American on this or for that fact, any British centric website will always and forever be “not good enough”.

    Therefore, I will always take the rants on this page with a grain of salt.

    1. That’s not it at all.

      You can’t honestly say Danica is a frontrunner for an F1 drive on the basis of a single win in IRL. Not before Franchitti, Dixon, Castroneves, Wheldon, and even Kanaan and Briscoe – and even those guys know that being IRL champion on its own does not mean an massive amount in the grand scheme of F1’s concerns, not at the moment.

  16. theRoswellite
    9th December 2009, 23:29

    @ F1 Outsider…

    I Googled Milka Images…..I’d say she had a set……of skills.

    Actually, I completely defer to your knowledge regarding this young women, as you are correct in saying I haven’t watched any US open wheel racing in a long time.

    @ Ken…

    “Then its just takes seat time and practice. Practice enough, anyone can get good at racing.
    Thats why racing itself can have generations of drivers from the same family. Not too many sports have that. I dont think racers overall are that talented to be honest.

    I mean, Damon Hill won a title didnt he?”

    May I submit that the generational component actually reinforces the case for…talent. And it certainly can be passed along genetically, in the form of reaction time, visual acuity, a sense of balance, a “competitive nature”, perhaps even…physical courage…try driving a lap at Spa in the rain.

    And what the heck is wrong with Damon Hill?

    1. He was an average driver?

  17. I think its for the better that Danica did not become a F1 driver.I don’t want her to end up like Bourdais or Michael Andretti.

  18. I think that Patrick should stay in Indy cars until she proves she can win. This partial transition is a mistake on all team owners involved. NASCAR drivers can barely accomodate a schdedule within their own NASCAR series yet alone race two different leagues.

    As a junior Fan I am dissapointed that he would offer this move. The Hendricks organization is just out for sponsopship and this will make a new example for team organizations.

    I have always wanted to be a race car driver. So if I can raise enough money, then I can get to be one. Even if I suck, as long as I want to pay.

    This is the message being sent. NASCAR needs to consider this carefully. She hasn’t won a thing yet and does not deserve to come over to NASCAR.

    Jr. What are you doing? Why don’t you try to win races instead of this crap? Running bars? promoting too many products? Now this??

    Get back to the real and stop BS’ing us.

    I didn’t agree with Montoya, but he is proving to be worthy.

    Patrick is a waste of time in NASCAR. She might as well ride around with Almandinger (did I spell his name right? doesn’t matter)

    Please tell me that she has to WIN a Nationwide Race before Hendrick promotes her to Sprint cup.

    If she is promoted without needed proof then I would be foreced to turn off the tv and probably never watch again.

    NASCAR needs to be careful with this one. I do not Support Patrick in NASCAR at this time. She has not earned it and SHAME on Junior and Mr. Hendrick for taking these actions.

    1. she would have to qualify for a SS license from nascar…so there is still a ‘?’ as to if she would even get one.

  19. Guys, just for fun why don’t you come out with something like what it would be if she was paired(team Mate) with drivers like Lewis/Alonso/Kimi etc., Like will Kimi stop eating icecreams and ….

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