Has Patrick’s Victory Made Kansas a Bigger Story Than Talladega?
Danica Patrick made history last weekend by becoming the first female to win an IndyCar Series event. On her fiftieth try, Patrick took the checkers at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan. Her breakthrough win made worldwide headlines and has attracted unprecedented attention to the series’ next event at Kansas Speedway on April 27.
The NASCAR race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway has typically dominated the weekend’s motorsports press, but will Patrick’s groundbreaking win make the IndyCar race at Kansas Speedway a bigger story?
John Andretti, former Open Wheel winner, NASCAR Sprint Cup winner:
“I tell you what, if you’re anyone other than Danica Patrick at Kansas, you probably won’t exist. That’s OK – she’s earned the right. It’s no different than Graham Rahal. He won his first IndyCar race right out of the box to become the youngest winner in the series. It’s been a historical year already and they’re only three races into the season. The reunification is happening, so there’s a big focus on open-wheel racing. The Indianapolis 500 is following right behind all this, so there’s going to be a lot to talk about in Kansas. It’s not just about Danica, but certainly she’ll be leading the blitz.”
“The way I look at it is that it was a huge win for motorsports. It was no different than Danica Patrick quarterbacking an NFL team, or participating in another major league sport that is predominately male driven. I think it’s fantastic. She’s extremely talented and everybody knows that. She’s already brought a lot of attention to motorsports because of the package. She has it all, sort of like a Dale Jr. She draws excitement and attention wherever she goes. For herself, more so than anyone else, it was important for her to win that race. In the overall scope of things, people who don’t know a lot about motorsports, or maybe that followed only one kind of motorsports, are going to follow all of it now. It’s a big win for the whole motorsports community. Whether people are watching Kansas or Talladega, as long as they’re watching a race, that’s all that really matters.”
Marc Mitchell, driver of the #15 Ergon Tundra:
“Pound for pound, there’s nothing more exciting than a race at Talladega. It’s hard to beat forty-three cars slicing and dicing at two hundred miles-per-hour for five hundred miles. NASCAR has the greatest, most loyal fans in the world, and they wouldn’t miss that for the world.
“I think it’s awesome what Danica Patrick accomplished. No doubt it’s an incredible feat, but I don’t think it’s going to pull anyone away from Talladega coverage. I think the excitement and unpredictability of Talladega will make it a bigger story.”
Bobby Labonte, NASCAR Sprint Cup Veteran:
“I don’t know if you’re asking that question three of four years ago? But, it’s certainly true that you’re going to see some focus at Kansas Speedway this weekend. Obviously Danica has made headlines and the Indianapolis 500 is right around the corner. They have some momentum right now.
“But, you’re never going to lose seats at Talladega for a Sprint Cup race. If Dale Earnhardt Jr. is there, and we’re putting 43 cars side-by-side, it’s a tough product to beat. The fans at Talladega help define what passion is for NASCAR.”