Monday, September 7, 2009
ESPN's Ed Hinton: Danica Patrick in Nationwide And Truck Series In 2010
Leave it to good old Ed Hinton to cut through the clutter and innuendo that was floating around the Atlanta Motor Speedway on Saturday. The topic was Danica Patrick's NASCAR plans and Hinton just spelled it out for NASCAR Now viewers on Sunday morning.
"A source who is golden tells me that her NASCAR schedule will be a learning schedule next year," said Hinton to host Nicole Manske. "It will be built to accommodate her full IndyCar schedule."
"She is going to do a significant number of Nationwide Series races, she is going to do some truck series races, she is in this to learn," continued Hinton. "Tony Stewart is almost certainly going to sign-on as her partner and mentor in this venture."
On the subject of who would provide cars and trucks for her next season. "I am hearing more and more that Kevin Harvick fits the bill because KHI fields both trucks and Nationwide cars," said Hinton. "She will do it very much like Tony did it in 1998. He ran the full IRL schedule and 22 then Busch Series races."
On the subject of funding for Patrick's NASCAR efforts, Hinton continued to make himself very clear. "Sponsorship is not going to be an issue for the top female driver in the world," said Hinton. "Chevrolet appears to be the leader in the club house (with both SHR and KHI in Chevys). Whatever manufacturer signs Danica, that is going to be a huge branding boost for them."
Like a good veteran journalist, Hinton closed with a recap of this high-profile story. "I have been told it is all but certain that she will be in NASCAR next year," he said.
Update: Click here for a direct link to the ESPN.com version of Hinton's story.
Hinton has not had a high-profile place on ESPN's TV coverage of the sport, but he is slowly coming around to television and how it works. His weekly debates with Marty Smith on NASCAR Now are entertaining, but in the mid-week shows and during the one hour Sprint Cup pre-race programs, more of Hinton would be a good idea.
It will take a little while for the Danica news to sink in, but there is going to be a very big change taking place in the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series. Track promoters and TV networks are already looking to 2010 as the time they can promote that Danica will be racing at their track and on their network.
TDP will be following this story completely as it will have such a huge impact on the TV and media coverage of the sport. Just consider Patrick entered in both the Daytona CWTS and Nationwide Series races driving for DeLana Harvick and KHI.
We always ask for your comments on these issues, but perhaps you could try to think about how the media will be impacted. Danica on Sirius Speedway, Danica on NASCAR Now, Danica and Ray Dunlap doing pit road interviews on SPEED's truck coverage.
Tony Stewart's transition from dealing with the IRL media and then coming to NASCAR was aided by the fact he was a veteran sprint car driver. Patrick is cool to the media and is about to get quite a wake-up call when everyone from Wendy Venturini to Marty Smith is ringing her phone and wanting some TV time.
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