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DATE News (chronologically)
09/26/11
nassprint
Patrick could have tough time in NASCAR  
Danica Patrick is proof that people with no exceptional talent can be financially successful. Look at Snooki, who has no real talent; she is making millions
Would the fact that Danica Patrick is racing make you buy a ticket to see her race? A lot of people seemed to think that was the case in IndyCar, and now that she is leaving to race in NASCAR, a lot of those people are concerned.

The folks in NASCAR are ecstatic that she is coming. They think that Danica will sell a lot of tickets for NASCAR races.

Recently, Danica announced that she had signed a deal with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his JR Motorsports to race the entire NASCAR Nationwide Series schedule in 2012. In addition, she will drive a Sprint Cup car in about a half-dozen events provided by Tony Stewart.

Not very surprising, the first Cup race on her schedule is the season-opening Daytona 500.

Hopefully, she will not show up for the Daytona 500 in the same seven-inch spiked heels that she wore for the announcement of her plans for 2012. I found that so amazing that I just had to get that in.

In all the years I have been covering the sport, I can truthfully say that I have never seen a woman racer show up at a news conference in high heels (no male racers, either), and I have been there for a few such announcements.

Also, not surprising is the fact that GoDaddy, the company that has pretty much financed her racing career and made her pretty much a household word, will be the sponsor for all her NASCAR racing. And GoDaddy will continue to be an Andretti Motorsports sponsor for the next two seasons.

Apparently, that was part of the deal to get Danica out of her contract with Andretti. And there is a chance that Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon will get a full-time ride with the Andretti team for 2012. Believe it or not, Wheldon has not had a full-time ride in quite a while.

If it were not for the high-powered marketing program she has in place, I have to seriously doubt that she would have gotten this far. She earned $12 million last year, according to Forbes.com.

To me, that is proof that people with no exceptional talent can be financially successful. Look at Snooki, who has no real talent; she is making millions.

Patrick last won an event 64 races ago, when she won a fuel strategy IndyCar race in Japan. Her efforts with the open-wheel cars have been disappointing this season.

I am thinking that she has used up her marketing strategies in IndyCar; merchandise sales are not what they used to be. There are some new ladies coming along to race in IndyCar, and the attention that Patrick thrived on, grew wealthy on, is waning. Time to move on.

Patrick has told everyone who will stand still long enough to listen that she is not moving to a full-time effort in NASCAR to help her marketing efforts and help sell more merchandise.

Quite frankly, I don't think she is going to become a big success in NASCAR. She will not be winning races in Nationwide or Sprint Cup.

I doubt that she will be a factor in any NASCAR events in 2012, but the broadcasters' love affair, probably nudged along by NASCAR decision makers, with her will probably give her more TV exposure than the race leaders.

Some very talented stars of IndyCar have struggled in their efforts to switch to NASCAR. Sam Hornish Jr., an Indy 500 winner, has been trying to make it in NASCAR Cup and now Nationwide for a couple of years. I can't remember when he has been a factor in any race, and he has been in some very good equipment provided by Roger Penske.

IndyCar standout Dario Franchitti, even better known for marrying a movie star, tried to make it in NASCAR and lasted just one season before heading back to the comfort of open-wheel racing.

Hey, I remember Michael Waltrip raced for 11 years in NASCAR without a win. However, he was able to attract major sponsorship and, in auto racing, it does not seem to matter if you have success on the track as long as sponsors are happy.

Even now that Waltrip is a car owner who rarely drives, he still seems to have the magic touch for attracting sponsors. It may be a big help that he gets to generate exposure for his sponsors with his frequent commentator work for SPEED television.

Perhaps Michael and Danica should get together and write a book on how to be successful in marketing and sponsorship, with some limited racing talent thrown in.

It will be interesting to see how Danica does. Danica will probably measure it by on-track achievement. NASCAR will measure it by ticket sales and TV rating numbers. Danica's marketing people will probably measure it by merchandise sales.

Quite frankly, I think she has her work cut out for her in all those areas. Just my opinion. Bucks County Courier Times

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