Danica Patrick: Is Running a Full Season in NASCAR a Good Idea for Her?

Paul CarreauAnalyst IMay 24, 2011

BIRMINGHAM, AL - MARCH 13:  Danica Patrick, driver of the #7 Andretti Motorsport Team GoDaddy.com Dallara Honda poses during the IRL Indy Car Series Media Day at Barber Motorsports Park on March 13, 2011 in Birmingham, Alabama.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

Sources are indicating that Danica Patrick is working on a plan that would allow her to run a full season in the NASCAR Nationwide Series in 2012. Under this plan, she would also run a select few races in the Sprint Cup Series before making the jump to full time in the Sprint Cup in 2013.

From a public relations standpoint, this would be great news for NASCAR. It is obvious that they love the exposure that Patrick brings to the series and her presence would do nothing but increase the television ratings and revenue for the Nationwide Series.

From a competition standpoint, I think it makes a lot of sense for Patrick as well. Let's face facts, thus far, her stock car career has been mediocre at best.

In 17 career starts, Patrick has just one top-10 finish. She has only posted four finishes inside the top-20. But, in her defense, the few starts she has made thus far in 2011 have been much more successful than nearly everything she did in the Nationwide Series in 2010.

Patrick has had a fairly successful career driving Indy cars. In 102 starts, she has one victory, but has posted a top-10 finish in 55 races. Driving a stock car is far different than an open wheel car and, if she wants to flourish as stock car driver, she needs as much experience as she can get.

While there is nothing wrong with wanting to compete full time in the Indy car series while also learning the ropes of the stock cars, I think all the time off from stock cars really impedes her learning progress, so just the fact that she is talking about full time next season is a great step.

There is no doubt that if put in just the right situation, Patrick can compete at a very high level in NASCAR. So the sooner she begins to make it her primary focus, the sooner the results will really start coming around.

Patrick's contract with Andretti Autosport in the Indycar Series, expires at the end of the year, making the move to NASCAR all the more likely.

It is also assumed that her current sponsor in both series, GoDaddy.com, would remain with her if she were to make the full time jump to NASCAR.

Her contract with JR Motorsports, which is owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr., and for whom Patrick has driven all of her Nationwide Series races for, is also up at the end of the season.

There is no denying that if she plans to make the full time jump to NASCAR, Patrick would instantly become the hottest free agent on the market due in large part to her marketability both on and off the race track.

What the future for Patrick in NASCAR will be remains to be seen, but the sooner she makes stock cars her primary focus, the sooner she will be making even more history for the entire racing world.