Danica Patrick is in the Daytona 500. Finally.
Years of speculation about Patrick’s skill, or lack of it, will be on full display in North America’s largest race. Sorry Indianapolis 500.
With Patrick’s announcement comes a surprising amount of winners and losers, plus some people who find themselves stuck in the middle. Here’s a breakdown, Bert Convy style.
The Daytona 500 is a huge ratings cow for the network. Add Patrick’s appearance/spectacle/nobody really knows what will happen component to this race, and FOX will find millions of additional eyes on their network for an extended amount of time. In a sport that needs new revenue streams, the value of Patrick’s appearance can’t be overstated.
Lose: David Reutimann
So much for riding in the sport’s biggest race. What stinks is Reutimann has a good record on bigger tracks. Could he win? Trevor Bayne won last year in a Wood Brothers car. It would make for a good story.
Draw: Dedicated Sprint Cup fans
Will Patrick receive a disproportionate amount of coverage to appease the network? Probably. If Patrick is running 30th the whole day, fans will want to see the race leaders and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Will that set Twitter ablaze? Bank on it.
Win: Tony Stewart
Whopper Man has the potential to become one of racing’s most important figures of all time. Really.
Not only is a team owner the sport’s champion, but he just won the tug of war for racing’s hottest driver. Sorry Brian Vickers.
In this economy, for Stewart to have three relevant teams in less than five years is nothing short of stunning. Just ask Michael Waltrip how hard this can be.
Lose: Dave Blaney
Blaney went from having a spot in the biggest race of the year to having to earn said spot with equipment that is at best not ideal. Dang.
Draw: Greg Zippadelli
Talk about a challenge. Zippy essentially replaces a crew chief who orchestrated the biggest Chase in history. I know Zippy isn’t chiefing Stewart’s team, but the names will be connected. In addition to that pressure, Zippy gets to run quality gear with an unproven driver. That didn’t work out so well with Joey Logano. Be careful for what you wish…
Win, Lose and Draw: Danica Patrick
Patrick gets to race in the Daytona 500. What racing fan wouldn’t want that experience? Even if I finished dead last, I wouldn’t care.
The problem is Patrick will have a giant line upon her and 42 other teams who won’t cut her any slack because it’s her first race. That is legitimately dangerous. Think Kevin Harvick won’t run her off the track if he has a chance to win???
Here’s the draw: we have no clue how Patrick will respond. Patrick had success at Indi when expectations were low. She struggled at Indi when expectations were high. Patrick’s Daytona expectations are both low and high for very different reasons. I guess that’s one reason we will watch a few Sundays from now.