Danica Patrick a Brand Now, Leaves Behind Complicated Racing Legacy

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Danica Patrick is certainly a polarizing figure, but today isn’t really the time and place for her cliche “retirement bounce.”

There’s no need to look at what she accomplished or didn’t accomplish in auto racing through rose colored glasses right now. She is what she is- someone who accomplished a lot of milestones in the sport that no woman previously had, but a mediocre racer who never achieved a resume even remotely close to her hype.

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On one hand, she is the only woman to have ever won an IRL race. On the other hand, it was a rain shortened event and also the only victory of her entire career. Still, it was definitely a shame to see her go out in the manner that she did today at the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500. Patrick spun out during the 68th lap and hit the wall, ending her race day, and thus her auto racing career, at age 35.

For Danica, her racing career ends with three straight crashes, Homestead, Daytona and Indianapolis. In regards to Indy, her end was anything but fitting. 

During her IRL career, Danica Patrick accomplished six  top 10 finishes in eight starts at the Brickyard. She also accomplished the highest ever Indy 500 finish by a woman (3rd), and as it stands now, is the only woman to have ever led laps at the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

She’s also the only woman to have ever won the pole position at the Daytona 500.

Of course, her accomplishments never came remotely close to matching her visibility, publicity and fame. She’s such a celebrity brand that the only way she could have pulled level is by having a Jimmie Johnson or Mario Andretti level of career. Her experience in NASCAR was a tremendous disappointment, so much so that she got dropped from her racing team.

The last impression we have of her racing career is basically how poor she performed in stock car competition, which was a bit surprising, given how she’s often a lot better on the ovals.

Although her ending in the circle city today, in front of 350,000 people, was undeserving, do not cry for her at all, because now the Anna Kournikova of Racing transitions to being an individual brand full time. Danica Patrick is already shilling a book about pop psychology, dieting and training.

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You know we’re going to see Danica Patrick on the talk show circuit hocking it. She’s hosting the ESPYs in a couple months, and that’s an event which is all about hype and marketing, not actual accomplishment. Then she’ll take off on Pinterest, be a big time lifestyle blogger, get her own show on radio or television, and voila her next career is here.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, currently contributes regularly to WGN CLTV and the Tribune company’s blogging community Chicago Now.

Follow him on TwitterInstagramSound Cloud, LinkedIn and YouTube.

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