Danica Patrick may quit the IRL

The Indy Racing League is growing, Danica Patrick said, but bigger sponsors and bigger paychecks are needed to keep the momentum going and the IndyCar Series stars from jumping to NASCAR or Formula One.

That responsibility should fall to the series, which Patrick said should take a more aggressive marketing approach.

"One of the big draws of NASCAR is the money," the Rahal Letterman Racing star said Friday at Texas Motor Speedway. "They make a lot of money. If we as a series want to be racing like this every weekend and be running across the country every day for six months, we need to make sure we make more, too."

Patrick has become a crossover star, and is featured in commercials that air during shows such as American Idol and The View. But aside from a Tony Kanaan cameo on The Apprentice, the IRL's crossover appeal pales to NASCAR.

Something as simple as plastering Sam Hornish Jr.'s or Dan Wheldon's likeness to a soda machine seems attainable, Patrick said.

"That's something the series needs to do, get sponsors involved to market us and them as well," she said. "Being in someone's face is always going to get their attention."

Another aide would be one, unified open-wheel circuit that could help draw sponsors or re-invigorate former sponsors who were cooled by the CART-IRL split a decade ago. Patrick believes one league folding is more likely than the two series uniting.

But everything comes back to dollar signs, and that might mean leaving the IRL behind.

"Being an IndyCar driver, I believe that's what everyone here wants to do," Patrick said. "But at the end of the day, you have to do the best for yourself and your career." Star Telegram (Related article)

[Editor's Note: What Tony George will soon realize is that NASCAR is no friend of his or open wheel racing, and if they get a chance to snatch the IRL's biggest star, they will. After all, they were not afraid to snatch Tony Stewart and Sarah Fisher, the two previous biggest IRL stars.]

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