Two for the Road is a hangout for mystery writers Tammy Kaehler and Simon Wood to chat, reminisce, gossip, speculate and argue about all things motorsport.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Racing's Princess Goes to NASCAR ... Discuss

TAMMY: Well, the news has been confirmed. Racing's reigning princess is headed out to play with the big boys and the big money. Danica is going to NASCAR. On one hand, you could say NASCAR is already about as overhyped as you can get, so how can she add more? But I think she and NASCAR are made for each other. And could it be any more perfect that she'll be driving for Dale Earnhardt, Junior? I don't think so. It'll be more interesting to see her running with Tony Stewart's team for a handful of Sprint Cup races ... that will undoubtedly be less about hype and more about pure racing. Now, I make that sound like I think Danica's in it for the fame and money. I don't, really, but I do think she's capitalizing on it while she's got the opportunity (can I blame her? probably not). But Tony Stewart (Mr. I Hate the Media Game, himself) taking her on? That's kind of impressive. Simon, what do you think about her switch? And what do you think will be the impact on the series she leaves behind?

SIMON: For me, I’m quite happy to see her switch to NASCAR, because I really like the IRL and I think the media machine that surrounds her has gotten in the way of the championship. I don’t say that in a mean way. I think you hit the nail on the head when you say that she's capitalized on her situation and all credit to her. I don’t think any of us would do any different with the media attention if the tables were reversed. However, it did seem like that the TV coverage would focus on her and then the race, which was getting a little annoying. It’ll be interesting to see if she gets the media minutes in NASCAR, which has a lot of characters and legacy figures in its ranks already (something the IRL doesn’t possess—sorry guys). But this is all the gloss and shine. The real question is how well will she adapt to the racing. I can’t think of too many Indycar drivers who’ve adapted well to NASCAR. Dario Franchitti tried his hand a couple of seasons ago and sadly, didn’t do well. NASCAR races seem to possess a different rhythm from IRL races, so it’ll be down to how well she’ll adapt. I think she has left her mark on the IRL. She’ll be remembered as a real competitor. If she does well in NASCAR, she’ll do the same. If she doesn’t do well in NASCAR, she’ll be forgotten in a second. I hate to see anyone not do well, so I hope she gives NASCAR a run for their money as I enjoy the next IRL race.

TAMMY: Tony Stewart? He went from IndyCar to NASCAR, and he's done pretty well for himself, with two championships. And he's the one running her in the Sprint Cup series.... Should be interesting! What do the rest of you think?


  1. I agree with Simon that this may be a blessing in disguise for the IRL. That series now has an apparently stable sponsor (Izod), beautiful cars, a bunch of great drivers, an intriguing mix of tracks, and some genuine bad-blood rivalries. So maybe, just maybe, we can now focus on the race up front rather than Danica putting around in sixth place. (Didn't it seem like she always ran sixth? There's an expression: slower than the fast guys, faster than the slow guys.)

    As to Patrick: She is now set for life, and kudos to her for career management. Can she run up front? Can she be a legit contender to win races, absent fuel strategy or freak circumstances? I doubt it. She never showed that in IRL. She set her car up for comfy understeer, rather than absolute top speed. Here's the key: once she gets a season under her belt, watch her car setup at tracks like Bristol, Dover, Darlington and even Atlanta, where you need to drive on the right rear tire (that is, with a hint of power oversteer) to be fast. I hope I'm wrong, but I predict she will stick with reassuring understeer, sacrifice speed, and run 15th to 25th every week in between trips to the bank.

  2. Tony Stewart is a good exception, Tam Tam.

    Nice points, Steve. I think we'll have fun chatting when we get to meet in a couple of weeks.