Danica Patrick is Coming Back June 26, but Does NASCAR Really Need Her?

Sal Sigala Jr.Senior Analyst IJune 23, 2010

FORT WORTH, TX - JUNE 05:  Danica Patrick, driver of the #7 Team Godaddy.com Andretti Autosport Dallara Honda, is interviewed after her second place finish in the IZOD IndyCar Series Firestone 550k at Texas Motor Speedway June 5, 2010 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
Donald Miralle/Getty Images

What can Danica Patrick possibly bring back to NASCAR after her four-month hiatus to the Indy Racing League, besides another 10 weeks of hearing her fans rant and rave about what a good driver she is?

Without sugarcoating the truth, or trying to pad her stats—which so far this season are nowhere near what her fans say she is capable of—it's time to just lay it all out on the line, and realize that Patrick may be not ready to take on a more tougher form of motorsports.

With NASCAR allowing the drivers to dump one another without any repercussions, she had better be ready to be pushed around since this seems to be the path that NASCAR is willing to take a chance on.

There have only been a couple of weeks that have gone by where one driver didn’t feel it necessary to dump a fellow competitor, and don’t think for a second that teammates are excluded from wearing a bull’s-eye on their backs.

When Patrick left the Nationwide series to go bask in the limelight of what some called a stellar IRL career, all that happened was she fell deeper into an abyss that she alone created with no one to blame except herself.

Not only has she fallen way below the expectations that were put on her by the fans, but she also managed to pick up a few more enemies along the way which is not a good sign, especially when you take into account that these drivers who race in the NASCAR series have shown no mercy to one another.

Patrick will be no different than any other rookie on the track, and like most rookies she will be tested by other drivers to see how much beating and banging she will take.

All you have to do is look at the way the drivers are treating Logano on the cup side.

Now do actually think the Nationwide drivers are gonna cut her any slack?

What male driver wants to be shown up by an overly hyped woman?

Patrick’s stock in the IRL has quickly gone south, along with her fan base that has already gotten over the novelty of having a swimsuit model racing in the series.

Just this past weekend in Iowa, miss GoDaddy herself was not the center of attention even though she finished in the top 10, and the proof was the almost non-existent camera time which further solidifies the fact that her mediocre racing career is quickly wearing off.

The first sign that Danicamania is running out of gas happened during practice for the Indy 500, when Patrick was subjected to hearing boos from the crowd that at one time would cheer her every move.

She literally threw her team under bus, when she put the blame on them for her poor qualifying result.

The fans are no longer responding to her less than professional antics, and it's no wonder that her team is also showing signs of giving up on her when she stated she doesn’t like racing on road courses.

Adapt should be the mindset of any driver who expects to compete at this high speed game of cat and mouse, and it's obvious she has no concept of the word by not only her complaining, but the poor results that have followed.

It has been reported that her own team is beginning to question her commitment, and if this holds true her career in the IRL could very easily come to an abrupt halt.

Making enemies is not the best path to take, especially when it involves taking cheap shots at your own teammate out on the track, and these types situations can very easily escalate into one driver dumping another just for the sake of revenge.

Patrick tried blocking Kanaan as they were racing down the backstretch at Texas earlier in the month, forcing Kanaan to back off to risk not crashing the car.

Kanaan went to move low on Patrick but she forced him below the white line on the bottom, and Kanaan had to back off to risk not crashing the car.

"I got some unexpected moves from some people and some of the dirtiest moves I've ever seen in my life. But what goes around comes around,” said Kanaan during the post race news conference.

Kanaan also added that, "When your best finish is a second place and you try to take it like a victory, that's what happens. I've won 13 races, I'm pretty confident in what I can do. You want to pull moves like that, that's fine. We have plenty of ovals left."

Kanaan felt that Patrick raced him dirty as her way of saying she didn’t like his comments the week before at Indy, when he told her she needed to change her attitude.

On Sunday both Scott Dixon and Ed Carpenter questioned Patrick’s decisions behind the wheel after the Iowa corn 250.

"She's lucky that's all she got man, she's a menace man," Dixon said when asked about his near brush with trouble by Patrick during the race.

Carpenter also added that, "I just started working with my car, working towards the front but Danica was doing her normal supreme block job. She is the new Scott Sharp of the series as far as I am concerned. That is two races in a row."

Now that Patrick will be back for this Saturday’s race at New Hampshire, let’s take a look for a second at this overly hyped driver’s resume for the 2010 season.

Patrick has led a total of one lap, to go along with her one top-five, and four top-10 finishes in eight starts.

She is currently 11th in points with an average start of 15.2, and a spectacular 10.8 average finish in 1,209 laps that have been run so far in the 2010 IRL season.

On the NASCAR Nationwide side, she has finished outside of the top-30 in all three of her starts, and has an average finish of 34 to go along with an average start of 29.3.

With numbers such as these, where does the logic come from that she has the experience to be successful in the series?

Patrick is not even close to the numbers she put up last season the IRL, where she already has five years of experience.

How quickly we forget that she will be without her high tech steering wheel, and no longer will she be able to rely on her "push to pass" button.

Gone will be her traction control switch, along with the rev limiter to keep her from speeding down pit road.

No more paddle shifter to get through the gears quicker, and the thought of racing with 42 drivers instead of 26, along with limited visibility, will continue to be an issue.

With each finish outside the top-20, it won't be long before NASCAR fans realize the last thing the sport needs is another underachiever on the track.

Patrick is not even close to being a Dario Franchitti, and after struggling in 2008, the 2007 IRL champion went back to his former series and won the 2009 IRL championship.

Juan Montoya who has seven victories in F1, to go along with an Indy 500 victory, and winning the CART championship in 1999 even advised Patrick about competing in both series.

“I wouldn’t do it because they drive so different. You’re going to get comfortable in one thing and then you’re going to make it to the other thing, and every time it’s going to be like night and day.”

Even Patrick herself admitted she doesn’t know how much the car should move in the corners—how loose is too loose?

The cars are so technical that small changes can make a big difference.

With no telemetry in stock cars to help relay what the car is doing like in the IRL, Patrick will have to diagnose problems quickly, and hope she gets it right within the three or four pit stops during the course of a Nationwide race depending on how many yellows there are.

Patrick added that, “I'm nervous because it's new and there's so much to learn about the way a race goes, how the race kind of plays out normally.”

Patrick also added that, “The yellow flags and the pit stops and how the car changes over a fuel run and how the tires change and there's just so much that I'm unfamiliar with.”

Is this the type of driver that NASCAR is looking for to help boost its ratings?

Swimsuits and good looks will only go so far, and then comes the time to see some results.

It only took five years for the IRL fans to realize that she was nothing more than another pretty face to look at.

How long before NASCAR fans realize the same thing?


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