don't know which Nationwide races yet - she's still running Indycar full time
Her first appearance will be in the ARCA cars the day before the SB. - at DAYTONA
Danica's first year in a stock car won't be pretty
By Doug Demmons - The Birmingham News
The folks at Lucas Oil must be ecstatic.
Whatever they paid to sponsor the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 season-opening ARCA race at Daytona – it was a bargain.
The Feb. 6 race – one day before the Super Bowl -- was likely to show up as so much ground clutter on the national media radar screen.
But not after Tuesday. Not after Danica’s big announcement – the one she’s been mulling over since last summer.
Danica Patrick is going stock car racing. She’s doing a partial Nationwide Series schedule that will bookend the IZOD IndyCar schedule. That means a few races before the March 14 season opener in Brazil, a few races after the Oct. 2 season-ender at Homestead and perhaps some races in between.
But before she does any of that, Danica will debut at Daytona in the 80-lap, 200-mile ARCA race. Her presence will guarantee a media circus, despite coming on Super Bowl Eve.
But how long is that going to last? How many 27th-place finishes a lap down will it take until the media glare moves on and she’s just another struggling open-wheeler who may or may not make it?
Because that’s what’s going to happen. She’ll stink up the track for a while.
To compound the challenge she faces, she’ll be at a plate track where she’ll not only have to get used to the heavier, harder-to-turn stock car – she’ll also have to figure out drafting pretty darn quick. And she’ll get an introduction to something they don’t do in Indy cars – bump-drafting.
It could get interesting.
“Her first taste of stock car racing won't be easy,” said Alli Owens, one of at least three female drivers likely to be in the ARCA race. “She's going to have to learn the ins and outs of stock car drafting. So much of her success will come down to who's willing to race with her, and that's a matter of earning her competitors' respect. She'll need to show them that she can push them to the front and they'll be happy to return the favor.”
If the first win for a female driver in a NASCAR or ARCA race comes in 2010, it is much more likely to be Owens in Victory Lane than Danica.
Owens will be driving for Venturini Motorsports, one of ARCA’s best teams, in her third season. She finished sixth at Talladega last season.
Or it might be Johanna Long, the 17-year-old phenom from Pensacola who has been dazzling in a super late model at her home track at Five Flags Speedway. Long, who started on the pole Sunday alongside Kyle Busch in the Snowball Derby, will drive an ARCA schedule for D’Hondt Motorsports in 2010.
But Owens and Long aren’t GoDaddy girls. And they haven’t posed for SI’s swimsuit edition. And they don’t have a “brand.”
And they won’t be featured in racy Super Bowl commercials.
Danica has all that, plus the only win by a female driver in a major open-wheel series, plus Tony Eury Jr. as her crew chief.
And she’s got guts. She’s putting a lot on the line to compete in a series where she has zero experience. If she flops, her “brand” could suffer greatly.
She has a ton of driving talent, enough to eventually win a NASCAR race. But like Scott Speed in 2009 and Sam Hornish Jr. in 2008 it’s going to be a rugged learning process.