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DATE News (chronologically)
02/04/12
nassprint
Buying her way into Daytona 500 makes Danica a gimmick
A free ride into the Super Bowl of Stock Car racing makes Danica Patrick into a gimmick
You prove yourself through hard work, courage, success. There is glory in making the climb to the top, not through cutting in line. Danica Patrick, with the help of her team owner, Tony Stewart, bought her way into the Daytona 500. Simple as that.

She is going to the Super Bowl of racing not because she drives a car well but because she looks great on top of one in a bikini. This turns Patrick into a gimmick. She now is a GoDaddy babe who happens to be driving, instead of the other way around. I always thought of her as a driver first.

It’s hard to find the right balance when you’re combining sex and sport. Credibility is questioned, probably unfairly. But Maria Sharapova won Wimbledon and was No. 1 before she hit magazines in a bikini. That’s the right direction, anyway.

Patrick has landed at the top. She has never raced at the top level of NASCAR, only done OK at the next level down — the Nationwide Series. Her average finish is farther back than her average starting position.

She did not earn her way into the Daytona 500 and will run qualifying only to determine her starting position. Someone else earned enough points to get in, but Patrick’s team, Stewart-Haas Racing, bought that someone’s points, painted another car with that someone’s number and called Patrick a success.

In other news, the Chicago Bears have purchased the New York Giants’ playoff wins and will face New England in the Super Bowl on Sunday.

Patrick is doing this with the blessing of NASCAR rules. Crummy rules. Nearly every year, something similar happens, though this one has its own special twists.

In fact, last year’s Daytona 500 winner, Trevor Bayne, got into the race when his team bought someone else’s points. But no one will accuse him of getting in for his Q rating. Instead, Richard Petty Motorsports decided to reduce the number of cars it ran, so it sold some of its points. The plan was that Bayne, in one car, would use his points to get into Daytona and then race a partial season. By doing so, Bayne's team didn't accumulate enough points to stay in the top 35 to automatically qualify for races.

But in Patrick’s case, they are taking this ridiculous points thing a little farther. Her plan is to use the points to get into the big race in car No. 10, then drop back to the Nationwide Series for a while, then pop back up at different times for nine more Sprint Cup events. Fox on MSN

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