NASCAR: Danica Patrick Must Make These 5 Changes to Become a NASCAR Legend

Michael Guadalupe@The_GuadaFeatured ColumnistJune 5, 2012

NASCAR: Danica Patrick Must Make These 5 Changes to Become a NASCAR Legend

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    It's hard to say if Danica will even come remotely close to being a NASCAR legend.

    It's hard to say if she will even win a race.

    Regardless though Danica has one thing going for her that, if she can capitalize on it, could help skyrocket her even further into the NASCAR history books.

    Love her or hate her, Danica has been the talk of NASCAR since she began her full time Nationwide series debut this year.  She has a solid fan base, and a lot of people who want to see her succeed.  She has the sponsorship and has great mentors in team owners Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Tony Stewart.

    Danica has more support, more backing than any other women driver before her, or currently driving.  She has more support than most drivers in Nationwide.

    With so much hype behind her, Danica could easily end up being a bust, or if she makes several changes moving forward and ends up being a great NASCAR driver, she could end up in the history books as a NASCAR legend.

Gain More Experience Before Heading into the Sprint Cup Series

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    The road to becoming a NASCAR legend is not easy. 

    Before anything else, if Danica ever plans to achieve legendary status, she needs more experience.

    Simply racing in the Nationwide series for one full year and then moving straight to the Sprint Cup series may prove to be too much for her.

    She needs to be able to successfully run in Nationwide before she is ready to move up in the ranks. 

    Finishing in the top 10 for the year would be a good start, but even if she manages to accomplish that, she should still stay another couple years until she has solidly cemented herself as a dominant driver in the Nationwide series.

    Some could argue that Joey Logano for example, moved too fast from Nationwide to Sprint Cup.  While Logano is a dominate force in the Nationwide series, he tends to struggle in the Sprint Cup series.  The same could happen to Danica, and with so much momentum from fans and sponsorship behind her, she could lose it if she has a lackluster performance when she runs full time for the Sprint Cup series next year.

    Moving too fast into Sprint Cup could play disastrous for Danica, and prevent her from making several other changes that she needs to improve on if she ever hopes of become a NASCAR legend.

Win Races

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    If Danica were to ever be considered a legend, she would first need to win some races.

    She could come to the Sprint Cup series and essentially never win a race.  That won’t mean she isn't a good driver though.  However, she needs to win races to prove that NASCAR, more specifically the Sprint Cup series, isn't just for men.  How else will we compare her to already established legends, and even some current drivers who will one day be considered legends themselves?

    It's not acceptable to say "Danica is a great driver because she placed third once."  Danica needs to be considered a driver, and the fact that she is a woman should not play any part in holding her back or justifying how well she does.

    After Danica hopefully gains the experience she needs, she needs to start winning races. 

    Going from Indy to NASCAR might be a tough transition for most, but it can be done.  In order for her to achieve legend status she needs to show that regardless of sex, she can still race with the best of them and win.

Gain Respect

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    In order for Danica to move forward in the NASCAR history books, she will need to gain the respect of both NASCAR drivers and fans.

    She will need to show that she can be just as tough as anyone else, and that regardless of people calling her a publicity stunt, she can actually race.

    She needs to pick her battles, and learn what is acceptable and what isn't.

    The incident at Talladega this year for example was something that was unacceptable.  By now you've heard how after the race Patrick thought Hornish Jr. had attempted to block her on the last lap, so after the race was over, she helped him into the wall.

    Actions like this are unacceptable, and will hurt her image and any respect that she plans to gain from fans and from fellow drivers.

    Sure, she may have the respect of Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt Jr., but that's only because she races for them. She has to earn respect out on the tracks and show that she belongs in the Sprint Cup series.

    If she races her tail off, and gains the respect of both fans and drivers, Danica will be one step closer to ending up a NASCAR legend.

Get Serious

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    This is probably the biggest one Danica has right now.

    She needs to get serious.

    Do you really take her seriously when you see her in those Go-Daddy commercials?  Or what about those swimsuit pictures of her all over the internet?

    How can we take Danica as a serious driver, when she seems more interested in sex appeal than actually being a good driver?

    Danica needs to get serious.  It's time for her to focus on her driving instead of on her looks.

    How Danica will be remembered will play a huge part in if she should be considered a legend.

    Does she want to be remembered for posing in swimsuits and being a pretty face in NASCAR?  Or does she want to be remembered as a dominate woman in a sport run by men?

    I understand that Danica may need to do the Go-Daddy commercials simply because they are her sponsor.  A time will come however when she needs to prove that even though sponsorship helped play a huge role in propelling her forward, she is now ready to be a serious NASCAR driver.

    She still has time.  For Danica to go into the legend books though, she needs to get serious about NASCAR and focus on her driving abilities and worry a little less about her looks.

Pave the Way

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    Danica has a huge opportunity to help pave the way for other future female drivers.

    She needs to act on her now booming fame in NASCAR and establish herself as a good driver.  If she manages to do that, she can begin to do what legends like Earnhardt senior and Richard Petty did:

    Pave the way for those who come after them.

    The most important thing a NASCAR legend can do is change the sport for the better.  Danica has a huge opportunity to do just that.

    If she manages to make even the smallest impact on the NASCAR Sprint Cup series, she could help bring other female drivers to the series in the future.

    Danica needs to be a driver like everyone else. At the same time however, she needs to stand out and lead NASCAR into a new future.

    She also has enough star power behind her to make NASCAR's popularity even bigger than it is. She is well known enough to help increase NASCAR's popularity, but she needs to do so positively, and attempt to be the first women in Sprint Cup history to win a race.

    Paving the way for other female drivers and increasing NASCAR's popularity won't be easy.  More than likely, the only way to accomplish this is to do the things mentioned in the previous slides. 

    However, Danica is in a beneficial situation right now. She needs to change several things as she moves forward.

    If she manages to succeed in the Sprint Cup series, she could one day be referred to as a legend.