Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR
By: Katie Copple – Follow on Twitter @Katie_Copple
What is in store for one of the Sprint Cup Series Rookie of the Year contenders and NASCARs most recognizable and polarizing figure? Well, we are about to find out. Danica Patrick, making the jump to full time Sprint Cup Series after just one full and two part time seasons in the Nationwide Series, will have a lot on her plate in 2013.
After 7 seasons in the IndyCar circuit, Danica left after the 2011 season to pursue a career in Stock Cars. In 2005, the name “Danica Patrick” was known worldwide after she became the first woman to lead the Indianapolis 500 in her Rookie year and eventually finished fourth, the highest finish for a woman. She would later go on to break her own record a few years later when she finished third in 2009. In 2008, she became the first woman to win an IRL sanctioned event when she won at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan. In her seven seasons in the series, she finished in the top-10 in points six times with her best being fifth. Although she may not have the wins to show for it, Danica was definitely one of the most competitive cars on the track, and that hasn’t changed in her trek into NASCAR.
In 2010, Danica got her first taste of stock cars running a partial Nationwide Series schedule for JR Motorsports and still competing full time in the IndyCar circuit. She did the same in 2011 but ultimately decided to move full time to NASCAR, leaving her IndyCar roots behind. Finishing tenth in the Nationwide Series standings last season, Danica’s results were anything but impressive, leaving many asking whether or not she was ready for the Cup series. Danica and the No. 7 GoDaddy team was one of a variety of teams that fell to bad luck. With crashed cars, blown tires and even running over a shoe, her results didn’t show how much she had really improved in 2012.
Also in 2012, Danica got her first taste of Sprint Cup Series racing when she signed with Stewart-Hass Racing. Driving the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevy, team owner Tony Stewart selected ten of the toughest races on the schedule for Danica to run. With tracks like Daytona, Darlington, Dover and Bristol all making the list, Danica improved each weekend. In her final Cup start in Phoenix, she was wall on her way to a top 15 finish before hitting the wall and finishing 17th.
Like it or not, Danica will be taking on the big boys in the Sprint Cup Series this season. During the recent test session in Daytona, Danica was in the top-10 on the board the entire weekend, even leading most of the final morning session. Team owner Tony Stewart opted out of giving Danica his points in order to guarantee her a spot in the Daytona 500. He believes that she has the talent and ability to race in like everyone else. The first few races this season will be a telltale sign as to whether or not Danica is ready for Sprint Cup. All I can say is, move over boys, the lady is coming through.