By Toby Christie (Originally appeared on RubbingsRacing.com)
What do Sam Hornish Jr. and Dario Franchitti have in common?
Well for starters each have collected multiple Indy Car championships in their respective careers. In addition between them they have won 45 races in the open wheel ranks, including three Indianapolis 500 trophies.
However as they have found, their past in open wheel didn’t come anywhere close to guaranteeing success in stock cars. In fact each has had sub-par showings in NASCAR, Franchitti’s struggles actually forced him to return to Indy Cars following the 2008 season.
So this brings me to my next question… If two of the best Indy Car drivers of all time can’t be elite and make it in NASCAR, why does Danica Patrick who has had just one victory in her Indy career, think she can do any better?
Not only does Patrick’s one career Indy Car win, fall incredibly short in comparison of her colleague’s achievements, but she has also elected to continue driving Indy cars while trying to learn stock cars thus making concentrating on the task at hand very difficult.
Her results haven’t really been mixed, because to be mixed you must have some good finishes. It’s been down right awful.
In her six career NASCAR Nationwide Series starts Patrick has only been able to muster a best finish of 24th, which came at Chicago.
In addition to saying NASCAR has been a humbling experience (understatement in my opinion), Patrick went on to discuss what the goals were for her coming into this season.
“I think at the beginning of the year, Dale Jr. and Kelley and Tony (Eury) Jr., they said top-15s,” Patrick said. “And I guess that’s probably true. I thought I was hopefully going to be able to do better than that.”
Friday she cited crashes and other tangibles out of her control for some of her failures, but whatever the reason the finishes just haven’t came for the Illinois native, who is more known for her commercials than her talents behind the wheel.
Yet just as we begin to mark Danica Patrick as a lost cause, she gives us another sign of optimism, and hope that maybe someday she will be able to live up to the hype.
Friday was the season-finale for the NASCAR K&N East Pro Series. It was decided last week that Patrick would compete in this event to get her prepared for Saturday’s Nationwide race in Dover.
Patrick started the race in 13th, and would bide her time all day long. She didn’t force anything, and with 10 laps to go she found herself in 11th position. By the end of the race, where Ryan Truex was crowned the K&N East Series champion for the second straight year, Patrick would sneak up to finish a very impressive sixth.
In addition to her great run, she posted the 12th fastest time in Nationwide Series practice during the day.
We will see if she has learned anything that will apply to Saturday’s Nationwide Series event, but one would have to believe this day goes a long way to help build up her confidence just a bit.
I’m not saying she will win this week, and I’m not hinting at a top-five, heck I’m not even suggesting a top-ten… However this week she does have her best shot thus far to actually finish in her goal of 15th.