When NASCAR's popularity hit the skids, its leaders decided to reinvent the brand. No more just going around in circles; they needed breakout personalities who could attract a younger, more diverse audience.
Sprint Cup rookie Danica Patrick, the pole sitter for Sunday's Daytona 500, is the perfect face for the new NASCAR. She's young, smart and media savvy. Seasoned in IndyCar, she's an experienced driver who can handle pressure and the constant spotlight.
She also makes history. Just as she's the first woman to start from the pole in NASCAR's Super Bowl, Patrick creates potential for landmarks every time she starts. That draws more viewers.
Daytona Danica also plays well to her sport's female audience; women make up more than 40 percent of NASCAR Nation.
Patrick won only once in 183 IndyCar starts, but she joined the right team for NASCAR success. Stewart-Haas Racing, co-owned by three-time Cup champion Tony Stewart, gave her a fast car and veteran crew chief Tony Gibson, who worked with Dale Earnhardt Jr.
In the No. 10 Chevrolet, Patrick can run up front. That's enough to keep NASCAR's new momentum rolling.
What to watch
Motor sports, Nationwide DRIVE4COPD 300, 10:15 a.m.: See how Elk Grove's Kyle Larson does in his Nationwide debut.
What to do
College baseball, UC Riverside at Sacramento State, DH, 11 a.m., John Smith Field: It should be a nice (if cool) spring day for baseball.
Whom do you most blame for the Kings' lack of success this season?
Basketball president Geoff Petrie
Coach Keith Smart
Vote above or leave your comments in the comments field; or go to www.sacbee.com/sports
Will you pull for Danica Patrick to win Sunday's Daytona 500?
I don't care: 35%
Total votes: 205
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Read more articles by Debbie Arrington
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