It's an all-girls assault on stock car racing
Danica Patrick may be getting the majority of media attention during the ARCA test at Daytona International Speedway, but a close look at the entry list shows 10 women drivers getting track time.
|Milka Duna waves for the AR1.com cameras|
"Most of the media here, the only female they will talk to is Danica, and I have total respect for her," driver Leilani Münter said. "She's a great girl and (I'm) happy to see her succeed, but there are other girls in the garage hoping to make it."
Münter, 33, is driving the No. 59 Mark Gibson Racing Dodge in this test as a prep for the Feb. 6 Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200. Gibson grew up here. He fields a team out of Georgia.
"When I got some funding, I gave Mark a call and his car was still available and here we are," Münter said.
The other female drivers on the ARCA entry list are Alli Owens, Milka Duno, Jennifer Jo Cobb, Michelle Thoriault, Jill George, Alison MacLoud and Amber and Angela Cope.
The Copes are the 26-year-old twin nieces of 1990 Daytona 500 winner Derrike Cope. They are sharing the No. 73 Dodge for this test, but don't plan to compete in the ARCA race here.
"This is a male-dominated sport and it's tough for women," Angela Cope said. "I think Danica will do really well. I think she will adapt very quickly to stock cars. We wish her the best."
"I think it will open up opportunities for women," Amber Cope said. "She is a very remarkable woman. I think she'll do very well in NASCAR."
Patrick, 27, not only has top equipment but a big-dollar sponsor that will fund her for nearly 30 races the next two seasons.
"I'm going to face those struggles of getting sponsors or full-time opportunities just as I always have," Cobb said. "I'm going to keep working on it. I found a bit of a breakthrough this year and it looks like other women have found something or they wouldn't be here."
Owens, the South Daytona driver who earned outside pole honors for last year's ARCA race here, said Patrick's presence is a double-edge sword.
"Obviously, it will help us, because there's so much media attention for an ARCA test," Owens said.
"Being in the sport is a huge responsibility because the ground is so fresh for females," she said. "Danica has to be fully focused. She has a responsibility that I wish I had at the present time. I hope she understands what she's representing." Daytona Beach News Journal