Father Knows Best

Posted by Iannucci | 7/10/2006 | 0 comments »
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Today’s lesson should be entitled “Never underestimate the power of opportunism”. We actually saw this demonstrated this last year – for umpteenth time – when speculation was rampant that Boulder Dan Wheldon would bolt the IRL in favor of Formula One, or even NASCAR. Why would he do that when he was on top of the IRL world? Two words: cashing in.

So while you might think that all is right in the world of Danica!, TJ Patrick (her father/manager/bus driver/oracle) has a decidedly different view. None too pleased that his daughter has spent the year driving sub-par equipment, TJ spent his weekend in Chicago. And not just because it’s outside his hometown of Roscoe, Illinois; no TJ was talking up his daughter and gauging interest from the many NASCAR teams gathered for the Sheetrock 400. Specifically, he was talking with Roush Racing.

Bobby Rahal is no doubt concerned, since Danica!’s contract expires at the end of this season.

On the one hand, I have a hard time thinking this is much more than leverage against possible IRL suitors. She’s made her name in the IRL, and she’s basically driven to the capabilities of her equipment. If she could find herself driving for Penske, Ganassi or even Andretti Green then she would be in the hunt every week. Considering she has made her career driving open-wheel cars, it’s a massive change to move to NASCAR. She would be driving more than twice as many races (more if she races Busch series events) against twice as many competitors in a totally different vehicle.

On the other hand, the marketing impact alone would be phenomenal. No woman has raced competitively in NASCAR in recent years, and if she were able to drive for Roush she would definitely have a top 10 car every week. It’s actually plausible, considering Roush recently signed Sondi Eden to a developmental contract.

Most likely it’s all smoke and mirrors to get her a big fat IRL contract with a better team. We’ve seen this ploy in recent years with Sam Hornish and Dan Wheldon, and they have proven more successful at the IRL than Danica!...then again, Danica! is a rather rare driver in terms of popularity. Either way she’s gonna get paid, and it probably won’t be from Bobby and David.