Danica Patrick and NASCAR's 10 Most Notable Female Drivers Ever

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Danica Patrick and NASCAR's 10 Most Notable Female Drivers Ever
photo credit: skirtsandsports.com/google

The women of NASCAR have not had it easy on their path into the male dominated sport of stock car racing, but some have garnered considerable attention for their attempts to race with the boys.

Many of the women who have been able to race in the top-three series of NASCAR came from a background in karting just like many of the guys.

Those who began karting at a young age often gravitate to the open-wheel series and do somewhat better than they do with the heavier, bulky stock cars.

There were women who came into racing as a novelty back in the very early days of NASCAR, but did surprisingly well against the men we consider legends.

Since the 1970's we have seen a spattering of women from the IndyCar series try and make their mark in NASCAR.

The top series of NASCAR, known currently as the Sprint Cup series, has always been male dominated and until recent years most of those men preferred it that way.

Back in June, 2006 an Associated Press article was posted on ESPN Racing in which Richard Petty declared his feelings about women in racing.

Petty stated in the article, "I just don't think it's a sport for women and so far it's proved out. It's really not. It's good for them to come in. It gives us us a lot of publicity, it gives them publicity."

There were those who thought his statement was somewhat out of line, but truth be known, there were most likely many male drivers who felt the same way. That, of course, is just the opinion of this writer, and there are no facts to substantiate it.

NASCAR now has the Drive for Diversity program, which is currently in its eighth year. These are drivers who have proven talent behind the wheel and will be helped along in the lower series of NASCAR with hopes that one day they will be driving in the top series.

There are 10 drivers in this year's Drive for Diversity class, and three of them are women—Tayla Orleans, Jessica Brunelli and MacKena Bell. They will race in the NASCAR Whelen-All American series.

The high dollars spent in the top-three series of NASCAR now require strong sponsorship funding. Often it is difficult for women to secure that kind of money for a team because they have not proven to be contenders.

A bit of a catch-22 exists because the young women may have great talent, but if they make it to NASCAR, they are relegated to low budget teams for the most part and don't have the equipment to showcase their talent.

In this slideshow we will look at women who have raced in the Cup, NASCAR Nationwide and NASCAR Camping World Truck series.

They came from a variety of backgrounds and most all of them just made a splash in the NASCAR pool, then drifted back to other racing series or stopped racing.

The women we see today are securing sponsorship and seem to be a pretty feisty breed willing to contend with the hard knocks they get from the guys.

It remains to be seen how the women we see in NASCAR now will look in the history books. Some may make a considerable mark while others will end up being a blip in the records.

Keep in mind this is not a ranking of the best women drivers in NASCAR history. It is the 10 women who have garnered the most attention for a variety of reasons, some of which included their talent behind the wheel of a stock car.

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