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Danica Patrick? The latest report puts her in a Rick Hendrick Chevrolet, instead of a Jack Roush Ford. But Hendrick spokesman says no way. And Roush's Geoff Smith says the field is still open

Indy star sexy Danica Patrick: on Rick Hendrick's radar? (Photo: Indy Racing League)

   By Mike Mulhern


   The latest on the Danica Patrick/NASCAR saga is quite intriguing.
   If the Indy-car star does jump from the Indy Racing League to NASCAR, as increasingly appears likely, the battle for her, according to sources close to the negotiations, is down to car owners Rick Hendrick, of Chevrolet, and Jack Roush, of Ford.
  According to these sources, Hendrick and General Motors' Chevrolet division are now suddenly the heavy favorites to sign Patrick.
  But hold on -- Hendrick's Jesse Essex, manager of media relations, is quick to deny the Patrick report: "It is untrue," Essex says.
   Essex, when asked about any talks over the issue, declined to go any further on the point.
  And Geoff Smith, head of Roush Fenway Racing, says he's got a meeting of his own with Patrick's people tentatively set for within the next week or so, and Smith certainly doesn't seem ready to concede anything.
   In fact, just what may be going on in the Patrick camp is still quite unclear.
   And it may be too early to pinpoint Hendrick or Roush or any specific direction Patrick may be going.
   This much appears clear – That Patrick could probably generate as much as $60 million in sponsorship interest, if packaged correctly, which in these strapped economic times, is quite appealing. And that Patrick apparently wants to put together a racing package that allows her to keep running some IRL events.
   It may be the IRL angle that stymies most NASCAR options, because only Roger Penske and Chip Ganassi currently have both an Indy-car and NASCAR operation.
   Smith says he's still not certain that Patrick is even all that serious about NASCAR.
   However, Smith says IMG, the international talent agency that is marketing her in this venture, has been very actively working the NASCAR garage: "The IMG people, led by Mark Dyer, are doing their tours of the various (NASCAR) race teams."
    Smith says IMG is doing three things:
    "Shopping for interest – to see what the interest level is.
   "And they are sharing some ideas they have about what path she ought to take.
   "And third, they are trying to get feedback from the teams they're talking to about whether certain of their paths and ideas are compatible with what the teams think  -- Can she run IRL the same time she's running one of these series? How many races in each series could she run?"
  For example, Roush has said he would like to see her run some NASCAR Nationwide and/or Truck events, along with six or seven Cup events, to get her accustomed to stock car racing, if she does decide to try NASCAR.
   "I haven't spoken to them (IMG) yet, nor has Jack, though I did talk with Mark last week and we're trying to set up a talk," Smith says.
   "I believe they are trying to set up meeting with literally every big team that will talk with them – Gibbs, Hendrick, Childress, Ganassi, Stewart-Haas, Penske, us, Yates, maybe Gillett-Evernham."
   The time frame for making any decisions?
   "We're already in July, and unless she has a sponsorship following…..well, if she does have a sponsorship following, then we could go into the fall," Smith says. "This is a question I have. And if we are the ones who have to find a sponsorship solution, then every day we wait hurts us. Every day."
   Patrick has talked increasingly positive in the past few weeks about moving to NASCAR, as "a new challenge." But she has indicated she was not particularly interested in starting at a lower level of stock car racing and slowly moving up.
   Perhaps complicating any potential Hendrick option is that his plate is currently full. He has four full-time Cup drivers.
   However Hendrick has talked about expanding JR Motorsports, a joint venture with Dale Earnhardt Jr., up to a full Cup program. Hendrick has already been talking with Talladega winner Brad Keselowski about Keselowski's future in NASCAR, with indications he could get a Cup ride with an expanded JR Motorsports venture, presumably with Hendrick engines and Hendrick engineering.
  One interesting angle on the Patrick-Hendrick situation -- both have GoDaddy.com sponsorships. GoDaddy is the privately-owned internet website licensing company, which likes to use edgy advertising.
   Hendrick has been very successful this season with another satellite Cup venture, with Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman. Stewart in fact currently leads the Sprint Cup standings, in his first season as an owner-driver, and teammate Newman is a solid sixth in the standings.
   Patrick herself has insisted she will make no decision or announcement about 2010 until later this season.
   How well Patrick could do in adapting to the heavy, more awkward NASCAR stockers is a hotly debated topic, particularly given Sam Hornish Jr.'s struggles. Hornish, a three-time Indy tour champion, and in his second full season on the NASCAR tour, is only now finally getting comfortable and relatively successful in Cup cars.
   Nevertheless, Patrick's star appeal is quite compelling.
   How significant Chevrolet's role might be in any of the Patrick negotiations is unclear, particularly since GM is currently in bankruptcy and has just announced major cutbacks in its NASCAR operations.
   But if Chevrolet could beat its rivals, particularly Ford, to signing Patrick, that would be a major marketing coup…regardless of how well she might actually do out on the track.
   Ford has a long history of promoting women drivers.
   It is unclear what Patrick's own thinking might really be.
    THIS is what the New York Times said about Danica-to-NASCAR a few weeks ago.




