Can Patrick realise ‘Danica Double’?
DANICA Patrick’s hopes of closing out her racing career with the 2018 Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500 races – the ‘‘Danica Double’’ – have hit a major dead end. But there’s still a chance, especially at Indianapolis, for her to find rides.
The president of Chip Ganassi Racing on Friday said the organisation was no longer holding discussions with Patrick about having her drive one of its cars in the races.
Ganassi is one of two teams that fields cars in both the Nascar Cup Series and Verizon IndyCar circuits, and thus could offer Patrick a ride in the most prestigious race on each circuit.
Steve Lauletta made the comments on SiriusXM Nascar Radio’s Dialed In show, according to NBC Sports.
‘‘We’re not talking any longer,’’ Lauletta said. ‘‘I think it would have made sense, and we did have conversations if she wanted to run in both races, the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500, and ultimately we couldn’t come to a solution that worked for both of us.’’
Team Penske, the other racing organisation that runs cars in both Nascar’s and the open-wheel IndyCar’s top circuits, ruled out running an extra car for Patrick at the Indy 500 not long after she confirmed her retirement in November.
Patrick competed on both circuits during her racing career. She was the first woman to win an IndyCar race, the 2008 Japan 300, and finished third in the 2009 Indy 500. She was open-wheel circuit’s most popular driver for several years. With Nascar, Patrick became the first woman to take a Cup Series pole, for the 2013 Daytona 500.
According to USA TODAY, both Patrick and Ganassi confirmed in November that talks had taken place about a ‘‘Danica Double’’.
While those talks have ended, Lauletta said he still thinks Danica will find a ride for the May 27 Indy 500.
‘‘ . . . She knows her way around,’’ Lauletta said. ‘‘There are teams that run just the Indianapolis 500 because of the size of the event itself and the history of it. I think that they’ll be able to put something together and certainly wish them luck.’’
A typical Indy 500 television audience includes sports fans who wouldn’t normally watch an IndyCar race, or even any other motorsports event.
The audience, 5.5 million viewers in 2017, and the payout – reportedly US$2.5 million for the winner last year with a total purse topping US$13.2 million – gives part-time drivers, such as Patrick, a chance to find an organisation that’s willing to invest the money needed for a single race.
The Daytona 500 has an even larger total purse – reportedly US$18m total in 2015, the last season Nascar released money totals for each race. But with that race just a little more than a month away – practices begin February 10 – the window is closing.
It’s been nearly two months since Patrick announced at Homestead-Miami Raceway that the 2018 Daytona 500 and Indy 500 would close out her racing career and the 2017 Nascar Cup Series season would be her last as a fulltime driver. Now the Ford Ecoboost 400 two days later may end up being the final race of her career. – McClatchy
Danika Patrick has competed in both Nascar and IndyCars.