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Danica expected to boost floundering NASCAR
Jerry Gappens sees the return of Danica Patrick to NASCAR next week as a marketing bonanza. So, in grand summer tradition, why not treat it like a Hollywood blockbuster?

Welcome to what Gappens bills as "D-Day," his track’s slogan for Patrick as she resumes her part-time NASCAR schedule June 26 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in the Nationwide Series. Gappens is general manager at the speedway.

As of this week, ticket sales for the Nationwide race there were running 20 percent ahead of last year’s pace. Gappens attributed the growth to one factor: Danica. “It’s obviously going to have a major impact,” he said. “There is nothing different other than the fact that she’s racing. Even a fringe fan has heard of Danica Patrick. She’s a star.”

It helps that she has also enjoyed a bit of on-track success in recent weeks after a miserable start on the open-wheel IndyCar circuit as well as a predictable rocky performances in her first three NASCAR races early in the season. Patrick finished sixth at the Indianapolis 500 and posted her first top-5 finish at Texas a week later.

She needs no help with the publicity part, appearing in ads for primary sponsor GoDaddy.com during the Super Bowl, pitching Peak antifreeze and posing for the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue in recent years. No matter where Patrick goes, cameras find her. Last month, even the venerable New Yorker weighed in with a lengthy profile. That Patrick is fiery, attractive and willing to play on her sex appeal in a male-dominated sport makes her an even bigger story – and marketing magnet. SceneDaily.com
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