Tweet This: Danica Patrick Needs to Bring Success
It’s amazing how winning can make people shut up about the controversial things that you have said.
Or in this case tweeted.
Last week, Brad Keselowski, NASCAR’s hottest driver, took to Twitter to share his thoughts on Danica Patrick. Patrick had announced earlier in the week that she was bringing her talents to NASCAR full time, indicating that she will be running a full Nationwide Series with JR Motorsports and make some forays into Sprint Cup with Stewart-Haas Racing.
From Keselowski’s tweets: “All that said, her assent (sic) up the ladder of the sport thru various branding ‘techniques’ (swimsuit ads etc) only serves to undermine the … future credibility of female racers who wish to make it based on skill, mental toughness and a never give up attitude. That to me is wrong. Essentially, she has opened a pandoras (sic) box for all female racers. If she doesn’t succeed, no female will get the chance for years to come.”
While everybody else was jubilant over Danica’s announcement, which was all kinds of anti-climatic because it has been all but official for a month, I am inclined to agree with Keselowski.
It has been 10 years since Shawna Robinson was the last woman to compete in a Sprint Cup race. Before Robinson, a woman hadn’t competed in a NASCAR Cup race since 1989 when Patty Moise raced. There just aren’t all that many opportunities for female drivers in NASCAR’s top level.
Having been around the Rockingham Speedway for the last three years, I have seen a number of female drivers competing in the ARCA Series and the UARA Late Models. Some of them have been very, very good. Some were as bad as the young guys that have destroyed perfectly good race cars at the track.
Keselowski is right, their futures depend on how well Danica makes a go of NASCAR over the next few years. Despite her two part-time seasons, she still has a very steep learning curve running a Nationwide season that is much longer than the Indy Racing League (IRL) schedule.
Let’s not forget that we are still talking about someone who has only one win in the IRL. Danica is a marketing phenom, not a racing phenom. She can sell herself well. And fortunately for her career, sponsors are buying. Some of those coming behind her won’t have that luxury. They will have to do it on their driving merit without GoDaddy.com money backing them.
If Danica can’t be successful, sponsors are going to ask what chance these other women have at being successful. Most don’t have the time nor the money nor the inclination to get involved in long projects that don’t produce results.
I say all that to say all this: I hope my fears and Brad Keselowski’s fear become moot points. I hope Danica is successful as all get-out in NASCAR. I hope she opens the flood gates for women in NASCAR. Like I said, I’ve seen some good ones in ARCA and Late Models.
But they need doors that easily open. Not ones that are bolted shut.
I’d like to see a woman tweet some controversial things, then make us all forget about it with a win.
Contact Andy Cagle at email@example.com.
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