I honestly do believe that it is a question of when, not if.
She has proven that she has the talent in open-wheel competition. The IZOD Indy Car series may not be as competitive as NASCAR, the cars may be easier to drive but talent is talent.
This season, running the Nationwide series had to have been a humbling experience for her. A lot of people, myself included thought her first partial season in NASCAR would go a little smoother, maybe contend for a win.
I didn’t think she would pull it off this year, 2011 doesn’t look very promising either.
Is Jr. Motorsports giving Danica the equipment she needs to contend? Without a doubt.
Is communication an issue? Maybe, to the best of my knowledge Tony Eury Jr. has been atop the pit box for all of Patrick’s starts in NASCAR. Maybe “Pops” Tony Eury Sr. would be the best fit for the young driver?
Is Jr. Motorsports the best place for her? I personally think that Stewart Hass Racing would be a better fit. If Tony Stewart were to take Danica under his wing she would improve greatly. Having someone who has made the transition and can relate to the changes she is feeling would be a great benefit.
Unfortunately, the main thing I see holding Danica back in NASCAR is the fact that she is running both series again in 2011.
For her to win she will need to stay focused on one series or the other, I hope that when her contract is up with Andretti she will choose NASCAR on a full time basis.
I don’t see her winning until that happens. The fact that testing is not allowed in a Nationwide car, at a Nationwide track is also going to hinder her performance.
Running more races and testing in the K&N Pro Series or ARCA may be the best way to get her the seat time she needs. The more seat time she can get under her belt, the closer she is going to get to winning.
At the same time, Tony Stewart proved that you can run both series and be competitive. During Stewart's 1997 IRL Championship season he ran five races in what is now the Nationwide series, scoring one top five, and another top 10.
In 1998 he ran another partial season in the Nationwide series along with a full IRL schedule, scoring five top five finishes in 22 starts.
It should also be noted, that the IRL ran 11 races in 1998, as opposed to 17 in 2010, giving Stewart more time to focus on stock cars.
If Patrick has those extra starts, and the extra seat time, who knows what she would be able to do.
You can see a pattern to what I am saying. The only two things I see keeping Danica Patrick out of victory lane is seat time and focus.
If she makes the decision to go to NASCAR with a full time schedule, the sky is the limit. She will always draw sponsors; she will always have the best equipment.
She has the talent. All she needs is time and patience. The wins will come. If I were to predict a win, I would say midway through 2012 at a track like California or Michigan.
I don’t see Danica as a quitter. I think she will be a full time NASCAR driver in 2012. I think she will be a NASCAR winner in 2012.