According to a published report and perhaps in some minds against all better judgment, it now looks like Danica Patrick will dip her painted toenails into the NASCAR waters to se how warm the water might be.
Patrick, who is expected to re-sign with her current IndyCar team any day, has been rumored and un-rumored for months concerning a foray into the world's largest stock car auto racing sanctioning body. Some felt, and still do, that her NASCAR overtures were merely an attempt to secure a better contract in the IndyCar Series, much like she seemed to do the last time her contract was up for renewal.
The last time the rumors concerning her jump into NASCAR simply died out after her contract was signed, but the latest rumors seem to have grown legs, just like the ones seen by millions in her Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue layout.
According to the rumored plan, Patrick would like to try stock cars by first running in select ARCA then Nationwide and Truck Series events.
One also has to wonder though; will her tentative steps into NASCAR turn out like Indy open wheeler's before her such as Tony Stewart or Juan Pablo Montoya who have been successful and competitive, Sam Hornish Jr. who seems to be slowly coming around, or like Dario Franchitti who left NASCAR after a fruitless effort and headed back to greener Indy pastures.
Patrick has won a single race in the IndyCar Series, while Stewart, Montoya, Hornish and Franchitti won multiple races and championships in all those series.
No doubt Patrick's arrival in NASCAR will be a marketers dream; trumpets would blare and red carpets would be rolled out. The news of her pending NASCAR debut will probably rival the news of Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s move to Hendrick Motorsports.
Patrick will most likely be under a microscope, with her every movement in th
e garage area tracked by hordes of photographers, most of which will be akin to the paparazzi that follow celebrities everywhere. Because it seems that while Patrick began in racing with the best of intentions, once she figured out that she looked good in front of camera, she rode that beauty all the way to the bank. And while no one should bemoan a person making money, it seems that in recent years, Patrick has become less of a racecar driver who happens to be female and more of a woman who happens to be a racecar driver; and more of a celebrity then an athlete.
So what makes Patrick think she could enjoy any type of success given the history of female racers in NASCAR?
Women racers in NASCAR have stretched all the way back to nearly the sports inception. With female drivers such as Sara Christian who entered 7 races in 1949 and 1950, Louise Smith who raced 11 events from 1949-1950 and Ethel Mobley, Ann Bunselmeyer and Ann Chester who ran at least one race in 1949 and 1950.
In the decade of the 1970's there were women such as Janet Guthrie who competed 33 times, Christine Beckers and Lella Lombardi who entered one race in 1977. In the 80's we had Robin McCall and Patty Moise.
In recent times drivers such as Shawna Robinson, Deborah Renshaw, Kelly Sutton, Erin Crocker and Sarah Fisher have all taken their turn in NASCAR.
None of the women mentioned though have ever won race in NASCAR's top three touring series and even their top-10 finishes combined equal less then a dozen.
When all is said and done the odds seem to be against Danica Patrick in terms of her enjoying any kind of success in NASCAR. Of course she's welcome to try and while no one should wish her anything but the best of luck, she should prepare for what could turn out to be a very humbling experience.
source: nascar examiner