Thursday, Dec. 10, 2009 | 4:31 p.m.
What we already knew has now been confirmed. Danica Patrick will run a partial Nationwide Series schedule in 2010.
According to The New York Times, Patrick’s first race will be Feb. 13 at Daytona International Speedway. She is planning to race in the Nationwide Series before and after the 2010 Indy-car schedule, which has 17 races.
Patrick will be the 13th woman to race in the Nationwide Series and I think she has the talent to accomplish more in this series than the women who have preceded her. Frankly, I would like to see her have some success just to prove the Danica Doubters wrong.
But it will be a rough road for the IndyCar driver. Few drivers from open-wheel racing have made an easy transition to stock cars. Tony Stewart is the only Indy Racing League driver who has had consistent success in NASCAR. But that obviously isn’t stopping her and it shouldn’t. No one, including Patrick, knows how she will perform until she spends some time behind the wheel trying to understand the characteristics of a race car that is much heavier than she is used to. So the learning curve could be large. If I remember correctly, Stewart didn’t exactly burn up the pavement until he graduated from what was then the Busch Series to the Cup level.
But will Patrick, who has been known to have a few fiery moments with her colleagues, fit in with the stock-car crowd? Well, it’s not like there aren’t other fiery individuals in stock-car racing. And they have managed to survive.
I’d love to see a rivalry develop between Patrick and another driver. I was a little disappointed that Tony Stewart and Juan Pablo Montoya smoothed over their differences at the end of this past season. I was hoping we would see a continuation of their fireworks next year. Racing needs a few rivalries. “I’m the new kid on campus,” Patrick said. “I will respect them completely, all of them. And we’ll go from there. I’m going to start with giving them all respect and if they don’t play fair out there, then we’ll address it as needed.”