July 14, 2009
Racing/media darling Danica Patrick set hearts aflutter this week as she made a very public visit to Stewart-Haas Racing's shop on Monday. Patrick, who's carried on a months-long flirtation with NASCAR, surely knew she would send everybody into fits of speculation with the visit, but SHR officials tried hard to tamp down false hopes:
"Danica has had a standing invitation to visit Stewart-Haas Racing since Tony announced his intentions to become a driver/owner in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series a year ago," SHR spokesman Mike Arning said in an email to Scene Daily. "We simply facilitated a tour of the facility and introduced her to a handful of people who were at Stewart-Haas Racing." Smoke himself was not present, being in Atlanta to test Goodyear tires.
Now, it's obvious that this was done at least partly for PR purposes, but to what end? The NASCAR Insiders have an idea:
[I]f my suspicions are correct, the incredibly public appearance of Danica Patrick at Stewart Haas on Monday is little more than posturing. High profile visits and meetings between team owners, management and prospective drivers are seldom done in public locations in the middle of the day ... However, if you're Danica Patrick and you're looking for instant media coverage and furthered speculation about your plans, showing up to a well trafficked NASCAR shop in the middle of the day is a good way to get what you seek.
Mission accomplished, Danica!
Still, there's always the possibility that this is an overture to greater things. In an exclusive interview with The Marbles to be published here tomorrow, Stewart had this to say in response to a question about possibly adding Danica Patrick as a third team: "As far as a third team goes, I think right now the biggest thing is you've got to make sure you can fund it first. You can build a team, but if you don't have the money to run it, it's not going to work. So, making sure that you've got proper funding is obviously the biggest thing."
Think he'd have any trouble funding a team with Danica Patrick behind the wheel? Yeah, me neither. That's not an admission that Danica will be running under the SHR banner next year, but it's not exactly a blanket denunciation of the possibility, is it?
Danica Patrick makes a visit to Stewart-Haas Racing [Scene Daily]
How to scare away sponsors, and Danica Patrick [The NASCAR Insiders]
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