Admit it. In the lull of the offseason, you almost forgot about Danicamania, didn't you? But she's back, dividing loyalties and inflaming passions, and this year she'll be taking her talents to Thunder Valley.
On March 19, Patrick is scheduled to run in the Scotts EZ Seed 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway, marking the first time she takes on a short track in NASCAR. It'll be the fourth start of what could be 14 Nationwide runs in 2011, and will mark the final early-season race she'll run before committing to her full IndyCar schedule.
"I can’t wait to compete there," Patrick said in a press release. "Not only will it provide a challenging circuit, but I also have a feeling it will be one of the most electric crowds I’ve ever been able to race in front of. It should be a fantastic show."
Danicamania will be unlike anything Bristol has seen lately, but it's not like the track hasn't hosted women drivers before. Patty Moise, Shawna Robinson and Tammy Jo Kirk all ran Nationwide races at Bristol. Moise, profiled here a few months back, placed 10th in 1998. Janet Guthrie finished sixth in a Sprint/Winston Cup race in 1977.
Bristol is terrifying for any driver who's thinking clearly, regardless of gender. How well Patrick gets through her first run there will go a long way toward determining her immediate future as a NASCAR driver.