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With a a couple of weeks yet until Daytona really gets going, I thought I might highlight some of the changes for 2013 for Danica that may have flown under the radar unlike the new car, Ricky, etc.

1. New spotter in Brandon  Benesch.  This is a pretty big change that I haven't seen discussed much even though the news came out a few weeks ago.  The driver/spotter relationship is so critical in Nascar, and probably even more so for Danica.  I remember last year in Daytona her new spotter for Cup and her did not mesh at all, and while it may not have contributed to either wreck in Cup it certainly didn't help ehr stress level.  At the end of last season there was some speculation about whether Tab Boyd would continue being her spotter this season especially once he took over spotting her Nationwide races from TJ as well, but Tab will be spotting for Joey Logano this season.  Her new spotter was her car chief at JRM.  I haven't been able to find out much about him other than he previously worked as a mechanic and spotted for Robby Gordon.  Does he anyone know if he's the guy she always seemed closest to on the team?  An image that sticks in my mind is Danica sitting on a hill at Road America with one guy from her team.  Other memories aren't as clear, but based on the pre-race waiting around she didn't seem closest to this tall dark haired guy.  I would assume if someone was going to leave to become her spotter it would be that guy, but I don't if that was Brandon or not. Either way at least it is someone she has a pre-existing working relationship with.  I thought Brad's spotter played a very significant role in Brad's success for example.  They have a dynamic relationship and trust between them.  Hopefully Danica can develop that with her new spotter.  I'll be interested to listen to what their dynamic will be like.

2. Random draw for qualifying order in Cup.  Qualifying for Cup will already be different with races typically no longer being impound races, but the random draw could also be a big help to her at times when track temperature or other factors play a significant role in qualifying times.  Plus with a late draw at times she'll be able to watch other guys qualify.  This rule change potentially mixes things up a bit.

3. She'll finally be attending driver meetings with Tony and Ryan.   One of the little surprises that came out of media tour was that Danica was able to only attend one meeting during her entire 10-race experience in Cup because of everything involved with Nationwide.  It makes sense once she said, but I think the assumption by the fans and the media was that she had been able to be at those meetings last year.  There is a resource she didn't have last season and didn't really have in Nationwide with only a rookie teammate last year.  This is really the first year when all the little pieces of a full support system are in place from a team fully invested in her future.  

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Good summary of changes...  So Scott what do you think are reasonable expectations for Danica in Cup this year?

First off you guys dont see much as this new Spotter news was in the media just like all Danica stuff last yr. Actually its more of a news story that this Brandon guy a chief mechanic or whatever, cant get a similar job as such with another nascar team. Rck Hendricks totally went in & gutted JRM so he could put Cup personel in  the NNS series showing how desperate he is to win in the NNs series. Iam getting to disrespect R Hendricks more & more every time I jhear a story about what he does. He buys million dollar cars at the auction but cant give Cole Whitt part of a NNs ride as facts are he clealry pays part of other drivers to run in his series for him. Hopefully Rousch, Penske and Turner, & RCR make JRM look bad this yr beating them every race?.

Far as Danica--she will have some good races maybe a few top 15 but moreso top 20 or top 25, but will have many bad races top 30 or worse on some tracks I believe. It all depends on how tough these new cars are for her to drive in comparison even to last yrs cars?  Its said these new cars have much less downforce or control then last yr so the drivers have to actually drive them moreso on all tracks and that may be tough for Danica moreso then others  but well see?

Vern! 

Having a mech as her spotter isn't really a bad thing; people that use TOOLS and WORK know things (ahem)... she will be in direct communication with someone who knows intuitively what she might be experiencing in the car. SYNERGY! They can be like maverick and goose!

Vern.

1.  Not sure how you assume Danica's new spotter took the job because he couldn't get a job doing something out.  I read it as Danica giving a promotion to somebody she has a relationship with and trust.   This news also came out last month, not last year.  In your desire to grind your ax against JRM I think you maybe twisting some things.  

