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Woody: Danica Would Look Good In Fenders

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, April 22 2009
Danica Patrick interested in NASCAR?  (RacinToday.com photo by Tony Bush)

Danica Patrick interested in NASCAR? (RacinToday.com photo by Tony Bush)


By Larry Woody | Senior Writer

Question: could a driver who is described as being “sexy and sculpted” find happiness in NASCAR?

I never heard Junior Johnson described that way.

But that’s how Danica Patrick is depicted in the current edition of SHAPE Magazine, drawing attention to herself as rumors ripple once again about the possibility of a Danica defection to NASCAR.

Patrick is in the final year of her Indy Racing League contract with Andretti Green Racing. When asked recently in a New York Times story about a potential move from the IRL to NASCAR, Patrick coyly replied that “it’s interesting.”

That’s a subtle but perhaps significant shift from last year’s stance that she’s happy right where she is.

The Danica-to-NASCAR speculation cooled quickly last season after the flameout of Dario Franchitti, combined with the continued struggles of Sam Hornish Jr. If two proven IRL drivers like Franchitti and Hornish had difficulty making the NASCAR transition, could Patrick hope to cut it? Would going to NASCAR be a wise career move?

In the IRL she’s a pretty face in a small crowd; in NASCAR the crowds are larger and drivers seldom pose in bikinis for magazine covers.

Then again, personality and popularity can trump performance; Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s popularity has not wilted or waned amid his losing streak.

Nobody knows if Patrick is seriously pondering a move or if she’s just stirring the media pot. But there’s no denying her magnetism, or what an immediate sensation she would be in NASCAR with its giant PR machine and tons of exposure.

As big as Danica-mania has been in the IRL, it would be magnified a hundred-fold in NASCAR. Patrick, with her keen marketing instincts, realizes that the increased media attention come increased opportunities.

Would some top-flight team owner take a chance on Patrick? In a heart-beat, especially given the current economic climate when high-dollar sponsors are at a premium. The exposure that Patrick would bring to any team and its sponsor would fill a swimming pool with corporate drool.

If it turned out that she could drive, well, so much the better.

Could the petite Patrick cut it physically in the heavier, bulkier stock cars? Are you kidding?  Try shaking hands with her sometime; she’s got the grip of a lumberjack.

Most NASCAR drivers aren’t exactly lumbering behemoths. Danica, in a wet swimsuit, may out-weigh Mark Martin.

Besides, years ago somebody invented power steering. As Janet Guthrie once remarked: “I don’t have to lift the car, I just have to drive it.”

There’re no question that Patrick could physically drive stock cars.

There’s no question that Patrick would create a media whirlwind seldom seen in the sport.

The only questions are, would she be competitive in the new NASCAR world, and is she willing to take the risk?

Like all things Danica, the possibilities are delicious to ponder.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, April 22 2009
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