Indy Car vs. Nascar: What should Danica choose?
With her near win and eventual 10th place finish during Friday night's Subway Jalapeno 250 at Daytona International Speedway, the speculation continues to swirl on whether or not she will, or should, make the jump to the NASCAR ranks full-time.
She's run just six races in the Nationwide Series this season, but she already has two top ten finishes, compared with last season where she started in 13 NASCAR Nationwide Series races, with no top ten finishes.
Crew chief Tony Eury Jr. remarked on how he'd have been happy with a lead lap top-25 finish for Danica Patrick last year as she was gaining experience with the cars and tracks. Nowadays, he expects top-10's, specifically a top-eight or bust at Daytona for Friday night's race.
While she came up two positions short on that goal, she led 13 laps, which was the same amount of laps that NASCAR Sprint Cup regular Kevin Harvick paced the field. Quite impressive when you consider she's split her time essentially with the stock cars and open wheel vehicles of the NASCAR and IZOD IndyCar circuits.
With more seat time since last season, she's been able to improve her comfort in stock cars. One can only wonder what more practice and time will do for her stats - and if wins are in the offing for the Roscoe, IL native.
Remember how she couldn't get through a race without crashing her car, either of her own doing or by getting swept up in someone else's incident?
Nowadays, there's a confident Danica Patrick, not one who's confused with what adjustments she wants with her car or struggling with how the car feels in terms of handling characteristics.
On the other side, she has had some success in the IndyCar series. So far in the 2011 season, she has five top-ten finishes in nine starts, which explains for her 10th place points position in that racing division.
However, she hasn't been able to duplicate her 2008 win at Motegi nor her consistency of the 2007 season.
Then again, she's made it clear that she wants to win the Indianapolis 500 and following this year's “Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” she was elated to lead the race, but was disappointed about coming up short for the win.
Much like her open-wheel contemporary turned stock car sensation Tony Stewart, she would love to hoist a trophy at The Brickyard in the worst way possible.
Only Danica knows what she will do next season, but it seems like the odds are in her favor either way. Just by having her name branded to a shirt or a die-cast car, the almighty dollar and support will follow.
The fan base in either series is strong and loyal, and if the manic Dale Jr-esque screams when Danica took the lead at Daytona are any indication, the NASCAR fan base are (finally) taking a liking to her.