All I can say is I really do

All I can say is I really do hope this is all a load of CRAP.

Time will tell I guess...

Once again Nascar is proving

Once again Nascar is proving that they are more concerned about the money in the sport rather than the talent. Nascar needs to be more concerned with a more competitive race if they want to sustain or improve ratings. Danica will give an instant jump in ratings, but will soon dwindle once the Danica hype is over within a few months of her running between 20th to 30th place each week. Fix the damn cars, not the drivers if you want a more consistent fan base.

Getting Danika would be the

Getting Danika would be the smartest thing Nascar has ever done and the smartest thing Hendrick did since the huge goof of getting rid of Kyle Busch for Dale Jr.

Danica is a joke. She doesnt

Danica is a joke. She doesnt give a crap about NASCAR, she's just in it for the money. Said so herself. Leave the cup spots to people who WANT & EARN to race in NASCAR, not those that have to take their clothes off to prove something.

You forgot another recent

You forgot another recent Ford 'miscue' ...Kahne.

This one is a "no brainer"

This one is a "no brainer" folks. Just think about it for a minute... Danica Patrick would be a huge marketing phenonoma bigger than even Junior and Hendrick Motorsport's powerful in-house PR/ Marketing Group is the only one in the sport capable of handling an account this big with the degree of professionalism that it will require. Everyone else's marketing organization is a second rate effort compared to that of Rick Hendrick.

Danica to NASCAR would be

Danica to NASCAR would be huge. If Jr. decides to race for his own team, Danica would be a shoo in to take his place at Hendrick!

Danica should stay in

Danica should stay in Indycar. With Ganassi offering her a ride and her doing better than her teammates (TK, Marco, Mutoh) she is poised to be a real serious Indy 500 and Indycar Series contender next season by going to Ganassi, not to mention that better drivers I.E. Dario, Almendinger, Speed, Hornish, Montoya have all tried NASCAR with limited success. She'd just be another backmarker with a big name like Little E.!!!!

I can just see it now...the

I can just see it now...the Danica 500 in February!!! I am so sick of hearing about Danica Patrick. Seriously, has she done anything as far as winning? Only one race as far as I can tell. She is just as bad for Indy Car as Dale Jr. is for NASCAR. Big names but, little talent. If she wants to prove that she belongs then she should go to Eldora and race the Prelude To The Dream. I'll bet she doesn't even finish in the top 15.

Damned if you haven't just

Damned if you haven't just hit on it -- I'll tell Tony....I'll bet he'd love to have her in that field....and think of the HBO TV ratings....Brilliant!

I'm not an Earnhardt fan but

I'm not an Earnhardt fan but you do realize that he is in the top 5 for wins since 2000

Nice point -- The top-10 Cup

Nice point --
The top-10 Cup winners since 2000:

Jimmie Johnson 42 wins
Jeff Gordon 33 wins
Tony Stewart 31 wins
Kurt Busch 19 wins
Dale Earnhardt Jr. 18 wins
Matt Kenseth 18 wins
Carl Edwards 16 wins
Kyle Busch 15 wins
Greg Biffle 14 wins
Ryan Newman 13 wins

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Uh.. do you even WATCH

Uh.. do you even WATCH IndyCar? She is 5th in points standings, ahead of all three teammates, among which one of them is a former IndyCar champion.

Funding, sponsors, marketing,

Funding, sponsors, marketing, celebrity, and really good looks are the wind beneath the wings of NASCAR or any other form of racing. Even the local guys on dirt tracks need a new set of tires once in a while. Racing stopped being about racing a long time ago, it is a business and the bottom line will determine who rides. She might drive worse than my mom, (no way) but she can sell it.

Damned if you haven't just

Damned if you haven't just hit on it -- I'll tell Tony....I'll bet he'd love to have her in that field....and think of the HBO TV ratings....Brilliant !

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