COMMENTARY | After the Sprint All-Star Race fan vote on Saturday, it is evident that the fans want to see more of Danica Patrick. This is just the most recent example of how Danica is a great thing for NASCAR.
Danica beat out a list of many great drivers with an even longer list of accomplishments between them. Even though her only real accomplishment thus far in the season was earning the pole at the season-opening Daytona 500, the fans seem to want to get as much of her as they can.
Many people have said they don't particularly agree with Danica getting so much attention from the media when she has not even been a factor in the last 10 races this season. This fan vote explains it perfectly -- the fans want to see her race and know where she is running at any given point in the race. The issue has become so big that Mike Joy even made sure to mention it during the All-Star Race coverage, saying that if she won the vote it explains why she gets all the attention she does.
It's clear that it's obviously not going to be Danica's time in NASCAR anytime soon, but she is also clearly bringing a whole new view and life to the sport that wasn't there before her appearance. A new group of fans have surfaced along with a new fire amongst the die-hard fans that have been around for years.
Just looking at what is being said about Danica all over the Internet, shows the great divide that has formed since she came into NASCAR and actually started making some sort of impact. It seems that either you love her or you hate her but no matter what, you have an opinion on her. This is inherently great for the sport as a whole.
The closest comparison to Danica's impact on NASCAR is that of Dale Earnhardt Jr. Everyone either loves him or loves to hates him -- and many of the same things that have been said about Danica have been said about Earnhardt as well.
Many people say that he has just been living off of his father's name with very few good results to show his true belonging until fairly recently when he has started to put together more consistent runs throughout the season. This is the area that Danica may soon find herself in when she begins to get to a point that she can actually race with the big boys week to week.
People may say that Danica does not deserve all the attention she is getting, but they are giving her just as much attention by saying that she doesn't deserve it every chance that they get. This is a perfect example of how she is so great for this sport. Every week people are tuning in not only to see who wins and where his or her driver finished, but also to see just how good or bad Danica finished, depending on your thoughts about her.
I have previously said that I don't think Danica should be in Sprint Cup this year with how little experience she really has in a stock car and that she is actually holding back Stewart-Haas Racing this season. The fact that she has such a huge backing and history leading up to her time in NASCAR benefits the sport greatly, though.
One thing that is evident thus far this season is that Danica is slowly figuring out the new car and ways of driving since moving into this new environment. As her abilities develop to the levels where she can start competing within races, her benefit to the sport will just become larger and larger. The better she performs, the more that divide with truly grow as people's various opinions of her as a driver will just escalate to astronomical levels.
Matt Fitzgerald lives in Las Vegas and has been following NASCAR for 15 years now. He never misses a race and goes to as many as possible at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
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