For those of you who spent the entire NASCAR off-season under a rock, IZOD Indy Car Series driver Danica Patrick made her stock-car racing debut in the ARCA RE/MAX Series race at Daytona. The goal was to get Patrick used to the big, heavy stock cars and the draft before attempting to put her in the Nationwide Series opener at Daytona .
Patrick garnered a lot of press attention in her decision to move over to stock cars, and she garnered a lot of attention in the ARCA race coverage. At one point, I could have sworn it said the ARCA Danica Racing Series. Of course, I could be mistaken.
Patrick proved to be a quick study, staying in the lead draft and stayed out of trouble for the first half of the race. Around lap 50, she got loose, and out of the groove. She was quickly shuffled to the back. Three laps later, Nelson Piquet Jr, the former Formula One driver who was also making his stock car debut, made contact with Patrick, sending her spinning through the infield grass.
Patrick made an amazing save — at one point completely letting go of the wheel (she may have been praying) — and kept the car off the wall. (Conspiracy theorists might speculate that her car was radio controlled.)
She made two pit stops to stay on the lead lap and used a late caution to catch the lead draft. She battled back to a very respectable sixth place finish.
Patrick stayed calm and cool in the race car and was very patient, something she’s not really known for in Indy Car.
As we all know, one race does not a stock car career make, but she did exactly what she had to in her first outting. Good for her.
On Monday, the decision will be made as to whether or not she starts the Nationwide Series opener at Daytona.