Danica Patrick: Different Series, Same Old…

If Patrick and Tony Stewart can't bring the level of sponsorship to the team they're used to seeing, it could spell trouble.

If Patrick and Tony Stewart can’t bring the level of sponsorship to the team they’re used to seeing, it could spell trouble.

No one can say with authority that Danica Patrick isn’t a worthy professional racing driver, she is.

However, it can be said that she appeared in her early racing career as a potential super competitor turned mediocre by today’s standards.

Auto racing as an endeavor to master machinery under stress is agnostic to color, race, creed or gender. It doesn’t care. The bottom line is all that counts.

Unfortunately her bottom line has been more monetary than on track results.

GoDaddy ultimately took her in as a potential historical racing figure in which to base it’s main marketing focus. Now, after a very long stint as her primary sponsor, they are leaving.

The question now remains: Will Danica Patrick be able to move up in stature in NASCAR or slowly grind her way back down the grid?

As it stands she shows brief flashes of skill on par with her main competitors, her teammates at Stewart-Haas Racing, but hasn’t delivered on-track as hoped. As long as the money train was in play, she was very relevant to both IndyCar and NASCAR.

In IndyCar she won one race. In virtually all of the lower formulas of her racing after Formula Ford, she was merely a few steps above average.

What she has excelled at is marketing. Other than the Earnhardt clan she may be the most marketable driver to have driven in either series.

Racing teams, racing series and corporations have flocked to her, used what they needed and either they moved on or she did. Ask Bobby Rahal how he feels.

Could GoDaddy take her back to Europe and into the WEC?

Could GoDaddy take her back to Europe and into the WEC?

Whatever the reasons, it has to be understood that all is fair in ‘Love, War and Racing’. She used whatever she needed to get where she is and no one can take that from her or fault her.

What can be taken from her is that if she can’t produce another sponsor at GoDaddy’s level, she will move further down the grid. Stewart Haas didn’t hire her for her driving prowess. Don’t be fooled into thinking that the money doesn’t get spread around the SHR camp.

However you look at it, she won’t see equipment like she presently enjoys should SHR decide to cut her loose.

I’ve no doubt that she will land on her feet, but unless she can show up with the magic funding number, she won’t get another chance. She’ll be the next single car team driver du jour.

Should Patrick fail to produce the dollars required to keep her on a top team, she may very well do herself a favor and move to a sports car endurance series such as the Tudor series or even the World Endurance Championship.

GoDaddy is on record as saying they want a more global marketing presence, which would make WEC sense, but that may not include Danica Patrick.

The bottom line? When you run out of cash, they take you out of the game.

 

Patrick Wins in Tommy Baldwin NASCAR Deal, Barrichello Considering IndyCar, Courtney Force

Danica Patrick benefitted from the points deal made between Stewart-Haas and Tommy Baldwin Racing. Baldwin gets technical and personnel help and Danica gets the points from the #36 car. Rubens Barrichello is considering a move to IndyCar. Barrichello has just left Williams Formula One. Courtney Force, daughter of John Force, will make her debut in Funny Cars in February in Pomona, California. Courtney Force says she’s ready.

Loudon Cup Race and Waltrip Sues Williams F1

The Cup race at Loudon, NH yesterday produced a badly needed win for Ryan Newman. The competition has tightened. Michael Waltrip has filed suit against Williams F1 Engineering for hiring away Mike Coughlan, the designer caught up in the F1 espionage scandal.

Numbers Tell Us The Competition Ain’t Bad, For Now

As the 2011 season heads into Texas Motor Speedway for the running of the Samsung Mobile 500 tonight it is interesting to note how, competition-wise, the preceding six races have provided excellent storylines.

This is NASCAR’s opinion, you understand, not mine – but I must say that I agree with it.

“Storylines” might be the wrong word here. Let’s just say that what has transpired so far are simply facts that deserve our attention.

Why, you might ask. It’s because some of what we might have expected so far this season has not happened – and some of what we did not, in many ways, has.

I use as evidence of all this information provided by NASCAR; information that puts its competition in a good light. But when it comes to competition, the sanctioning body is all about promoting the quality therein whenever possible – which is its job, after all.

The facts and figures are accurate. They are not manipulated. They are what they are, and, to be honest, they are intriguing.

We’re told that two of last year’s top winners, Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson, remain winless going into Texas. I’m not sure about you, but I’m one of those who thought either one of them would have been victorious by now. Heck, if nothing else, they were the hands-down favorites at Martinsville.

And you knew that, didn’t you?

Interestingly, lead-change records have fallen in three of the six Sprint Cup races so far, at Daytona, Phoenix and Martinsville.

There has been, NASCAR tells us, an average of 31.5 lead changes per race, the most after six events in series history.

Now I would be one of the first to say this is nothing but the result of racing circumstances. But I would quickly add that races that have produced record lead changes at such a high average are, if not great, certainly compelling.

After all, which race is better – one in which several drivers swap the lead or one in which a driver dominates to the point of boredom? I think you know.

NASCAR tells us that, through six races, there has been an average of 13 leaders per race, the most in series history.

Again I would say this is the result of circumstances. But I would also say that, as far as fan and media appeal, it beats the hell out of anything else.

We know that prior to Kevin Harvick’s win at Martinsville, his second in a row, there were five different winners in the first five races of the season. It’s the first time that’s happened since 2005.

Once more, it’s all about circumstances.

But then, given what has happened so far, consider this: You tell me, if you like real competition, what is more appealing – that one or two drivers dominate or that several win – and in some cases we are ultimately greatly surprised when they do?

Case in point: Face it, when Trevor Bayne and Wood Brothers Racing won the Daytona 500 was that not a big, pleasant surprise that ultimately captured national attention?

Headed into Texas, seven different teams occupied the top seven positions in the point standings. They were Joe Gibbs Racing, Roush Fenway Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, Penske Racing, Richard Childress Racing, Stewart Haas Racing and Chip Ganassi Racing.

Hey, I like it. To me it’s a more intriguing scenario than oh, say, for Roush to have four teams among the top seven and Hendrick the other three – unless you’re a big fan of either team, or both.

Finally, NASCAR pointed out that the top four drivers in the point standings all run different manufacturers.

If I had to guess, the sanctioning body revels in this statistic more than any other. It’s proof, somewhat, that its ongoing efforts to create a level playing field for all its participating manufacturers are paying off – for now, anyway.

I know all of this is NASCAR tooting its own horn. But why not? There have been seasons in the past when it didn’t have a horn to toot.

Tooting aside, the numbers do tell us the competition in NASCAR, so far, ain’t been bad at all.

Starting at Texas tonight, we’ll see if stays the same, gets better or gets worse.

 

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