2. What went on at JRM had nothing to with Rick Hendrick being desperate to win Nationwide races.  Junior is the one that is desperate for a race team he doesn't have to subsidize, which isn't an unrealistic goal.  Many of the personnel changes were driven not by Rick Hendrick so much as suggestions by Junior's crew chief, Steve Letarte.  Nationwide wins and championships have never been high on Rick Hendrick's list of goals.   

3. Cole Whitt isn't owed anything by Rick Hendrick.  Dale Jr. is the person that hired him based on recommendations from some other drivers when JRM was somewhat blindsided by Almirola getting a respectable Cup ride.    It was a hasty decision and probably a poor decision to hire Whitt.  He may have been ready to drive, but he wasn't ready to be attractive to sponsors to the degree that is needed on the Nationwide level.  Tough deal for Whitt, but I don't have a ton of sympathy for a kid who acted mostly like a jerk of a teammate.  And Whitt was never a Hendrick driver.  The only driver Rick Hendrick has under contract outside of his four Cup drivers is Chase Elliott, who is way down the development latter and not even old enough to race in the Truck or Nationwide series yet.          

4. The new cars aren't likely to have less downforce in the normal package.  The goal of the changes was to increase mechanical grip so that they would be less downforce dependent, which hopefully makes it easier to pass.    The new cars have more mechanical grip, but as the changes have evolved for 2013 the cars they moved away from also reducing the downforce.  The goal is to make the car easier to drive in traffic, not harder.  They have removed downforce and made the car harder to drive at Daytona and Talledaga, but that has to do with breaking up tandem pushing.    

I wouldn't be surprised to see that Brandon is working at Stewart-Haas Racing in some capacity in addition to his spotting duties.  If my memory is correct, the way Tony Gibson explained the search for a spotter it seemed as though Brandon was already working at SHR and it just made sense to use him as a spotter because of his spotting experience and his familiarity with Danica? 

As far as Cole in one way I'm suprised JRM hasn't seemed to have done more to get him in a car this year because he ran pretty well for them (definitely a better driver than Brad Sweet but Brad and Kasey are a package deal), he gave up RedBull as a personal sponsor to join JRM, and they seemed to really focus their program on him (especially after the Eury's were pushed out) last year.  But in another way I'm not surprised because he really was hard to listen to in interviews (nails on chalkboard for me), many of the sponsor functions they showed him attending he was often very casually dressed in t-shirt and jeans, and lets face it he is just young.  How does a 21 year old really sell Tax Preparation Web Services, Clean Coal, etc...?  I think that is a big issue in the sport today...they are bringing up these really young guys/gals and most sponsors don't want to invest millions of dollars in someone that young.



Scott said:

Vern.

1.  Not sure how you assume Danica's new spotter took the job because he couldn't get a job doing something out.  I read it as Danica giving a promotion to somebody she has a relationship with and trust.   This news also came out last month, not last year.  In your desire to grind your ax against JRM I think you maybe twisting some things.  

3. Cole Whitt isn't owed anything by Rick Hendrick.  Dale Jr. is the person that hired him based on recommendations from some other drivers when JRM was somewhat blindsided by Almirola getting a respectable Cup ride.    It was a hasty decision and probably a poor decision to hire Whitt.  He may have been ready to drive, but he wasn't ready to be attractive to sponsors to the degree that is needed on the Nationwide level.  Tough deal for Whitt, but I don't have a ton of sympathy for a kid who acted mostly like a jerk of a teammate.  And Whitt was never a Hendrick driver.  The only driver Rick Hendrick has under contract outside of his four Cup drivers is Chase Elliott, who is way down the development latter and not even old enough to race in the Truck or Nationwide series yet.          



Scott said:

Vern.

1.  Not sure how you assume Danica's new spotter took the job because he couldn't get a job doing something out.  I read it as Danica giving a promotion to somebody she has a relationship with and trust.   This news also came out last month, not last year.  In your desire to grind your ax against JRM I think you maybe twisting some things.  

