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Kelly Earnhardt says people need to have patience with Danica Patrick in her NASCAR ventures

  Kelly Earnhardt (L) and Danica Patrick (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern

   BRISTOL, Tenn.
   No, Danica Patrick isn't here...though she probably should be if she were really serious about a possible NASCAR career.
   But she was a hot topic of conversation nevertheless, with team owner Kelly Earnhardt, Dale Jr.'s business-minded sister, talking not only about just hiring promising Aric Almirola to run Nationwide cars next season but also talking about Patrick's continuing problems adjusting to stock car racing.
   "She's on-board again next year, and I'm just waiting for the IRL schedule so we can sit down and put together what her (NASCAR) schedule looks like for 2011," Kelly Earnhardt said of the Indy-car star she and her brother are backing on the Nationwide tour.
    "She's definitely had a difficult year. But people need to remember she's only run six stock car races in her career."
   Of course some in the sport think that's part of the problem: Friday night's 250 here will be the 24th Nationwide tour even this year, and she's missed most of them, while running the full IRL tour.
   Patrick finished 27th at Michigan last weekend, four laps down, in her fifth NASCAR Nationwide race. She was lapped after just 40 miles, in a performance she conceded was "painful....disappointing."
   Indeed she is no longer center-ring, and the DanicaMania circus – remember the hoopla at Daytona in February? – is fast fading.
   And if Patrick thought Michigan, that wide two-mile oval, was tough, wait till she hits Dover Sept. 25th. That's her next NASCAR run.
   Patrick's best Indy-car runs this season have been the second at Texas and a pair of sixths, at Indianapolis and Toronto.
   "She's still new at this and has a lot to learn," Kelly Earnhardt says.
   Patrick of course realizes that too, and at Michigan she even made light of how much she has to learn: "I just found out there are two truck arms under these race cars, not just one."
    Dale Jr. will run four to six Nationwide races next season, at tracks to-be-determined, sharing the ride with Patrick.
    Patrick's general goal this season has been to qualify top-20 in NASCAR and run top-15....which she has yet to do.

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Dale and Danica Show

A recharged Dale Jr and a committed-to-NASCAR Danica would be a major remedy to NASCAR's TV ratings and attendance problems. Dale, still NASCAR's top draw, has to be competitive in order for NASCAR to regain fan interest. This isn't to say that NASCAR should manipulate the races to his advantage however Brian France has to bring Hendrick in the office and say "Look it, Rick, get your act together with the #88 team or you'll find every bolt of the Hendrick cars inspected pre and post race and satellite teams banned. Your lack of leadership here is costing us all big bucks so make Tony Sr the chief chief and assign the 88 team the top engineers. And then turn Dale around and give him a kick in the butt because he isn't pulling his weight!" Then Brian should bring in Danica and say, "Danica, make a decision. Do you want to be stock car driver or not? If you want to be a star with NASCAR you'd better spend your time learning how to drive stock cars instead of messing around with those IRL go carts. Last September it was all Danica, Danica. Now, people are starting to forget who you are! Bottom line time now, Danica; join us full time in 2011 and I'll guarantee you a $12 million payday." Maybe Brian has already had such conversations...I hope so because the Dale and Danica show might save NASCAR's bacon!

Why Should She Even Be Here, Kelly?

"A committed to NASCAR Danica would be a major remedy to NASCAR's TV ratings and attendance problems."

Why are people still thinking gimmicks will solve the sport's popularity issues? Danica Patrick has spent six seasons in Indycars and not only has she not brought more fans to the sport she's basically alienated people out of the sport.

Why should Danica Patrick even be here? Why not put a real racer like Ted Christopher in that car instead?

She won't be getting any

She won't be getting any patience from me. She's taking up a seat that somebody much more deserving should have the opportunity to sit in. Her hype-vs-talent ratio is about the same as Dale Jr's, so it's no surprise she's in his stable. Teresa did, and probably still could, outdrive both of them, but she needs to keep quiet about this because she's way off.


why are you even reporting this crap ?
Danica is nothing more than a side-show and your not helping matters. You want more people to watch racing ? Quit the side-show crap and talk about people that have some sort of talent.
Most of the problems with this sport is the media coverage. Its lame Mike, lame.
Real coverage about real drivers. Let me give you a hint. Its not Dale jr. its not Danica, for cryin' out loud just look at both of their records...

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