Race Weekend Central

2-Headed Monster: Can Danica Patrick Improve?

The question this week: Danica Patrick had a strong performance during Speedweeks, finishing top 10 in both stages and contending until one of the big wrecks knocked her out. Is that a sign of things to come this season for NASCAR’s lone full-time female Cup driver or has the ship sailed on Danica improving at this level?

Nope.

Danica Patrick’s ship has sailed right on over a waterfall at this point. Yes, she ran well in the Daytona 500 prior to wrecking, but that’s like saying the Atlanta Falcons had one of the greatest Super Bowl performances of all time… except for blowing a 28-3 lead.

Also, it’s Daytona. Everyone runs well there. Saying Patrick is going to have a great year because she ran well at Daytona is like saying that little Jimmy is destined to be in Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame one day because his little league coach gave him a participation trophy.

Let’s not forget that Patrick had some of the best equipment in the Daytona 500. Her teammate Kurt Busch won the event and teammate Kevin Harvick won one of the segments and led the most laps of the day.

Nothing condemns Patrick more than the stats. This is Patrick’s fifth year in Cup and she has yet to contend for a win, let a lone win. Not only has she never made the Chase, she has not even finished in the top 20 in points. Additionally, Patrick did not record a single top 10 last season.

Meanwhile, all three of her Stewart-Haas teammates won races and made the Chase in 2016. I would love to see what would happen if guys like Regan Smith, Bubba Wallace, Chris Buescher, or even boyfriend Ricky Stenhouse Jr. got in the No. 10 Ford. I bet they would contend for titles like the other three cars on the team.

Patrick’s performance is not the reason she was awarded that ride––sponsorship and popularity were. She did not win a single race in the XFINITY Series and she won one Verizon IndyCar Series race on fuel mileage. Patrick had excellent equipment in those series as well, driving for JR Motorsports, Andretti Autosport and Rahal Letterman Racing.

Now it seems that the sponsorship money is drying up for Patrick, as SHR and Nature’s Bakery are in a legal dispute, and the NASCAR fan base seems to be losing interest in someone who runs around 25th place on a weekly basis.

It was awesome to see a female in the sport and she will always have that Daytona 500 pole award, but I do not foresee Patrick having a miraculous turnaround this year. There are tons of talented female racers all over the country, let’s give one of them a shot at NASCAR.  Michael Massie

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