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DATE News (chronologically)
06/16/09
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Danica Patrick could pump $50M per year into NASCAR  UPDATE #2 Based on her comments in this interview, Danica Patrick has no interest in going to NASCAR unless it is with Hendrick Motorsports, Roush Racing or perhaps the JGR Toyota team.  We predicted all along that she will remain in IndyCars, and we stick by that notion.

06/15/09 Danica Patrick will be in NASCAR next season. If NASCAR executives can pull it off. George Pyne -- the former NASCAR Chief Operating Officer, and thus one of the top officials in stock car racing, and now head of IMG sports and entertainment, the high-buck talent marketing agency – and key NASCAR executives are together working the entire Sprint Cup garage trying to put together a package for Patrick to run NASCAR next season. Finding sponsorship is quite likely not the big issue, as hot a property as Danica Patrick is. mikemulhern.net

06/10/09 NASCAR might just have an answer to the soft economy that's hurting TV ratings, live attendance, and sponsor recruitment: Danica Patrick. Arguably one of the best-known drivers in the world -- despite having won just one race -- Ms. Patrick is allowed to begin negotiations this week on a new contract with IndyCar team owners, and the racing rumor mill is churning that she is seriously contemplating a switch from open-wheel to stock-car racing in NASCAR.

Ripple effect
What would it mean to NASCAR to have Ms. Patrick line up each week with the likes of Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, current three-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson and a host of other well-known drivers and personalities? Well, some sports pundits believe it could bring in $50 million in fresh sponsorship money, not to mention the ripple effect her popularity would have on TV ratings and at-track attendance.

"I guarantee this is what will happen if Danica Patrick jumps to NASCAR," a sports marketing executive who does business with the racing league told AdAge.com. "One, every TV rating for every race will increase from the year before as new fans and old tune it to see if she wins, crashes or pitches a fit and gets into fights on pit road like she does now. Two, track attendance will go up. Three, even though NASCAR has a pretty loyal and wide-open fan base now among women, it will skyrocket if she's driving every week. And four, I guarantee it will bring in $50 million in new sponsors annually of marketers looking to activate around her, whether it's [sponsorship] on the car or off the track."

Bill Sutton, principal of Orlando, Fla.-based Bill Sutton & Associates, a strategic marketing and revenue-enhancement firm, agreed that $50 million is easily achievable "if the economy comes back and sponsors know how to use her to tell their own stories."

Ms. Patrick could likely open new avenues of sponsorship for NASCAR, either with female-oriented products (she has endorsed Procter & Gamble's Secret deodorant) or bring to NASCAR her current agreements with such companies as GoDaddy.com and Boost Mobile.

Ms. Patrick's Indy Racing League deal with Andretti Green Racing expires later this year, and she has done little to quell the speculation that she will jump to NASCAR. She could not be reached for comment, but prior to her most recent race June 6 at the Texas Motor Speedway she told reporters that as a "driver that drives in the top level of open-wheel racing here in the United States, or in North America, you want to jump from one top to another top. If that was the direction that ends up coming up and that we choose, I would prefer to do that, but I'm not so naive that I won't be open to other opportunities and other ideas." More at AdAge.com

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