Danica Patrick will start her first full Sprint Cup season in 2013. Without a doubt, she will be put under the microscope by both fans and media alike as she tries to make a name for herself in stock car racing.
After a somewhat lackluster run in the Nationwide series, what will be the best-case scenario for Danica in 2013?
She will be racing for Stewart-Haas Racing, one of the top teams in the Sprint Cup series. She will be racing in top equipment, which is a huge advantage, especially for a newcomer in the Sprint Cup series.
With veterans like Ryan Newman—and specifically Tony Stewart—helping her improve during her career, Patrick will have top drivers helping her into the 2013 season. Tony Stewart is the most successful Indy to stock car racing driver seen in NASCAR, and if anyone can help Danica make the adjustment, it's going to be smoke.
But with the best equipment, major sponsors and some of the top drivers helping her out, Danica will be expected to deliver solid results in the Sprint Cup series. She will also be criticized if she doesn't.
As NASCAR gets ready for the 2013 season, what will be the best-case scenario for Danica?
Focus on Driving
Danica hasn't been afraid to stick up for herself when she feels like she is unfairly getting picked on.
Last season, she wasn't afraid to dump Sam Hornish Jr. into the wall after the Talladega race when she believed he was blocking her for no reason on the last lap.
She also wasn't afraid to try to take out Landon Cassill when she'd had enough of him bumping into her at Kansas.
Unfortunately for Patrick, those two incidents portrayed her in a negative way. Sam Hornish Jr. claimed to have a tire going down at Talladega, which is why he ended up blocking her. Danica’s retaliation then looked completely unnecessary, especially since it was after the race.
Her attempt to dump Landon Cassill ended badly as well, as Danica sent herself into the wall and wrecked her own car.
Other drivers will test Danica. Whether it's because of who she is or if it's some type of rookie hazing, she will be pushed and judged on how she reacts.
The best scenario for Danica in 2013 is going to be to focus just on racing. Sure, people will push her, but she needs to worry about finishing races instead of trying to always stand up for herself.
There will be tracks where she runs well and others where she struggles severely, but one thing Danica can take from her IndyCar series experience is how she usually managed to finish each race.
In her last two seasons of IndyCar, for example, Danica had 0 DNFs. That is a goal she should also try to achieve in the Sprint Cup series.
There is nothing wrong with Patrick sticking up for herself, but she is clearly going to be judged on her actions in 2013, and if she spends the season fighting with people instead of focusing on driving, what will racing fans think of her?
Danica needs to focus on driving in 2013 to help her improve and gain more experience in stock car racing.
Controlling Her Anger
Let’s be honest: Like it or not, Danica is going to be a focal point of the Sprint Cup series next season. She is going to be talked about before and after races, and all over the media.
Danica can have a bit of a temper when things don't exactly go her way. Her temper could end up placing her in the spotlight of the media, which is something Danica should try to avoid.
Media is a huge part of NASCAR, but if Patrick plans on being a serious driver, she needs to try to avoid ending up as the attention of the media, especially if it's over something negative.
If anything, Danica should try to lay low. If she is constantly talked about because of negative things she does, how will she succeed as a driver?
She was voted the most popular driver in Nationwide, and she'll carry that popularity over to the Sprint Cup series. Letting her anger put her in the spotlight of NASCAR in a negative way could ruin her popularity.
Danica should let her driving do the talking and try to stay out of the spotlight, unless it's for something positive she did.
Just the Beginning
No matter what happens in the 2013 season, it's just the beginning for Danica. Next season should be considered part of the learning process, and whether she manages to do well or struggles all season long, she will remain a part of the Sprint Cup series for several years to come.
2013 is going to be part of the learning experience for Danica as she adjusts to stock car racing.
Next season, the best-case scenario for Danica Patrick would be to focus on driving while controlling her anger to avoid being negatively portrayed in the media.
She will be tested in the Sprint Cup series, and the best way to prove she can race with the best in NASCAR would be to focus on racing and try to continue improving her overall stock car career in 2013.
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