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ICN Editorial: Survival after Danica

by
Kyle Lavigne
| Aug 29, 2011

Yes, Danica Patrick is leaving. Possibly the worst kept secret in motorsports was confirmed over the weekend, with Patrick announcing her full-season deal for the 2012 NASCAR Nationwide Series with JR Motorsports and part-time schedule with Stewart Haas Racing in the Sprint Cup Series.

In the end, this outcome was inevitable. Given the inclusion of more road and street courses, a weakness for Patrick, and the nearly all-oval NASCAR scene (plus the obvious revenue she’ll generate), it made sense to move. She conceded as much in a pre-race interview with Versus’ Lindy Thackston. “It definitely played a part in my decision,” she said. “It doesn’t mean I have a don’t have good races and good finishes on road courses, but putting the whole weekend together has been tough. I’ve really struggled in qualifying, I haven’t done a good job, and haven’t put it all together.”

Those within the sport have been respectful of Patrick and what she brought to the series. “Danica enjoyed the most success ever by a female driver in the world of motorsports and was a leading marketing force within IndyCar," said current team Michael Andretti, whom Patrick has raced for since 2007. "I wish her only continued success in her career. I want to thank Danica for her valued time with our team. " 

Randy Bernard, CEO of INDYCAR, also wished her well. “Danica has always been a great ambassador for INDYCAR, and there is no doubt she has left a positive impression on our sport.  She has touched millions of fans and many that were new to motorsports. Danica attracted a fan base that every athlete and sports property in the world would love to have. We should give her a great farewell the rest of this season as she opens a new page in her career and wish her continued success with her new direction."

From the perspective of fans, though, and even a handful of journalists, Patrick’s departure has seen more “ho-hum” and “good riddance.” No longer is Patrick the beloved and charming fresh face she was back in 2005, when the sport had fallen all but completely out of the mainstream and in desperate need of a star that could capture public interest.

The once refreshing and young dynamo began to wear thin on many as her on-track performance failed to match her off-track hype and attention. Her lone victory came in a fuel mileage derby at Twin Ring Motegi on a day in which many of her compatriots were racing in Long Beach (remember that in 2008 there were split races that weekend as the former Champ Car teams raced that series’ “finale”). As a result, several people inside and outside of the business have placed an asterisk next to that victory.

Her performance since then has been up and down. She was inconsistent through the rest of 2008, but did end up sixth in the final standings, and a strong start to the 2009 campaign helped her improve to fifth in that year’s championship. That season, though, showed how much the fanfare had dimmed. Her run to third at the 2009 Indy 500, the best of any woman at the event, seemed almost forgotten in comparison to 2005, and her fifth place standing in the overall season was but a blip on the radar. Her slide then began in 2010, coincidentally when her NASCAR ventures began.

ESPN.com’s John Oreovicz summed up the overall feeling toward her departure in saying that few in the INDYCAR scene will miss her.  And, the fact is, it’s likely true.

There are a number of drivers capable of filling the media void that Patrick is leaving. Dario Franchitti, Will Power, and Scott Dixon are the sport’s thoroughbreds, the top tier drivers in the series (with Franchitti on the cusp of potentially being an all-time great). Young lions Marco Andretti, Graham Rahal, J.R. Hildebrand, and James Hinchcliffe lead a crop of up and coming drivers into the future. Plus, veterans like Oriol Servia, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Helio Castroneves, Ryan Briscoe, Alex Tagliani, Tony Kanaan, and Dan Wheldon (when he competes that is) remain fan favorites and contenders each week. Even the Firestone Indy Lights appears to have a young of star in the making, with Josef Newgarden bullying his way through the series at the moment.

What’s more, Andretti Autosport is keeping Godaddy.com as a sponsor and partner, meaning that her seat won’t simply disappear. Suddenly, one of the premier teams has a car that is seemingly up for grabs, giving us a nice silly season story as the offseason approaches.

And, as far as females go, Simona de Silvestro had already displaced Danica Patrick as the sport’s favorite woman, in some circles, with her friendly nature outside of the cockpit and bulldog tenacity once behind the wheel, as displayed several times in her still budding career. And, Sarah Fisher continues to be a fan favorite, though now as an owner, as her team improves.

