Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Danica Patrick Survives 3rd Crash to Finish Daytona 500


Is Danica the reincarnation of the ancient Irish Goddess Morrigan?

We said she was the toughest super model in NASCAR and after her first weekend at the Daytona Speedway as a fulltime NASCAR driver she demonstrated in a way that would make the ancient Irish Goddess Morrigan proud.

In three straight races including the 500 the bad boys of NASCAR knocked her car into walls and wrecks that many a person might not have survived but not Danica, the new ratings queen of the speedway.

Like a cat with nine lives she climbed back into her car for another 200 mph challenge to the men's club of stock car racing.  Even in the five car pile up in just the second lap of the 500 classic, as her car limped back to the pits with the rear end destroyed and the sheet metal battered, this spunky little Irish lass refused to get out of the car in the shop, insisting on staying in the battered machine until extensive repairs were made so she could continue the race.

With her Irish heritage Danica reminds me of Morrigan of ancient Irish mythology, a fearless dispenser of courage and Goddess of victory.  She proved that on the Indy car circuit before moving to NASCAR and demonstrated it again with her courage to finish the race.  It took 65 laps before her car was repaired enough to reenter the race but she came flying out of the pits to the wild ovation of the 176,000 fans and millions of prime time television viewers who were still waiting to see if she could survive.

In the end she finished while the likes of legendary Jimmy Johnson who plowed into her car and Jeff Gordon did not finish.  In fact nearly a dozen of the guys didn't finish in this most bizarre of all Daytona 500 races.

This year's Daytona had a series of most unusual firsts that must have been brought in on the wings of the Irish lass.

It was the first Daytona 500 rained out.  When the second start time at noon Monday was also rained out it became the first Monday night prime time television broadcast of the 500, bringing NASCAR to perhaps millions of new fans.

It was also the first Daytona 500 to get a red flag, meaning the race was stopped cold, because of a jet fuel explosion on the track during the 160th lap.  No NASCAR does not allow jet fuel in the cars though the speeds they reach over 200 mph might seem like it.

This time a truck was on the upper part of the track with a jet engine to dry the track and a race car who was supposed to be passing it at the bottom of the track suddenly swerved into the jet dryer causing a massive eruption of the jet fuel on the truck.  It took nearly an hour to put out the fire and clean the track before the race could be restarted.

It was also the longest Daytona 500 in history taking over 36 hours to finish from the original starting time.  The race extended from noon Sunday until the wee hours of Tuesday morning.

In spite of about ten wrecks, some multi-car, the rains and the jet fuel explosion, it was an electrifying mad dash to the finish that was won by Matt Kenseth over Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

And after surviving three major crashes between Thursday and Monday across the finish line came Danica Patrick fresh from her introduction into the men's club of NASCAR.

NASCAR and Fox television surely got a massive bump in television ratings because of Danica along with the delay of the race until prime time Monday.  She was also one of few new drivers who brought her own major sponsors to the sport.

In fact Go Daddy, the Internet domain company who sponsors her has put her in more Super Bowl commercials, ten, than any other sports star and they are the most expensive commercials on television at $3.5 million each.  Not only did they sponsor her but they were a presenting sponsor for the Daytona 500 Nationwide broadcast.

“I did not sponsor Danica because I wanted to get into racing,” Bob Parsons, head of Go Daddy said. “I got into racing because I wanted to sponsor Danica. If it wasn’t for Danica, I’m not sure I’d be involved in racing.”

The best news is we only have to wait a few days to see her second NASCAR race in Phoenix this weekend.

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