Danica Patrick is coming to NASCAR, announcing a deal on Tuesday to drive a limited Nationwide event schedule for JR Motorsports in 2010.
The deal joins the two most marketable drivers in racing, Patrick and Dale Earnhardt Jr. JR Motorsports is owned by Dale Jr. and his sister Kelley along with Hendrick Motorsports head Rick Hendrick.
Perhaps the most difficult part of the whole deal for Patrick will be the transitioning back and forth between driving stock cars and driving Indy cars for Andretti Autosports in the same season.
Former Indy-car driver Sam Hornish Jr. was the last driver to attempt a limited NASCAR schedule during a season when driving a full IndyCar circuit. Hornish Jr. made the jump full-time to Sprint Cup in 2008, but he has yet to enjoy anywhere near the success he had in IndyCar where he won 19 races in 116 starts.
Patrick, in her five-year IndyCar career, has won one race. Is it even possible for her to be successful in NASCAR, especially when compared to the more talented Hornish Jr. or other former Indy drivers Juan Pablo Montoya or Tony Stewart?
Well, if you measure success in wins, it's not likely Patrick will be winning any Nationwide races anytime soon.
If however, you measure success in terms of dollars and marketability, Patrick will be a huge success. In fact, her new boss Dale Jr. has already proved that you don't have to be a winner in the sport to be the most sought after driver from a marketing perspective.
Patrick, who drives an IndyCar sponsored by Go Daddy and Boost Mobile, will also have Go Daddy on the hood in Nationwide events. Patrick has been a marketing juggernaut for both companies and she will most certainly provide Boost's parent company Sprint, a huge marketing advantage with their NASCAR Cup sponsorship in 2010.
She may never win a race in Nationwide, or subsequently in Sprint Cup, but Danica Patrick will undoubtedly be successful in bringing more fans to the track on race day.
And when it comes down to it, more fans are what NASCAR needs, and that's what they're going to get with Patrick.