Four years ago, Danica Patrick’s exit from INDYCAR could have been crippling. Now, the sport is in much better shape and her move to NASCAR is met with a hint of indifference. INDYCAR can survive without her.

 

10 Comments

  1. 1 Bones 13 Nov
    No more s***. All posts of this qaulity from now on
  2. 2 Bert 05 Nov
    I found myself nodding my nogign all the way through.
  3. 3 Shawn Kendall 03 Sep

    Thanks Joe

    Just wanted to further comment on the "attitude"  I follow the series around attending the races in all of the midwest venues and have NEVER been treated poorly.  I feel the only people who seem to have an issue with her attitude are the people that think their shit don't stink and everything should revolve around them. My battery is dying... I'll be right back

  4. 4 Joe Bohannon 03 Sep
    A lot of the critisim I have heard of Danica is about her attitude. But look at what she has to put up with every race. She gets at least 10 times as much scrutiny as any other driver. I have been to a few of the races. Watch where the fans go.I do not doubt that some of the other drivers get sick of this but it is what it is. At least with Danica you know where you stand with her. You can almost see it on her face every race what is on her mind. She probably would not be a good poker player. But what about some of the other drivers. Dario, Hunter Reay, Marco, even Scott Dixon seem to be the most genuine race in and race out. But Helio and Kanan seem to say one thing and mean the other. They try to come off as the nicest guys around but then they will say or do something that proves otherwise. Kanan is especially bad about this. He needs to take most of the blame for not being a good leader at Andretti. And I cannot believe Helio came to our country to make money and wouldn't even pay his taxes !! I agree with the comments of Shawn. Dancia would have had more wins but several things went against her. Shortly after she came into the league it got much more competitive, more road races, The Andretti team went into a slump and did not compete well. And the other 2 winning teams just dominated for a while. And they must know that all the marketing money she brought in surely helped them. I am just sorry she is leaving and I really doubt they will ever replace her in this league. I hope she runs the 500.
  5. 5 Shawn Kendall 03 Sep
    Yea This is pretty bad.  I am an avid fan of INDYCAR and Danica Patrick, all she has accomplished in the short time that she has been with the sport.  In a time where it is tough to even make the front of the pack and on top of that Andretti Autosport, (and mind you I love my team just as well), but they have not performed where they used to.  You can't say it is a lack of talent because "the great" Tony Kanaan couldnt get them up there like they used to be either.  Look at Helio, Ryan Briscoe, Tony Kanaan, and I could go on...  They aren't getting the wins either.  times have changed in our sport.  The cars are maxed. . . I would have like to see her run next season in the 2012 design and see what we would get out of her.  She has proven beyond a doubt to me that she deserves her seat in the car and if we would have given her winning setups I think she would have found it harder to leave a WINNING race team!  Shame on INDYCAR for posting a trashy edit like this. How big was that fanbase she brought?  How much revenue did she and her marketing team bring in?  Good luck filling the void she leaves behind with drivers like Simona, Ana, Pippa even. . . Simona can't get into the country for races and when she is on track doing well, she caused the cautions that got her there: Ana. . .  has yet to show me anything remarkable and Pippa can't get a ride yet!  How's that marketing strategy going?
  6. 6 Joe Bohannon 02 Sep
    Paul's comment makes my point about Danica's racing talent exactly. He talks about all his favorites are the macho tough guys and here is this young woman that has raced side by side with the best there is for over 5 years. Yes, she has only 1 win but except for 3 or 4 guys that is true of all the racers in the last 5 years. I am a man and I do like looking at her pictures in a bikini but I truly admire her courage, determination, focus and just plain old guts. As she once said she may not have balls but she has a hell of a set of ovaries. I have never raced cars but can you imagine the guts it takes to go inches away from some other person who wants to win as bad as you do at 225 miles an hour. I think one day there may be a women that wins more races but this kid set the stage for young girls to give it a try. My guess is many of the other Indy car drivers may not like all the publicity she gets, and they may not even like her personally but they must respect what she tried to do on the track. I hope some of them speak up before she leave and let that be known. It will make me at least think more of the league and the other drivers. Give her a break !!
  7. 7 paul comerford 02 Sep
    Danica is product of marketing , kind of like the IndyCar version of  Kim Kardashion !  She has a few pieces for her highlite reel and a few finishes that are noteable but she was put in most of those situations by race strategies and circumstances , she never ever out drove anyone except at Indianapolis .  The flip side is she is a competitive ,  she understands the marketing side of the sport and has been willing to give her sponsors a highly visible spokesperson .  She has ignored her detractors and critics by being focused on what is best for DP thats something up and coming sports personalities should take note of .  As for her abilities behind the wheel ?  they might be secondary to her job as an ambassador and visible icon of  motor sports in general .  I'm a reluctant Danica fan , my favorites behind the wheel have always been macho , rough and tumble individuals , AJ , The Unsers , Mears , Cale Yarborough , ect.  ect.  DP's move to NASCAR reflects  on IndyCar ,  The talking heads will mention her former IndyCar career . That PUB is worth a million bucks .  
  8. 8 Joe Bohannon 01 Sep
    In response to the comment by Brenda, Why would you think Danica Patrick is overated. She has become the first women to ever be able to really compete with the boys and she has done that well. Many think you have to count the wins to tell how great a driver is. But I believe it is about overcoming adversity and doing the best you can. If racing is as physically demanding as many say it is, think of the disadvantage her small frame puts her in. My favorite driver of all time was a driver of the past whose name was Loyd Ruby. He was known as the greatest driver who never won the 500. He will always be my favorite. Now come on do you really think Danica Patrick is selling her body for money! I do not know what sheltered environment you live in but we do have young women in this world who do sell their bodies for money(most because they think they do not have a choice) and Dancia is not one of them.  If you are as self righteous as you sound why don't you try helping some of them. At least Danica by her actions lets young women know that if you work hard enough you can do anything in this world. I have been to the races and the smile I see on the faces of the young girls and boys when they meet her is just unbelievable. As for role models what about the gestures Will Power made on national TV. I know he was upset be he had no excuses. Talk about that. Finally the silliest thing you said was Dancia "dirtying" Nascar by her presence. I don't know how many Nascar races you have been too but if you go up into the stands you will see more skin, booze, and profanity than you can imagine. It does not bother me unless the profanity gets to bad around children. Now get off your ivory tower and do some soul searching and figure out why you REALLY do not like Dancia Patrick.
  9. 9 Brenda Clem 01 Sep

