IndyCar dealing with life after Danica

Danica Patrick competed for seven years in the IndyCar series. She wasn't one of the top drivers; her best championship-points finish was fifth. She also finished sixth, seventh, ninth, 10th twice and 12th.

She was, however, the most popular face in the series. She's beautiful, a master self-marketer and a decent enough driver. Like it or not, she was the one so many fans wanted to see.

A good example is what happened in the three years she toiled in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, which will be run this weekend.

All one had to do was go into the paddock area to witness the hoopla.

Even though ultra-talented drivers such as Dario Franchitti and Helio Castroneves were out there, at least five times as many fans were lined up at Patrick's trailer trying to get a glimpse, an autograph or a photo.

Patrick has left for NASCAR, and it will be interesting to see the effect her departure has on IndyCar. Franchitti, who has won three consecutive series titles and four overall, had an interesting perspective.

"She certainly brought a lot of attention regardless of results on the track and that was both a good and a bad thing," said Franchitti, of Team Target Chip Ganassi. "In some ways it took the focus away from the other drivers, regardless of the success we had. I put myself in that, too."

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