Chase for Danica taking spotlight from title fight

Published Oct. 13, 2009 12:12 a.m. ET

Despite the tight competition in the standings, Danica Patrick is eclipsing the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Just 12 points separate Jimmie Johnson and Mark Martin in the title fight, and Juan Pablo Montoya trails Hendrick's dynamic duo by 58 markers after averaging a 3.5-place finish in the first four events in NASCAR's postseason.

Danica on the brain

Move over: Danica isn't intimidated by boys — and she's not the only woman to make it in male-dominated sports.

Take a peek: Looking for more Danica? Check out a revealing look at the popular driver ... and her IndyCar ride.

Come on over: If Danica Patrick is serious about NASCAR, Dale Earnhardt Jr. says he would welcome her.

But the mere mention of Danica will knock either one of those storylines off the homepage of any website.

Ironically, Patrick hasn't even announced when or if she's serious about pursuing a career in stock cars. But certainly, if word should leak of Patrick's career plans this week, any blurb regarding the inaugural NASCAR Hall of Fame class will be tossed onto Page 2.

Although Patrick's contract was scheduled to end with Andretti Green Racing at the end of this season, she has reportedly re-upped for three additional years. In the interim, however, Patrick expressed an interest in competing in NASCAR — and ever since the speculation has been non-stop.

The next step for the 27-year-old, who just wrapped up her fifth season in the IndyCar Series Saturday with a 19th-place finish in the race and fifth in the point standing, could be decided as early as this week.

Eight-time championship team owner Rick Hendrick will certainly have his hand in the mix if Patrick's stock car training wheels come from JR Motorsports. On Sunday, Hendrick appeared non-committal when it came to the IndyCar darling. Hendrick was clear that NASCAR will survive with or without Patrick.

"I don't think she's important to the future of our sport," Hendrick said. "I mean, she would add a new dimension, maybe, if she participated in the Nationwide Series or the Cup Series one day.

"But I don't think that's going to make any difference where NASCAR is."

From a competition standpoint, Hendrick is right.


in this topic