Danica Patrick: Looking for Success, but Where?

Sandra MacWattersCorrespondent IMarch 16, 2010

LEEDS, AL - FEBRUARY 25:  Danica Patrick sits in her #7 Andretti Autosport Go Daddy.com Honda Dallara  during the IRL Indy Car Series  Spring Testing at Barber Motorsports Park on February 25, 2009 in Leeds, Alabama.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

Danica Patrick departed the media-driven attention afforded to her with the NASCAR Nationwide Series in order to return to the Izod IndyCar Series this past weekend.

Her participation in the race at Sao Paulo, Brazil was less than stellar.

Danica-mania is alive and well in the United States, especially among her newly acquired NASCAR fans.

But in Brazil, she was just another driver to the avid fans who are very intense about open-wheeled racing.

The media divas at the Sao Paulo race were Brazil's Ana Beatriz and Switzerland's Simona di Silvestro.

One of the women finished two positions ahead of Patrick, and the other just behind her.

Danica finished 15th out of 24 cars, one lap down. She slid out of bounds at a chicane during the short, but torrential, rain shower.

She returned to the Izod IndyCar series with high expectations, being back in her comfort zone. The finish in Brazil was certainly not what she had hoped for.

Next, she will head to another street circuit in St. Petersburg, Fla., where her best finish was sixth. Danica has her mind set on winning, but the focus of her attention is crossing the finish line first at the Indy 500. She did have a third place finish there in 2009.

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The GoDaddy spokesperson appears to have their support wherever her racing agenda takes her.

A person can only have one foot on the dock and the other in the boat for so long. At some point Danica will have to commit to NASCAR or IndyCar racing.

She will never attain success in the Nationwide or Sprint Cup series as long as she pursues open-wheeled racing.  All she can do is continue to dabble in NASCAR, hoping she finds comfort in a stock car, and hone her skills.

The fact is she does have one IndyCar win, albeit due to gas mileage failure for the leader. Overall, most of her finishes are out of the top five.

Many say she belongs in the cockpit of open-wheeled cars because she appears more suited to that style of racing. 

Her persona, as seen by the public, seems out of place in NASCAR territory. Perhaps that is key to the intrigue which spawns all the media attention.

A lackluster year with IndyCars this year might hasten her return to stock cars on a more regular basis.

She had fun driving the Nationwide car for JR Motorsports. She got considerably more media attention with NASCAR.

For GoDaddy.com, exposure is the name of the game. Where will they get the most bang for the buck?

Mark Martin may or may not continue to race the GoDaddy.com chevrolet in 2011. He may just retire while things are good at Hendrick Motorsports.

The sponsorship will adorn the exterior of someone's Sprint Cup car. Could it be Danica has her eyes set on that ride in 2011 or 2012?

It is quite possible Patrick will find success in her sixth year with the Izod IndyCar Series. Survey says, it is about time she does.

The Andretti Autosport team must be somewhat pleased with her fifth place finish in the championship during 2009. They expect more and deserve more considering the time she has spent racing in this series.

As for her finish in the Brazilian race, she stated, "it was a good first out for us."

Perhaps Danica views finishes out of the top 10 as satisfactory. Her comment sounded very much the same as those after her NASCAR races.

Mediocrity may plague her until she decides which direction she will go to find success.

On June 26, she will return to Nationwide racing in New Hampshire. The time away from a stock car will more than likely have a negative impact her NASCAR performance.

Danica will have to decide which way to go. Will it be NASCAR or IndyCar? She can't perform optimally in both forms of racing at the same time.