Vern reply:

Your dillusional thinking being a spotter is a promotion from a chief mechanic--not hardly-- and only proves you know little about nascar.  I wasnt criticising Brandon, I was just makeing a statement of why he couldnt have kept his job at JRM as they still have the 7 car or why he couldnt get another job as mechanic--grow a brain before complaining about my comments that you clealry dont understand. Danica has had numerous sportters that left soon as they got their real jobs back, as some were drivers and or mechanic or crew personnel, as being a spotter is important yes--but doesnt pay squat compared to other jobs in nascar, Course maybe knowing Danica etc s may try to make sure he is getting more and will do other jobs for SHR hopefully.  Its a shame to not use a guy for his main strenghts in any job.thanks Hendricks for that one also  dumping him  and probably the 7 crew--you have no class..

2. What went on at JRM had nothing to with Rick Hendrick being desperate to win Nationwide races.  Junior is the one that is desperate for a race team he doesn't have to subsidize, which isn't an unrealistic goal.  Many of the personnel changes were driven not by Rick Hendrick so much as suggestions by Junior's crew chief, Steve Letarte.  Nationwide wins and championships have never been high on Rick Hendrick's list of goals.   

Vern reply:

You really have no clue do you as Rick Hendricks is part owner and moreso then anyone else and DOES call the shots with JRM--period.. It was in articles saying that Rick Henricks wanted changes made so JRM could win--period.  R Hendricks is ego driven so he gutted JRM as I stated plain and simple and now has Cup drivers in place other then Sweet to try to win for him--period. Also Whitt deserves a chance as Hendricks throws away more money on his own drivers then some deserve, and while he doesnt owe Whitt anything it would be peanuts to keep him in the ride rather then hire Sweet who clearly isnt as good just because Kayne likes Sweet. Hendricks may have achieved alot but most people know him to be ruthless and believe it or not isnt that well liked in nascar. Yes Ive followed Nascar and auto racing a very long time and its been quitely known for yrs that Kelly & Dale JR doesnt really run JRM unless Hendricks approves--end of story. You apparently dont know this story either which proves it--It was Rick Hendricks who went after Danica and since he had no place to put her in his stable and of course wasnt near ready for Cup anyway,  he put her in his NNS team with JRM. Yes-- Kelly got the credit becasue it made for good news but it was Hendricks idea first & foremost--believe it-- as nothing goes on with JRM that Hendricks doesnt control--.period.

3. Cole Whitt isn't owed anything by Rick Hendrick.  Dale Jr. is the person that hired him based on recommendations from some other drivers when JRM was somewhat blindsided by Almirola getting a respectable Cup ride.    It was a hasty decision and probably a poor decision to hire Whitt.  He may have been ready to drive, but he wasn't ready to be attractive to sponsors to the degree that is needed on the Nationwide level.  Tough deal for Whitt, but I don't have a ton of sympathy for a kid who acted mostly like a jerk of a teammate.  And Whitt was never a Hendrick driver.  The only driver Rick Hendrick has under contract outside of his four Cup drivers is Chase Elliott, who is way down the development latter and not even old enough to race in the Truck or Nationwide series yet.    

Vern reply:

Whitt was chosen because he had good stats so trying to run him down is stupid as they could have signed others but they chose him when they did becasue of his talent. Like I said seriously --watch some nascar news some time which explains why they pick some drivers over others.. Also they werent that blindsighted  by Amirola getting a Cup ride as he had filled in alot in Cup so they had to of known?    

4. The new cars aren't likely to have less downforce in the normal package.  The goal of the changes was to increase mechanical grip so that they would be less downforce dependent, which hopefully makes it easier to pass.    The new cars have more mechanical grip, but as the changes have evolved for 2013 the cars they moved away from also reducing the downforce.  The goal is to make the car easier to drive in traffic, not harder.  They have removed downforce and made the car harder to drive at Daytona and Talledaga, but that has to do with breaking up tandem pushing.    

