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Friday, August 26, 2011

Danica Patrick joins NASCAR


Gone are the days of "Gentlemen, start your engines." Those gentlemen will now include a lady, once Danica Patrick is on the scene. Patrick has announced that she will join NASCAR as a full time driver in 2012 in the Nationwide series. She will drive for JR Motorsports, owned by Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

Patrick will also spend nearly two dozen races behind the wheel of a Sprint Cup car, driving for Stewart-Haas Racing.

It was bound to happen to the male-dominated sport of stock car racing. It is not that there haven't been successful women participating in the sport in the past, because there have. Women have made their mark in race car driving.

In 1949, Sara Christian, the first woman race car driver, posted a fifth-place finish at Pittsburgh, the best finish by a woman in NASCAR history. Christian ran seven races, with her first competition at Charlotte.

But probably the best known woman race car driver was Janet Guthrie, who ran 33 races between 1976 and 1980. Like Patrick, Guthrie was probably better known for driving Indy cars, but she also made a name for herself at NASCAR. She started in the top ten and posted top-ten finishes in the NASCAR’s Winston Cup, which is now the Sprint Cup Series. She finished sixth at Bristol, Tennessee in ‘77, which remains the best by a woman in the recent NASCAR era.

Guthrie is the only woman to take the lead in a Cup race. She was the Top Rookie in five races in her day. She was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2006.

It will be exciting to watch Danica Patrick go the distance with these good ole boys. It might be more fun to watch how they react to it. I believe Patrick is here to stay. She is spunky. She is competitive. And she is qualified. Her presence will undoubtedly beef up the Nationwide Series, which is already, in my opinion, becoming a must watch program.

I’m even more excited to watch her career as a Sprint Cup driver in a Stewart-Haas car. Since I’m a woman, Ryan Newman is my favorite driver, and I happen to have a GoDaddy website (http://www.ozarkattitude.com) this is a tad personal for me. I am really going to enjoy racing in 2012, not that it hasn’t been stellar this year.

With Ryan Newman seventh in points, his racing prowess is becoming obvious to even his staunchest critics. I love saying I told you so to those hard-nose idiots that have long misjudged him. 

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