NASCAR driver, Danica Patrick, has been in the headlines recently for becoming the first woman to secure pole position in NASCAR Sprint Cup history. With so much attention - and praise - being heaped her way, questions on whether she could be successful in Formula One are being floated.
But the consensus among people in F1 seems to believe that Danica Patrick isn’t good enough to compete at their level. One voice that shared his opinion on Danica’s chances of success should she race in Formula One was Dr. Helmut Marko, the driver manager at Red Bull, who above all else, questioned her credentials. "You have to look at Danica’s results in the road races," he said. "It’s not enough."
"We are looking for drivers based on performance, not by quota," Marko added.
Triple world champion and Mercedes chairman, Niki Lauda, also weighed in and was a little more diplomatic about his answer, saying that it wasn’t so much Danica Patrick’s skill set, but more about the technical level of Formula One and how U.S. drivers wouldn’t be able to cope with the technical side of F1 in general.
"The last American who had success in Europe was Mario Andretti — and that was in my day!" exclaimed the 63-year-old.
Lauda, however, wasn’t closing the door on a female driver racing in Formula One, saying that they should get a chance if they have the kind of skills to allow them to be successful in the series. If for nothing else, having a female on the F1 grid will boost the sport’s popularity exponentially. Lauda was even quoted by the Bild daily saying that "if we could get a woman into the top six, you would immediately have twice as many fans in front of the TV".
"For ten years," Lauda added, "I’ve told Bernie Ecclestone he’s dopey for not getting a woman into Formula One."
But, at least as far as the F1 folks opine, that ’woman’ isn’t Danica Patrick.
The wonderful Danica Patrick made headlines the other day when sheouted herself as dating a fellow rookie in the Sprint Cup Series and now she has made headlines again. This time around, it is less gossip-like and more racing related, as she has become the first woman to ever win the pole position in NASCAR Sprint Cup history.
The closest woman to her new record was Janet Guthrie, who won the ninth starting position twice in her racing career. That’s a pretty significant jump in starting slots, so our hats go off to her.
Additionally, Patrick became the first Sprint Cup rookie driver to win the pole at the Daytona 500 since Jimmie Johnson accomplished the task back in the 2002 season. These accolades pile on top of Patrick becoming only the second woman driver to ever win pole position in NASCAR, which she accomplished in the NASCAR Nationwide Series last year.
Click past the jump to read NASCAR’s press release
Racing Queen and GoDaddy spokeswoman, Danica Patrick, recently announced that she was divorcing her husband of seven years because their marriage was ’’irretrievably broken,” then it slowly emerged that she was dating fellow driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Patrick finally chose to disclose the details of the relationship to the press, so that the couple could “be open about their relationship.” In the process, she officially broke the hearts of many of her male fans – our words, not hers.
Now that the relationship is open we will focus on one weird aspect in this budding relationship. Both Danica and her 25-year-old boyfriend are rookies in this year’s Sprint Cup Championship. This means that they will not only race against one another, but they will also be competing for the Sprint Cup “Rookie of the Year” award.
We can’t help but wonder if this competition may spill over into their personal lives, especially if one should put the other into the wall at some point or walk away with a low-margin victory in the running for said award.
Either way, Stenhouse is a lucky man, and we’ll be here to catch the wonderful Danica should things fall apart.
Danica Patrick hit the wall hard during the very last lap of Thursday’s first qualifying race for the Daytona 500. She was holding the number ten spot with two corners to go when Aric Almirola’s Ford veered left into her No.10 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, sending her sliding to the inside wall. She hit the wall so hard that her car briefly left the ground.
“It felt pretty big,” Patrick said. “I don’t know what it looked like, but it felt pretty big.”
“It happened really quick,” she said. “When it gets down to the end of the race, everybody’s on each other’s doors really close. That’s what happens. Unfortunately, I was part of it.”
“We were looking to finish honestly,” Patrick said. “I felt comfortable. It was just a matter of getting into the right line with the right people. I’m just bummed out. We only had two corners to go.”
She climbed out of the wreckage uninjured, thanks in part to her taking her hands off the steering wheel just before impact. Wrist and hand injuries are very common in NASCAR when a driver crashes while tightly gripping the wheel. Despite the crash, Patrick still finished in 16th position.
