published Saturday, November 7th, 2009

Young: NASCAR drivers ready to welcome Patrick

Well, the Danica Patrick experiment is about to come to fruition with word she is close to completing a Nationwide Series deal with JR Motorsports.

No doubt, track officials already are talking to owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. to make sure she drives at their venues. Let’s face it, that series needs a boost, and what better boost than one of the most popular drivers?

Nationwide regular Carl Edwards, for one, would welcome her presence.

“If Danica Patrick could come over here to NASCAR and run well, it would be great for the sport and it would be great for the sponsors that she brings over here,” Edwards said. “The fans would love it, so I think the better she does over here — barring running in front of me — the better it is for the sport, and I think that’s good.”

Patrick’s NASCAR future was a hot topic this week, and nearly to a man Sprint Cup drivers believe her arrival would be a good thing. However, they also feel, as has been proven numerous times, that transitioning from open wheel to stock car will take some time.

“It seem like it’s been a little bit difficult for those (open-wheel) drivers who grow up on the go-karts, high-down-force, Indy Car-type stuff,” Kasey Kahne said. “But Juan’s (Pablo Montoya) figured it out really well, and I think other guys can with the right amount of time and right people helping them if they want to spend the time helping them. It’s going to be a lot different for her. She’s showed that she’s really good in Indy Cars, and I think she could probably adapt if she had the right time.”

But what happens if she doesn’t have any success? She wouldn’t be the first open-wheel driver to try and fail.

“There are a lot of people who have come over here and not been able to do well, and I think Juan Montoya is the best example, to me, of a guy who has huge talent, who came over and had a mass of success in other things, and was able to do it,” Edwards said. “He’s as good as any of us over here now, so if she doesn’t do it, I don’t think it would be a huge surprise, but, like I said, for all those reasons I hope she does well.”

about Lindsey Young...

Lindsey Young is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press 24 years ago. He covers the Northwest Georgia prep beat and NASCAR. Lindsey’s hometown is Ringgold, Ga., and he graduated from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School. He received an associate’s degree from Dalton Junior College (now Dalton State) and a bachelor’s degree in communications from UTC. He has won several writing awards, including two Tennessee Sports ...

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