Vern reply:

Like i said watch some Nascar mainly the news talking about the new cars. Facts are the new cars are designed for less downforce in all areas, and lighter and hopefully making them tougher to driver with a smaller rear spoiler etc among other things. Nascar doesnt talk much about downforce as they generall have very little except on the bigger tracks but since they are talking loads about lack of downforce on this new car and the drivers say then can notice it in testing and not just daytona but charlotte as well and others tracks, then it must be a factor?. I dont really care but if these cars are tougher for the veterans to drive then danica is going to have her hands full this yr for sure.

To Add--some saying a mechanic is good as a apotter, not nearly as good as a real driver or past driver who knows the tracks and how to assist her in learning how to drive them. Danicas best spotter ever was the old Truck series Champion who showed up and helped her drive the tracks and with him where he heloped her get the 4th at Vegas and did well at other tracks before he left to go back to racing himself, which as i said any spotter would rather do.. No other spotter has been as good,  as some of her wrecks might have been avoided if she had better spotters as even the media said on a couple wrecks she had might have been avoided if the spotter would have done his job. Guess well see and iam sure Danica is confortable with Brandon but he isnt a past driver so he wont be helping her in some areas, course Iam sure her CC or temmates might help there--say a prayer?

Also regarding R Hendricks gutting JRM why do you think Danica has to look for another PT team this yr in NNS? Because Hendricks didnt want her back even PT as he is stacking the deck with Cup drivers to win at JRM--period--with no regard for Danica any longer.

BTW on that note--Race Hub just had the Turner/Scott guys on and they discussed their 3 FT drivers this yr and did NOT mention Danica running PT for them and now Iam concerned. She could end up with nothing or with a team like Turner maxed out who is focusing on its FT drivers moreso and will give Danica nothing but trainees and worse cars then she had at times with JRM if she has a ride at all, course I believe they commented that Beusher will run some PT races so --yeh-h--those 2 love each other after all--good grief if that happens?  Bad move from her IMG manager for sure not to take the RCR ride offered her last yr PT--just stupid. Hopefully everything works out but taking this long something doesnt seem right--Oh well she has Cup.

Here is a pretty interesting technical discussion with Tony Gibson...

http://www.frontstretch.com/mneff/42308/

Would be nice if someone could convince Vern that badmouthing other members of this site is not acceptable.  There is such a thing as civility, not to mention maturity.

Scott said:

Vern.

1.  Not sure how you assume Danica's new spotter took the job because he couldn't get a job doing something out.  I read it as Danica giving a promotion to somebody she has a relationship with and trust.   This news also came out last month, not last year.  In your desire to grind your ax against JRM I think you maybe twisting some things.  

2. What went on at JRM had nothing to with Rick Hendrick being desperate to win Nationwide races.  Junior is the one that is desperate for a race team he doesn't have to subsidize, which isn't an unrealistic goal.  Many of the personnel changes were driven not by Rick Hendrick so much as suggestions by Junior's crew chief, Steve Letarte.  Nationwide wins and championships have never been high on Rick Hendrick's list of goals.   

3. Cole Whitt isn't owed anything by Rick Hendrick.  Dale Jr. is the person that hired him based on recommendations from some other drivers when JRM was somewhat blindsided by Almirola getting a respectable Cup ride.    It was a hasty decision and probably a poor decision to hire Whitt.  He may have been ready to drive, but he wasn't ready to be attractive to sponsors to the degree that is needed on the Nationwide level.  Tough deal for Whitt, but I don't have a ton of sympathy for a kid who acted mostly like a jerk of a teammate.  And Whitt was never a Hendrick driver.  The only driver Rick Hendrick has under contract outside of his four Cup drivers is Chase Elliott, who is way down the development latter and not even old enough to race in the Truck or Nationwide series yet.          

4. The new cars aren't likely to have less downforce in the normal package.  The goal of the changes was to increase mechanical grip so that they would be less downforce dependent, which hopefully makes it easier to pass.    The new cars have more mechanical grip, but as the changes have evolved for 2013 the cars they moved away from also reducing the downforce.  The goal is to make the car easier to drive in traffic, not harder.  They have removed downforce and made the car harder to drive at Daytona and Talledaga, but that has to do with breaking up tandem pushing.    

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