The Official Danica Patrick Fan Site
Pretty good and interesting article.
I think one thing to note also is that there are a fair number of races to go. I think we're seeing improvement but as Danica warned last season, the growth would not always be rapid, and that there would be periods of slower, more tapered development. I've seen improvement in Danica's racing. She's getting better at restarts and is gaining more confidence in finding the limits of the car, which are important. I think what Danica probably needs to work on most is race-craft in these cars (she still doesn't seem to be as good at making passes happen/defending her position despite showing that she is capable of going fast), but she seems to be slowly getting better at this as well.
I don't think anyone expects for her to be competitive right out of the gate next year in the 2013 Cup Series. If her team and team owner Tony Stewart expects that, such an expectation I would say would be truly naive. However, I think once given time she will get to the point to where she will be competitive. Danica will continue to work and do what she has to do in order to get there. I really do believe she has the talent and ability to do it. It's just simply going to take time. I don't think we've come anywhere near the point where she is no longer improving and getting better.
I think it was a fair article... Danica has encountered quite a few misfortunes in races compared to others above her in the standings but that is part of racing. I've definitely seen progress in her racing this year, the best thing I've noticed is she totally understands the weakest part of her game at this point, which is speed in the middle part of a run. Her qualifying and restarts have improved this year. I also love her attitude in the last couple of weeks...don't worry about the results just concentrate on the process and learning.
In my opinion Danica should absolutely got to Sprint Cup next season as she has been planning. That would be my advice to her because after watching Danica's experiences in Nascar she is a relatively unique case in my opinion, and that means the typical advice isn't necessarily the correct advice. Unlike most new drivers entering Cup Danica already has learned the lessons of managing expectations and equipment. She's already learned not to over drive the equipment. She's already learned how to manage a season where she doesn't have the speed to compete up front. Her methodical learning style also sets her apart. It's the opposite of most new drivers entering Cup who got there by pushing the limits of the car. It's that methodical cautious learning style coupled with the experience and tools she has to manage the difficulties and challenges that makes me say she move to Cup. Here are some reasons related to that methodical learning style.
1. Track time. There is so much more track time in Cup because of the rules that have been put in place in Nationwide to limit costs. There's more track time for Danica because their is more practice time for Cup guys every weekend, there are additional Goodyear tire tests that only Cup drivers typically participate in, and the races every weekend are longer sometimes twice as long. All of that track time adds up and Danica will benefit more from that than running another full season of Nationwide given the way she slowly builds confidence and speed.
2. The difference between the cars. There's a huge difference the cars because the difference in horsepower running on the same size tires. Danica is going to be methodical and start slowly no matter what with a change like that, I believe she has reached the point in Nascar where it is more beneficial to start that transition sooner than later because I think I've seen enough to believe that she can keep her car in the top 35 in Cup.
I do think Danica still should run a decent amount of Nationwide races in addition to her full-time Cup schedule. I'd like to see at least 10 Nationwide races. There is more for her to learn about running up front in stock cars and the different strategies involved when you are running in the top 5, especially on restarts, which she will not experience in Cup. And I believe learning to drive the more difficult Cup cars will do a better job of helping Danica get the speed to run top 5 in Nationwide than doing another full season of Nationwide. She's already talked about how much it helps to go back to her Nationwide car after running her more difficult Cup car.
Scott - I agree with your assessment. It would be most beneficial if she could run a partial NNS schedule next year along with her Cup races. As much as we would enjoy watching her be competititve week after week in a second year in NNS, it would just delay her learning curve in Cup and possibly make it more difficult to transition if she has more time to learn "bad" habits driving the lower horsepower cars. With a partical schedule in the lower tier she would get several advantages with additional track time, the confidence of running up front and possibly the chance to win a race to get the haters off her back. I would be surprised if JRM wouldn't agree to run her part time in the 7 car next year if there were sponsorship.
Scott you make some great points. Just to add a bit to that we all need to remember in 2013 Sprint Cup everyone gets a new car...that means the field gets leveled out a bit between the veterans and the rookies (although it is still a COT chassis). Also, with the new car you will most likely see some additional testing sessions early in the season. NASCAR also floated out a few weeks ago the idea of opening testing back up somewhat on a limited basis by allowing teams 4-6 tests at NASCAR sanctioned tracks during the season (no decision on this idea yet).
Ideally, I'd like to see her run all of the companion events in Nationwide during 2013 but that will most likely require a new sponsor come aboard to help fund the ride. I'm not sure GoDaddy would want to put up full season money in both Cup and Nationwide but it would be a great opportunity to get a new sponsor on board.