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Woody: Get Ready NASCAR Nation, Here She Comes

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, September 11 2009
It appears that Danica Patrick may soon be posing for photos with NASCAR fans. (Photo courtesy the Indy Racing League)

It appears that Danica Patrick may soon be posing for photos with NASCAR fans. (Photo courtesy the Indy Racing League)

By Larry Woody | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

I don’t think there’s any question that the Tattooed Lady is going to run off and join the NASCAR circus.

The only question is when. And what will her arrival register on the Richter scale?

It appears more and more likely that open-wheel diva Danica Patrick is going to forsake the IndyCar Series in favor of stock cars. She hasn’t said yes but she hasn’t said no, and what she hasn’t said speaks volumes.

Last week Ms. Patrick continued her NASCAR flirtation with a visit to Stewart-Hass Racing. Boss/driver Tony Stewart is convinced Danica will make the move at some point.

The most likely scenario is that she will wade in gradually to get the feel of the water (as she did on the beach in that steamy Sports Illustrated photo shoot, scoring a perfect 10 on the drool-o-meter.)

Patrick could run some lower-level Nationwide and truck series races next year while also running the 17-race IndyCar schedule. That would prepare her not only for the difference in the type of cars but also for the future rigors of a 36-race Sprint Cup grind.

I know what the detractors say: Danica can’t handle a big, bulky stock car. I remember the words of Janet Guthrie in response to the same girls-can’t-drive nonsense: “I don’t have to lift the car, I just have to drive it.”

Some say that Danica couldn’t be competitive in NASCAR, causing her popularity to plummet. Really? Dale Earnhardt Jr. hasn’t exactly melted the asphalt this season, yet he remains a fan favorite wherever he goes.

If/when Patrick comes to NASCAR she’ll be the greatest thing since sliced bread. (And no, I don’t mean Joey Logano.)

Those rusty turnstiles will be twirling at every track. Fans will flock to get an up-close peek at Patrick (worth the price of admission) and to pull for Ms. Underdog to prove her detractors wrong.

Can she come into NASCAR and immediately compete for the championship? No, of course not. And neither could Richard Petty.

Can she come into NASCAR and right off run up front? No, and neither could Jeff Gordon.

But can she come into NASCAR and immediately shake the stogy old sport to its socks? Yes she can. And yes, eventually, she will.

If you think Danica has worked wonders for the IRL (which she has) her impact will be 10-fold in NASCAR with its bigger audience and mega-marketing machine.

Danica at Daytona: imagine the frenzy.

Granted, she doing well in the IRL, but in NASCAR she’ll be worth her weight (100 pounds in a wet bikini) in gold. She can’t pass it up.

– Larry Woody can be reached at lwoody@racintoday.com

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, September 11 2009
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