    I agree with the article and see no reason why it should not have been written/posted, even though Danica hasn't left yet.  She is overrated (seriously, leaving Indy to go to Nascar because she can't seem to get better on the road courses and with Nascar, she'll mostly only have to deal with ovals ... a truly good driver can adapt and become better at any type of track) and overhyped (Indy won't die without her any more than Nascar would die without Jr).  I've never liked her, seeing her ill treatment of her teammates and her attitude.  I also think she's a horrid role model for girls (do parents really want their daughters modeling themselves after a woman who basically sold her body for money ... Go Daddy commercials ... I don't know any other driver who strips for their job like that).  Good riddance to her, just sorry she's going to be dirtying my Nascar with her presence ... bad enough having to hear about Jr all the time ... but will be nice that I won't have to deal with her presence in both series.

     Thank you for your honesty in telling fans what many of us already knew ... Danica isn't going to be missed as much as some ppl would like to believe she will be.

  10. 10 Joe Bohannon 31 Aug

    How dare you guys put something like this on your website after all she has done for your league. It sums up to me why she is leaviing. You as league officials and those other drivers did not mind taking all she brought to the league, but did not give her much in return. As an outsider looking in let me make it easy for you. Those extremely boring road races are not want we in America enjoy. Just look at the huge # of foreign drivers as compared to when I was young and loved watching the open wheel racing in America. Now here is another plain as day fact you all seem to be somehow missing. In the last 5 years only 3 or 4 drivers have won nearly all the races. Do you not understand that spells doom for your league. It is too late now. And contrary to what the article said all of those drivers put together will not take the place of Danica. She was a great interest to your league that you let get away. I am not on the inside but many of us believe she would have never left open car racing if she was not driven away by the direction the league has gone. Yes, she was a temperamental  young women. But she did the best she could trying to stand shoulder to shoulder with all the other drivers despite her 105 lb. or whatever body. She has my full admiration and following for that. As for the league I plan to watch the rest of the races she is in and then leave. I urge you not to start putting these kind of articles on your site even before she is gone. You will really be making a fool of yourself and shooting yourselves in the foot at the same time.

     

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