When Danica Patrick first announced she would be coming to NASCAR, some enterprising track promoters did everything in their power to entice her to make their tracks one of her tracks on her 2010 schedule. Jerry Gappens, Vice President and General Manager of New Hampshire Motor Speedway, took it one step further, using lobster as the bait.
Apparently, the lobster lure worked in just the way it was intended. Patrick announced that New Hampshire Motor Speedway will indeed be on her racing dance card and she will be there to race in June.
"This is great news for our fans here in New England," Gappens said. "Danica is a talented race car driver and a major sports personality that will bring the national spotlight to the largest sports and entertainment facility in New England."
Patrick will be racing a limited Nationwide schedule for the 2010 season with JR Motorsports. Her first race will be Feb. 20 at Fontana in the Statler Bros. 300 Nationwide event.
Patrick then intends to race 12 Nationwide races in total, weaving her JR Motorsports responsibilities around her IndyCar schedule. She and her team are still undecided if she will race at Daytona in the season opener in a few weeks.
As is her style, Patrick has carefully calculated when and where she will race.
"Like I've said before, we just want to be smart and calculative about this process," Patrick said. "The tracks we've selected not only compliment the IndyCar schedule, but will give me quality seat time at a variety of facilities."
And yet in spite of that logical approach, the lure of the loster did indeed seem to win out, at least in the case of New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
This was somewhat unexpected given Danica's reaction, one of surprise and a little disgust, to the 20 pounds of fresh lobster that Gappens took with him for Danica and her team in the attempt to entice her to race at NHMS.
In fact, when she was first presented with the lobster lure, she said she almost felt a little sorry for it and reacted sadly, having just experienced the loss of a pet.
“I had to put my dog down in March that I had had for 14 years,” Patrick said at the time. “It was so awful, and ever since then I have had such sadness for dead animals."
“I don’t know what my problem is. I am like ultra-wus sensitive to animals dying – and a lobster is an animal to me," Patrick continued. "I can’t imagine getting steamed to death, so I can’t help but think about that when I see that poor lobster.”
Whether has conquered her fear and sadness over that lobster or the race at the "Magic Mile" just happened to fit her schedule, New Hampshire Motor Speedway is thrilled to have one of the biggest female drivers in motorsports come race at their venue.
In fact, Patrick will be just the sixth woman to attempt to qualify for a NASCAR Nationwide race at NHMS. The other women were Kim Crosby in 2005, Tina Gordon in 2004, Tammy Jo Kirk in 2003, Patty Moise in 1990, 1996, and 1998, and Shawn Robinson in 1992 and 1993.
Patrick will attempt to make history at New Hampshire on June 26 by competing in the NASCAR Nationwide Series New England 200 at the "Magic Mile."
Ever the track promoter, Gappens is also plotting his next move once Patrick comes to his venue. "Since she didn't eat the lobster," Gappens said. "I will have to find an appropriate thank you gift for Danica."
"Perhaps I'll get here a pair of high-heeled Christian Louboutin's," Gappens said with a grin.
Fans interested in taking in all the action at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, from Danicamania to the lobster feasts, can contact the track online at www.nhms.com or by phone at (603) 783-4931. Tickets for the NASCAR Nationwide Series New England 200 start at $25.