Morning Memo: Danica Ready To Bring It?
By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
Let’s see what’s in the old Morning Memo today:
Back during the days when the only thing I used glasses for was drinking domestic beer, I absolutely loved Formula One. Loved every noun-related aspect of it; it’s people, places and things.
But about the time I began to use glasses in order see changing stop lights, I fell out of love with F1. I broke off the affair for several reasons and one of those reasons is now moving over to NASCAR.
It’s a reason that is personified by Danica Patrick.
She’s back in the racing news again this week and, yes, in the NASCAR section of that news. She is reportedly talking to Rick Hendrick and/or Kelley Earnhardt Elledge of JR. Motorsports about part-time rides.
The belief here – based on arguments made here before – is that it is a safe bet that Patrick will never win a championship in any of NASCAR’s top-three series. Hey, the bottom three would be extremely problematic for her.
She is a nice driver. She has some skill. In IndyCar she won a race.
As the seasons have progressed, Patrick has not. Patrick he has gone from being upcoming star to a mid-pack journeyman. She has driven for teams that have consistently won races and whose drivers have won multiple championships in IndyCar, but for whom she can’t find podiums. Her victory total is the same as that of Airton Dare.
The more she races, the more it appears that Patrick may never be one of the series’ all-time greats.
Why then, are the top teams in NASCAR lining up to talk to her? Why are Tony Stewart and Hendrick throwing open their office doors to her and “exploring options” with her?
Heck, why is she even being ushered around the Michael Waltrip Racing shops as though she were, well, good.
Why would top teams like those court a driver whose main experience with cars with fenders is restricted to back seats of limousines when there are so many other younger, more promising drivers out there who can’t even get a tour of Hendrick Motorsports’ souvenir store?
Why is Earnhardt Elledge “excited” about the possibility of landing Patrick?
Those are what are known as rhetorical questions, folks. They are questions to which the answers are already known but are asked merely for effect.
Top teams are looking at Danica Patrick not for her driving abilities or even for her potential, but for her marketing abilities. I’m looking at you, Mike Bliss.
And it appears that those marketing possibilities are accompanied by marketing realities as Go Daddy sponsorship is already in place.
In Formula One, moves like the one involving Patrick are known as “bringing money”. They are situations where drivers are not hired because of what they have done or what they can do on a race track, but because of what they can deposit in their teams’ bank accounts.
The result of that overseas has been that Formula One can no longer lay claim to the series which boosts the best drivers in the world. Merely the home of drivers with the best sugar daddies.
NASCAR has been dang good about learning from the sport-destroying mistakes that have been made in F1.
Let’s hope NASCAR teams learn from the one about “bringing money”.
Memo to self: Sending the tooth fillings to Cash For Gold probably not going to get me that Nationwide ride.
Speaking of Formula One and NASCAR: Are the flood gates open or what?
This week we learn that Mika Salo and Jarno Trulli are talking about driving in the Camping World Truck Series for Michael Waltrip Racing.
Red Horse Racing is also planning to test an F1 driver, Nelson Piquet Jr., he of ordered to throw a race fame, in one of its trucks.
All of the above former F1 drivers follow in the footsteps of guys like Max Papis and Jacques Villeneuve.
Can Michael Schumacher be far behind?
All of this is more of a statement about Formula One than NASCAR. The European F1 landscape is in ruins. Scandals, racism, arrogance, costs, Flavio Briatore have all created a racing black death situation.
The situation wreaks so badly that once-proud open-wheelers are gulping down crow for breakfast as they make frantic calls to Waltrip.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Formula One drivers for their skill and for seemingly being blessed with the suave gene.
But it’s like Barry Fitzgerald says in the movie “The Quiet Man” when asked by Maureen O’Hara if he would like water in his whiskey: When I drink whiskey, I drink whiskey, and when I drink water, I drink water.
Some things are not meant to be mixed.
Memo to self: Scratch plans to make those pork fudge bars for the next cookout.
– Jim Pedley can be reached at email@example.com Comments