Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Danica Patrick/JR Motorsports Gifts NASCAR Media with Press Conference

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After a little more than a week since Danica Patrick's official announcement to joining JR Motorsports for a part-time Nationwide schedule, it is fair to say that Christmas definitely came early for the NASCAR media. Traditionally, the entire month of December would have usually been the dullest time in stock car racing allowing journalists to write holiday gift guides or year in review stories (XSL Speed Reporter has some of those stories prepared to post in the coming days). Thanks to an intense infatuation with Danica Patrick much of the motorsport media shares, December of 2009 will be one of the most active off-season breaks in NASCAR history.

On Thursday, 45 minute press conference has been scheduled at the JR Motorsports shop in Mooresville, North Carolina. Dale Earnhardt Jr, Kelly Earnhardt, Tony Eury Sr and Jr as well as the driver of the #7 Godaddy Chevrolet in the 2010 NASCAR Nationwide Series tour are slated to entertain the press before Patrick sets out on her first open test piloting an ARCA stock car in Daytona. Attendance at the event will include esteemed members of the press plus 20 JR Nation Fan Club members who can ask the panel questions (Danica Patrick's NASCAR Nationwide schedule for 2010 would probably be a leading question). A simple question and answer period without a significant announcement, live access will be unprecedented. Apart from a regular webstream which will be required on, cable television channel Speed and XM/Sirius satellite radio channels 128 are broadcasting the outreach event. On satellite radio, the press conference will be followed by up to 3 hours of analysis (yikes!).

With such attention drawn onto Danica Patrick, it is mildly disturbing that the appetite for the driver has preceded her stock car racing efforts at the track. As Danica Patrick attends the 3-day test at Daytona International Speedway in preparation for the ARCA stock car series' debut, she may be learning more about the NASCAR media than racing a stock car. Of course Patrick has experienced five seasons under the brightest spotlight in IndyCar racing.

With all due respect to the ARCA Remax Series, the Daytona 200 mile event has historically been grounds for major NASCAR teams to run a one-off effort to showcase their latest drivers. Through testing and the race in early February, JR Motorsports will most certainly make use of Hendrick Motorsports cars and expertise putting Patrick several steps ahead even before hitting the track. When Danica Patrick finally gets a chance to leave the motorsport press behind, the first true display of the famous racing female's driving abilities in a full-bodied stock car should provide an intriguing 2010 Nationwide Series season.

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