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There will be no more "Gentlemen start your engines," at least for 10 races this season.
Despite how she came to be listed among the participating drivers in the prestigious first race of the 2012 NASCAR season, her presence in the race will likely add to the NASCAR devotees looking forward to Sunday afternoons, starting, Feb. 26. Imagine; she could give Dale Earnhardt, Jr. a challenge for that most popular driver moniker. Feminist types, if there are any that follow NASCAR, as well as other females will root for her, because she is a woman. And women are still a rare commodity in the NASCAR garage. Men will root for her because, let's face it, she's stunning to look at, even when she isn't donning a bikini atop a race car.
Granted, her guaranteed spot in the Daytona 500 was a little weird and certainly complicated. It was controversial and caused major aggravation for some.
Basically Patrick was the beneficiary of a deal between Stewart-Haas Racing, (SHR) and Tommy Baldwin Racing, (TBR). In the spirit of cooperation, and perhaps a bit of cold hard cash, TBR will transfer owner points from TBR which finished in the top 35 in points last year. TBR's No. 36 car finished the season 33rd in points. It was piloted by Dave Blaney who remains a TBR driver this year.
Because the No. 10 is brand new this year, it had no standing as far as last year's owner points were concerned. This deal between the two race team blurs the lines between the two teams, giving Patrick the golden opportunity to run in the 500.
Points earned by the No. 36 car ensured a starting spot in the first five races of the season, including the biggest race of the year--the Daytona 500. The deal will transform the No. 36 into Patrick's No. 10 car, fielded by TBR, but with all other aspects belonging to SHR. Greg Zipadelli, of SHR will be her Crew Chief. GoDaddy.com will be her sponsor.
Patrick will run a limited schedule--10 races--in the Sprint Cup series. In those races where she doesn't compete, TBR driver David Reutimann will fill in. Otherwise, he will drive his No. 36 car for TBR.
In addition to sharing a car, the two will also share team support and sponsorship.
Patrick will also run a full schedule in the Nationwide Series, driving for Dale Earnhardt, Jr. which will likely boost ratings on Saturday afternoon as well.
Some are furious that Patrick didn't have to race her way into the sport's most prestigious race like all the other drivers. They also say it isn't fair that Blaney who did earn his way in will have to race his way to a spot on the starting grid. Some blame Tony Stewart and Tommy Baldwin for taking advantage while others blame NASCAR for allowing such large loopholes in their ownership points rules.
Personally, I'm just going to just be faithful to my gender. I'm excited to see Danica Patrick in the Daytona 500. If testing a few weeks ago is any indication, her presence in the sport will prove to be another exciting factor. The lady can drive. The fact that she is driving for my favorite race team doesn't hurt either. Wow, just 16 more days. I can hardly wait for the command, "Drivers, start your engines."