In most major newspapers there has been a ratio each day of two articles about Danica Patrick to one article about anything else in racing. Most Gannett chain newspapers last Sunday carried two articles about Danica Patrick and a small paragraph with small print about Kevin Harvick winning the Bud Shootout. The largest percentage of television coverage has focused on her. ESPN even uses a picture of Danica for their promo graphic for the race at Daytona. And that race is NOT the Daytona 500. Get used to it. There may be even more about Danica in the coming weeks.
Danica had her first race in a stock car last week in the ARCA Slick Mist 200 which was won by Bobby Gerhart. Ratings for the ARCA race increased 87% from last year. The ARCA race had 2.4 million viewers. Last year there was 1.3 million viewers. Newspapers, television & radio all know that Danica Patrick means ratings. This means more potential money from advertisers; more ticket sales; more exposure for sponsors; more everything. That is good for ARCA, the NASCAR Nationwide series, stock car racing and motorsports in general.
While a lot of the exposure is due to this particular woman race car driver, realize she was not the only woman in the ARCA race. Jennifer Jo Cobb, fellow Indycar driver Milka Duno, Jill George & Leilani Munter also competed in the ARCA Slick Mist 200 at Daytona. In the Nationwide race another woman Crissy Wallace will also race. Danica is better known, made a number of magazine pictorials, television appearances, commercials and has achieved a higher level of success in auto racing. She is a marketing machine. While only one win in her Indycar career, she did finished fifth in points for 2009 (better than all her other Andretti Green teamates) and third in last year’s Indianapolis 500. She has proven she can race and compete, yes even against the men.
While a sixth place finish in the ARCA race is not winning, Danica showed she is not afraid of racing. She got spun out by former F1 driver Nelson Piquet, Jr., shuffled toward the back of the pack and agressivly worked her way towards the front again. She even banged doors with Ricky Carmichael. Often the argument against women in racing is that they are not agressive enough. Danica has proven she can be, which might set her apart. That also may account for more exposure of Danica Patrick in the coming months which is good for the sport.