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. CLK GTR said on 9th December 2009, 17:13

    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.

    • F1 Outsider said on 9th December 2009, 17:48

      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.

  2. 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…

  3. theRoswellite said on 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.

    • F1 Outsider said on 9th December 2009, 21:21

      “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.

  4. 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?

  5. gospeedracer said on 9th December 2009, 22:36

    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.

    • Robert McKay said on 9th December 2009, 22:47

      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.

  6. theRoswellite said on 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?

  7. ciaran said on 9th December 2009, 23:40

    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.

  8. 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.

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

  9. Chandra said on 10th December 2009, 18:38

    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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