I find it kind of weird to write a about a rumor (that is exactly what it is- a rumor- as Stewart-Haas Racing tweeted on August 17 that “it’s all speculation until you hear it from Tony Stewart” and I don’t know about you all- but Tony hasn’t called* to tell me anything so I will continue to treat it as such until I read a formal announcement). The silly season stuff can get kind of crazy and I don’t really delve too deeply into it because it’s all speculation anyway. But you know if has to do with Stewart-Haas Racing I am probably going to at least ponder it, and possibly even write about it.
In case you haven’t heard the exact details of said rumor, or didn’t click the link above, it is being said that next year Danica Patrick will be driving a full NASCAR Nationwide Series schedule for JR Motorsports and several (I have seen everything from 5 to 10) Sprint Cup races under the Stewart-Haas Racing banner. There is also talk of Stewart-Haas Racing having an option to sign Danica as a full-time Sprint Cup driver in 2013.
IF this RUMOR is true, I have a couple of different thoughts about Danica coming to NASCAR full time and in specific to Stewart-Haas Racing. My first instincts, are of course, to look at Danica’s previous performance in other series. As an IRL racer, she has won ONE race. Yes I do know that she is a woman and that is an accomplishment as a “female” driver. I could wax on and on about gender equality in motorsports, which would lead to the whole gender vs. career discussion and honestly I just don’t want to go there. In her Nationwide races, she has yet to win, however she is not currently running a full Nationwide schedule. So taking gender out of the picture, her statistics are mediocre to me.
So that got me wondering, why on sweet earth would Stewart-Haas take on a third driver who is not only newish to the sport, but still on a learning curve and has had mediocre results from her IRL career? Part of my brain screams…cuz they are CRAZY. I am sure part of your brain screams that too. After all, one race? Heck, I don’t follow IRL and I haven’t in many years but that seems a bit of a crazy investment to me. That is at first glance.
However, that got me thinking about what I like to call the Danica Effect, and that makes me think that perhaps, just perhaps SHR is crazy– crazy like a fox.
What is the Danica Effect you ask? Let me try to explain. The Danica Effect combines novelty, sex appeal (hey she puts it out there in the Go Daddy commercials- so I am not inventing it people), PR spin, and something else I can’t quite put my finger on- possibly charisma. Put that all in a pot and swirl it all together And you have The Danica Effect.
Well, what’s it do? The Danica Effect causes interest in Danica and anything she does to go WAY UP. How do I know? I have seen the Danica Effect in effect couple of different ways:
I have seen it at the track. When she started in Nationwide, the amount of people at her merchandise trailer at the tracks I went to were right up there with Cup established cup regulars like Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. I don’t have any numbers to support this but I can always tell how popular a driver is by the number of people lined up at the merchandise trailer. It’s been my experience that Jr is the most popular (biggest crowd around the trailer), with Jeff Gordon a definite second and Tony a solid third. Danica was right up there with them at tracks where there was a Danica merchandise trailer at races I have personally attended. Hello merchandise sales.
I have seen it on social media- love her, hate her, could care less one way or the other about her- but people are talking about her. That right there is exposure of the mostly free kind. People are talking and when people are talking there is buzz. And buzz equals interest and exposure to anything she is sponsored by…whether it be Go Daddy, COPD or Tissot. That is what sponsors want- visibility. Sponsors obviously like visibility because that is money in their pocket.
I have seen it right here on this blog in my stats. When I talk Danica- stats generally spike way up from the average for that week. Especially my most recent post where I talked about her being on THE DOCTORS on TV. I am still getting hits for that post and it was four months ago.
This tells me that Danica Patrick as a brand drives an interest that more than likely has numbers behind it. I don’t know if team as the owning entity get portions of merchandising. I am sure it is completely dependent on complicated things like contracts and includes math which I have told you in the past-I am not good at. But even if they didn’t get any portion of merchandising (and I am assuming they do) the interest in her alone would be good for attracting other sponsors and attention to those associate sponsors. The whole idea about sponsorship is they want exposure and exposure is what Danica will bring (get your mind out of the gutter- I am talking about exposure for sponsor products and services).
So see why I think SHR, if this deal comes to fruition, is crazy like a fox? While the fan in me waffles about Danica’s presence overall, I can’t help but think that the Danica Effect wouldn’t help the all three teams overall.
*NOTE: Tony Stewart has NOT called me ever – whether it be to say hello, danica’s my driver, mind your own beeswax, or ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING else. I hold no delusions of grandeur. If he did call me, I would probably fall over dead immediately. Then I would wake up as a ghost and wonder how the hell he got my number.
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