Indy hottie Danica Patrick might be taking her show to NASCAR next season, if her family gets its way.
Danica Patrick’s father is exploring the possibility of the popular Indy Racing League driver moving to NASCAR as soon as next year, the Orlando Sentinel reported Monday. The Sentinel reported that T.J. Patrick, who has managed Danica Patrick’s career since childhood, was in exploratory talks with some NASCAR teams at Chicagoland Speedway on Sunday. “I’m trying to get her here [into NASCAR],” T.J. Patrick told the Sentinel.
T.J. and Bev Patrick, who formerly lived in Roscoe, Ill., attended NASCAR’s USG Sheetrock 400 because “we’ve had some inquiries” from NASCAR teams, T.J. Patrick told the newspaper. The Sentinel reported the couple was in the Nextel Cup garage area as guests of Roush Racing, which fields drivers Mark Martin, Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle and Jamie McMurray and runs Fords on the Nextel Cup circuit.
Danica Patrick’s contract with Rahal-Letterman Racing team ends after this season and the Patricks are negotiating with other IRL teams as well as NASCAR teams, the Sentinel reported. The newspaper said team co-owner Bobby Rahal declined comment through a spokesman.
NASCAR is far more popular than Indy these days, so it would seem like a no brainer. John Oreovicz isn’t so sure.
She’d rather be road racing open-wheelers, and short of Formula One — which is an unrealistic goal — the best fit for Danica would seem to be the Champ Car World Series. But the downfall of American open-wheel racing over the past decade has devastated the sponsor market and the money to entice her just isn’t there. Ultimately, money is what it’s all about, which is why T.J. Patrick, Danica’s father and business manager, was hanging around the NASCAR garage area at Chicagoland Speedway over the weekend.
Could Patrick adapt to stock car racing? Absolutely. She wouldn’t have any problems driving the cars, which with power steering and a cushy ride like a Maybach are actually much less physically demanding to drive than an IRL car.
Where I think she would struggle is with the mental grind of racing 38 weekends a year, most of which are spent pounding around unrelentingly similar ovals. And if she’s frustrated running 12th in the IRL, imagine the toll that fighting to make the top 20 every week would take on her psyche.
Only one way to find out. The bottom line, though, is NASCAR’s where it’s at for American racing. She can capitalize on her looks on either circuit but, unless she gets the F-1 gig, she might as well race with the best.
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