After months of rumour and speculation – and denials and lies – Danica Patrick announced today that she will drive full-time for Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the NASCAR Nationwide Series in 2012 and up to a dozen Sprint Cup races for Tony Stewart.
So we knew all that. We’ve known it for months. It’s been no secret. So if you want more of the details of her media conference today in Phoenix, click here.
But this is what I want to know: Why did she make the announcement now? Who benefited from this? Nascar, maybe, but what do I know? I can tell you this, though. the IZOD IndyCar Series sure didn't.
Right after the announcement, she left right for Infineon Raceway in California, where the Indy cars are racing this weekend and where she is still employed by Andretti Autosport.
Do you think she’s going to be welcomed with open arms in that paddock?
Do you think she’s going to enjoy hearing the non-stop boos that will be directed her way from fans in attendance and on social media from now until the end of the IndyCar season in October?
Most important, do you think Andretti Autosport is going to do much more to prepare her car for a race beyond backing it off the trailer?
This was really a dumb thing to do because the timing was all wrong.
Why not wait till after the last checkered flag of the IndyCar season at Las Vegas in October? I could have written her script:
“I want to thank everyone I’ve worked with in Indy cars since I joined the series, starting with Bobby Rahal who gave me my first big chance as well as Michael Andretti. But the time has come for me to move on and while I regret I didn’t win the Indianapolis 500, I now have my sights set on Daytona. I wish everybody here in IndyCar, Randy Bernard and the rest of the drivers and teams, the best of luck and – who knows? – I might still see you at Indy sometime and since life takes strange twists and turns, I might even be back here in future.”
Now, that would have been a classy exit.
Doing what she did today (or her sponsor, GoDaddy, made her do) lacked class. Yes, she’s going to big league stock car racing but she didn’t have to throw the IndyCar Series under the bus on her way out.
I’m a big Danica Patrick fan. Or have been. And I knew this day was coming. If the announcement had come at the end of the season, so be it. But there are still five races to go and I’m angry at her for doing this now.
I hope when she gets to California that all the tires on her car are flat.
And if I had a GoDaddy account, I’d cancel it.