In some good news, Danica returned to Daytona International Speedway on Friday in her backup car and won the pole position for Saturday’s Nationwide race. This makes her only the second woman to ever win a pole in NASCAR’s 64-year history. Patrick started her NASCAR Sprint Cup debut in 29th position at the Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 26.
UPDATE 02/27/2012: For the first time in 54 years, the Daytona 500 has been postponed due to some scattered showers that moved in around race time. The race was supposed to be moved to today at noon, but the weatherman put a stop to that as well. If rain doesn’t get in the way again, the Daytona 500 will take place tonight at 7pm ET.
Since 1911 when the first race was held, the Indianapolis 500 has been an event dominated by men. For the first few decades this was a given, considering women were not allowed to participate. It wasn’t until 1971 that a female reporter was even allowed in the pit crew and a female racer was unheard of until 1977 when Janet Guthrie qualified for the event. Female participation has come a little ways since then with eight women successfully qualifying and as it turns out, the most popular Indy 500 drivers as ranked by Google are actually women.
Brazilian racing driver, Ana Beatriz, comes in ranked at number four with 110,000 hits in one month, followed by Swiss race car driver, Simona de Silvestro with 165,000 hits. American auto racing driver, Danica Patrick, surprisingly falls in second place with 246,000, while Venezuelan race car driver, Milka Duno heads the pack by a long shot of 550,000 hits per month.
So even though the record for most victories is still tied up by three men (A.J. Foyt, Al Unser, and Rick Mears have each won four), women are joining in on the fun. Once they catch up with the 66 year head start given to the men, maybe they’ll earn a few records of their own. They are definitely on their way.
Until then, Drivers, Start Your Engines!
Danica Patrick’s stock car racing career got off to a roaring start after she finished sixth in her inaugural race at the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200. While not exactly a NASCAR race, the results of the 80-lap ARCA race showed that Danica isn’t just a novelty item thrown into the NASCAR circus to drum up interest for the mainstream audience.
Danica’s debut at NASCAR didn’t end too well, though - she crashed out - but what was important was that she proved that she what it took to go fender-to-fender with the boys and add that to her immense popularity and you have someone companies are salivating to have their products attached to her.
Fittingly, one of the first companies to jump the Danica sponsorship bandwagon in NASCAR is Hot Wheels, a brand that’s famous for their, well, toy cars.
In addition to having their logo emblazoned on her overalls and her No. 7 Andretti Autosport car, Danica will also receive her own Hot Wheels car, which is being ingeniously labeled as the ’Danicar’, making her the first celebrity to have her own Hot Wheels car, which, incidentally, she co-designed.
Although she’s already one of the most bankable celebrity endorsers in sports today, there’s no telling how much more success Danica Patrick will have in stock car racing after her decorated career in open-wheel racing. But if she continues to pile up results like her finish at the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200, then you can expect more companies to follow in Hot Wheels’ lead.
Press Release after the jump
For the longest time, NASCAR has tried to attract a bigger demographic to its sport but while some of their drivers s have their own following, there’s not a lot of them in the sport that can draw the mainstream audience.
That of course has changed now that Danica Patrick is headed to NASCAR in 2010. According to the Associated Press, the highly-popular IRL driver has reached a deal with JM Motorsports to be one of their drivers.
Although no announcements have been made, a source said that Patrick is scheduled to participate in some races for next year’s Nationwide Series while splitting time with her forays in the IRL with Andretti Autosport.
Whatever schedule Danica Patrick does have in NASCAR next year, the sport should nevertheless be grateful to have somebody like Patrick – a proven commodity both on and off the track – on its fold.
Maybe then, the sport can attract a whole new demographic of fans altogether.
Photo courtesy of IRL.
The IndyCar Series driver Danica Patrick makes an appearance with Nascar driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. in a video for the new Jay-Z single Show Me What You Got.
The opening scene of the four-minute James Bond-inspired video shows Patrick in a Pagani Zonda-S racing against Jay-Z and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in a Ferrari F430. The video, directed by F. Gary Gray, premiered Oct. 16 on MTV and is also featured in a new ad campaign for Budweiser Select.
“Show Me What You Got” marks Jay-Z’s first single (...)