Has Danica Patrick Made It Easier, Or Harder, For Other Female Drivers?

By Théoden Janes
The Charlotte Observer

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Danica Patrick has become one of the richest, most influential and most popular drivers in the sport — thanks at least in part to posing for bikini photos early on, and to her promotion of an active and healthy lifestyle more recently. So what type of affect has this had on other women in racing? Four top female drivers in the field give their perspectives.

The Charlotte Observer

Danica Patrick has definitely earned this luxury, this million-dollar motor coach, this prime parking space on the infield at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

And as she describes what it takes to succeed as a woman at NASCAR’s highest level, she is clearly describing herself.

“You gotta be the package,” she says, curling into her seat while cradling her Belgian Malinois pup, Ella. “You have to be able to drive the car, you have to be able to look the part, to represent a company well, deliver a message, do an interview, and resonate with fans.”

In the four years since she left a thriving IndyCar career to become the first woman to break the Sprint Cup barrier since 1995, the 34-year-old still lacks a win, and can claim just six top-10 finishes in 130 starts going into Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

At the same time, she’s become one of the richest, most influential and most popular drivers in the sport — thanks at least in part to posing for bikini photos early on, and to her promotion of an active and healthy lifestyle more recently.

Throughout her Sprint Cup career, Patrick hasn’t had to share the spotlight with another woman. But young drivers like Madeline Crane, Ali Kern, Julia Landauer and Shannon McIntosh hope she’ll need to do just that, someday soon — with one (or more) of them.

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