Friday, February 12, 2010

Danica-Mania Has Already Started; First Race is Saturday at Daytona

by Micah Roberts


This Saturday’s Nationwide race at Daytona can expect high ratings with lots of interested parties because that is where Indy Racing star Danica Patrick will make her official racing debut. Last week she finished sixth in the ARCA race at Daytona, the first time I have ever watched an entire ARCA race on television from start to finish.

Patrick did well in that race and finished sixth. This week will be much more of challenge especially considering she’ll be racing against Kyle Busch, Tony Stewart, and her boss, Dale Earnhardt Jr.

She doesn’t have any lofty expectations of winning the race, but will utilize the chance to race against Stewart and Earnhardt Jr, who have both taken her under their wing with advice.

Her Nationwide practice times jumped from the first session where she ran at 26th to the final session where she clocked in fifth fastest. Many of the teams were using the final session in qualifying trim making limited simulations, but fast is still fast.

She has a great team behind her and the equipment to do well if she picks things up as fast as she appears to have done.

Still, the difficulties of doing well in her first race are the opinions of many including the Las Vegas sports books. Station Casinos opened her odds to win Saturday’s race as the longest shot at 50 to 1.

Just about every NASCAR driver has a Twitter account and they tweet regularly like their in a contest of some sorts. It is apparent by some tweets that some in the NASCAR circles feel some animosity because of all the hoopla surrounding Patrick and her debut.

Regan Smith tweeted Wednesday during Nationwide practice that ESPN’s coverage of Patrick was a bit much saying, The other 50 plus drivers should have coverage for them ESPN classic.

The hype surrounding Patrick has been huge, but why not? She is a unique individual that crosses all lines by selling sex and Motorsports at the same time. Who else can look as good as she does in her bikini and commercial shoots while driving a car at the level she does?

The detractors who say she hasn’t won anything for all the attention garnered are missing the bigger picture. Sex sells in America and businesses are buying it knowing that her crossover appeal will attract attention to their product just because of the splash she makes.

Television ratings won’t match Sunday’s Daytona 500 which is expected to grab close to 17 million viewers, or a 10.0 rating, but it should be one of the most watched Nationwide races just because of ESPN promoting the race non-stop as Patrick’s NASCAR debut.

I’m hoping she does well and validates all the attention given to her while gaining respect from those on the fence. However fans feel about her, it’s safe to say many will watch just to see what happens next to create their next opinion.

For those on twitter, she is currently asking her 84,000 followers to create a nickname for her. We may have to wait a few races to get a read on her stock car personality. If it turns out to be anything like her time in the IRL with some of her outbursts and confrontations, the suggested names will be interesting.

One thing is for sure that we can all agree on is that we’ll be watching.

2 comments:

Jeff said...

I'm already sick of her, actually thats not fair, I'm sick of all the media hype surrounding her, enough already, I can't understand all the hype, women have done this before, NHRA is full of female drivers, that win all the time. Peronally, I think Patrick is a middle of the pack driver and thats all she'll ever be, has nothing to do with her gender, she's not that spectacular behind the wheel.

Fireballr7 said...

Thanks for the read Jeff. That is about the same sentiment I'm hearing from many, especially some of the drivers.
I heard Kyle Busch even say something to the point that her limited racing schedule was hurting the other up and comers for sponsorship....what does he do?

I have a feeling the boys are going to be a little rough on her and it will be interesting to see how she takes it....and it will be even more interesting to see how the other driver takes when she gets in his face.