Danica Patrick has no solid plans in place for the 2018 season. However Friday in Homestead we may get a more solid look at what to expect from Patrick in 2018. Those plans include some possible TV work as well as some driving opportunities.
Her driving career might not be over just yet. She lost her #10 ride in 2018 to Aric Almirola. However, she is reportedly looking at racing some in 2018. Not just some races, rather just the two biggest races in North America.
According to USA Today, Patrick is in talks to run the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500 in 2018. When Kasey Kahne was a free agent earlier in the year he mentioned a similar sort of plan. Danica appears to be headed that direction while also potentially signing with NBC to work on NASCAR coverage.
If Danica is looking to run the two 500 mile races she has a fighting chance in both of them. Danica earned her only NASCAR pole at the Daytona 500. Her average finish however in the Daytona 500 is only 29.2. Not the best average finish but Daytona is unpredictable and maybe 2018 is her year.
Danica and the Indianapolis 500 is a different story. She hasn’t raced an IndyCar at the speedway since 2011 when she finished 10th. Her average finish in the 500 is a solid 8.7 which includes a career-best 3rd in 2009. In 2018 the IndyCar series will be using new bodywork on a car Danica has never driven. Weirdly enough it could play into her benefit since most drivers will have limited time with the package.
Of course, the hard part of this deal is finding two quality rides. Finding a ride for the Indy 500 is easier, a sponsor, an engine and you could be in at a team like SPM or someone of that caliber. Hell, maybe Ganassi would run a third car for her if Larson isn’t interested. Finding a competitive car for the Daytona 500 is the bigger issue. RCR could field a one-off car for her, same with Roush. There aren’t many teams out there that could accommodate a one-off entry.
One-off attempts used to be a big thing in years past. There were years drivers would show up at Indy and walk through the garage looking for a ride and literally signed the papers there before hopping in a car. Pretty sure Tony Stewart did that once. Daytona is much of the same, some people only came over to race that one race. Danica can be the next Kirk Shelmerdine if she plays her cards right.
Finding sponsorship for a one-off race in the two biggest races in North America shouldn’t be difficult. Danica still has legions of fans and remains a media darling. She’s highly marketable on a certain budget. No one is willing to spend $20M on her a year but someone is willing to spend $3M on her for the two biggest races of the year.
Danica is ready to leave yet.
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