Pa­trick has few op­tions

The Citizens' Voice - - Sports - BY DAN GELSTON

DOVER, Del. — Dan­ica Pa­trick was the dar­ling of Day­tona be­fore she put on a hel­met. Pa­trick ush­ered in the 2013 sea­son ac­com­pa­nied by hype per­haps no other NASCAR rookie had ever faced: Her love life, Su­per Bowl ads and racy photo shoots were trendy themes that gen­er­ated more en­thu­si­asm than her ac­tual ca­reer ac­com­plish­ments.

She was pro­jected as the new face of the sport — a face that cor­po­rate Amer­ica adored — was flush with spon­sor cash and was counted on as a role model for the next gen­er­a­tion of lit­tle girls and ca­sual fans. Pa­trick turned in the best fin­ish by a woman in the Day­tona 500.

It may turn out that her ca­reer peaked at Day­tona.

Her 182-race NASCAR Cup ca­reer has never yielded any­thing close to the Dani­ca­ma­nia that en­gulfed Day­tona. She never had a top-five fin­ish for Ste­wart-Hass Rac­ing. She never won an­other pole. She never had much suc­cess but, along with Earn­hardt, was still one of NASCAR’s only true main­stream stars. But as re­sults sank, so did in­ter­est in fund­ing her ride. Spon­sors bailed, cash dried up and at just 35, Pa­trick could be fac­ing the fi­nal seven races of her NASCAR ca­reer.

Pa­trick has, at least publicly, seemed at peace with this pos­si­bil­ity and said there has been lit­tle in­ter­est from other teams in bring­ing her aboard next sea­son.

“I’ve had some (dis­cus­sions) but not a ton,” she said Fri­day. “I let the busi­ness peo­ple in my busi­ness han­dle that and have those con­ver­sa­tions and fig­ure out what op­tions are out there and I con­tinue to let them do that.”

Even if Pa­trick some­how found a last-minute pri­mary spon­sor, rides are scarce for 2018. Richard Chil­dress Rac­ing and Fur­ni­ture Row Rac­ing could maybe field a car for her, and she won’t sign with a team that can’t of­fer a com­pet­i­tive ride.

Of course, Pa­trick made more of an im­pact than most driv­ers with a col­lec­tion of check­ered flags.

“The in­spi­ra­tion that you are told that you bring to peo­ple, es­pe­cially to kids,” she said. “That’s a role that you can’t buy your way into. You have to earn that. You can’t just stum­ble into that. That’s prob­a­bly the most mean­ing­ful.”

Truex wins pole

Martin Truex Jr. will try to win his sixth race of the sea­son from the pole at Dover In­ter­na­tional Speed­way in NASCAR’s third play­off race.

Truex turned a lap of 160.664 mph on Fri­day to win his sec­ond pole of the sea­son. Kyle Busch will start sec­ond, and Kyle Lar­son and Matt Kenseth start third and fourth.

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