always on her or that sportswriters hung on
her words, it nonetheless rubbed many
IndyCar people the wrong way.
“I know I’m from another generation but
racing’s all about winning,” says Kanaan, one
of the most popular and successful IndyCar
drivers of the past decade. “That’s how you
get your job, how you move up and how you
get recognized. I’m not saying it’s right or
wrong but Danica made it because she did
OK. She’s the best woman I’ve ever seen. But
now they need her because she’s famous.”
When Motorola, Peak Performance and
Go Daddy began peppering the airwaves
with her commercials, the haters said
Patrick was more concerned with her profile
than her performance.
“I don’t think so,” Klotz responds. “I didn’t
see that. She handles the distractions well.
It must be hard to run two series at once yet
I don’t see that her performance dropped. I
don’t think it affects her that much. Her
whole life is committed to this. She doesn’t
want kids, she’s completely into racing.”
But Goodyear wonders what might have
been if Danica Mania hadn’t broken out.
“Would she have become a stronger driver
on road courses a la Will Power if she had
just been 100 percent absorbed by racing
and not had to do all the marketing and PR?”
becomes a story but Danica is a very strong
marketing presence and reaches across
several platforms,” he comments. “She gets a
lot of exposure and she’s seen outside the
IndyCar world. With regard to ratings,
I think the impact is still to be seen.”
ABC/ESPN goes out of its way to hype
Patrick during its NASCAR telecasts but will
no longer have that storyline for IndyCar.
“I think everyone at ABC knew Danica
wasn’t staying before they agreed to sign up
through 2018,” reasons Goodyear, referring
to the IndyCar Series’ new contract, “but
were they concerned? I don’t think so.”
“Danica has a lot of fans but it’s
ridiculous to believe IndyCar won’t survive
because of one person,” adds Kanaan, who
hasn’t spoken to Patrick in a couple years.
“Sarah [Fisher] was the most popular before
Danica and things went on after she lost her
“Danica’s gone but
Go Daddy is staying
in IndyCar. That
tells me a lot”
Mid-Ohio in ’07 was the scene of two
front-row starts for Patrick that year.
(LEFT) That same year, Wheldon felt
her wrath at Milwaukee.
DANICA’S BEST DRIVES
The races that proved she belonged
Her breakthrough victory at Motegi in 2008?
Her second place at Belle Isle the previous year?
The day she drove into the history books at the
However, here’s a quick glance at her best work in an
IndyCar (although not counting her rookie qualifying run at
Indy in 2005 when the car snapped sideways in Turn 1 but
she never lifted and wound up fourth fastest).
HoMeSTeaD 2010: There was no love lost and no quarter
given for the final 20 laps as Patrick battled andretti
autosport teammate Tony Kanaan (BeLo W) like it was
their last day on earth. She finally beat him to second
place (behind the dominant Scott Dixon) and if anybody
had previously thought Danica lacked “ovaries,” they
weren’t paying attention to that race.
TexaS 2007: The fastest, meanest, scariest track on the
circuit yielded an appropriate and typical Wild West finish
and Patrick was right in the middle of it. She went
wheel-to-wheel with Sam Hornish and Kanaan on the
1.5-mile oval in the closing laps to take third place and
earn some paddock respect in the process.
INDy 2009: on a place that favors her smooth, smart,
steady style, DP started 10th and steadily worked her way
toward the front to finish third, just behind Dan Wheldon
and ahead of Will Power, Dixon and Dario Franchitti.
TexaS 2010: another ballsy performance as she fought
off Marco andretti, Dixon and Franchitti to score second
place behind winner Ryan Briscoe. No fuel strategy or
lucky-dog passes. She ran strong all night.
Paul Webb /LAT
muses the former CART/IRL regular. “I don’t
know. I wonder if she’d have developed
more, considering her background.”
Of course, what everyone wonders is who
takes her place, how does TV view her
departure and how much will it hurt IndyCar?
“Simona de Silvestro has done a great
job,” replies Goodyear, commenting on the
only other woman who runs IndyCar full
time. “Simona is quick, she gets it, she
speaks well and she’s made a lot of fans the
past two years so she’s probably the best
opportunity. She just needs a new car.”
Rich O’Connor who, along with Terry
Lingner, produces the IndyCar programs for
Versus, understands that replacing Danica
won’t be easy. “If somebody out there can
put together some decent races, maybe that
ride. I’m not saying we’ll be better without
Danica; I’m just saying it’s not going to
bankrupt the company and other people will
make news. Danica’s gone but Go Daddy is
staying in IndyCar. That tells me a lot.”
She hasn’t brought back the fans at
Milwaukee and Loudon, TV ratings remain
stagnant and the media circus around her
has moved south. But Danica still sells more
merchandise than the rest of the IndyCar
lineup combined and fans flock around her
pit and transporter to get a photo or a glimpse.
Paul Webb /LAT
MILWauKee 2007: Sure, her finish in 2006 at State Fair
Park looks much better on paper (climbing from 14th to
fourth) but her finest short track moment ended with a
DNF and a “Kodak moment.”
after dropping back on a long pit stop, she charged
through the field and passed Tomas Scheckter, Scott
Sharp, Vitor Meira, Patrick Carpentier, Bryan Herta and
Dixon before tangling with Wheldon as they fought for
fourth place. She confronted the Indy winner and gave
him a piece of her mind, followed by a little shove.