Q: Now that Danica Patrick is done full-time racing, who will replace her as NASCAR’s next female star? – Christine P., Philadelphia
A: Patrick provided NASCAR with a unique opportunity to reach out to a new fan base. The benefit of having her around the sport for only seven years is unlike any other we’ve seen.
Thanks to Patrick’s efforts on and off the racetrack, there are women racers who now know they can make it in the sport. No longer will they have to think they can’t get the job done because they certainly can.
Patrick’s results obviously weren’t the best. In 190 Cup starts, she has seven top 10s and led 64 laps. She finished 24th in the standings twice (2015 and 2016), which isn’t spectacular for someone competing with Stewart-Haas Racing.
But what Patrick did prove is that given her disadvantage of racing in open-wheel divisions for so long, she was able to overcome the adversity at times. She could get the job done, and in doing so, she became the most successful female driver in NASCAR’s nearly 70 years of existence.
Moving forward, there are several women drivers who have the potential to duplicate, if not better, Patrick’s results. The possibility of making it in the sport was slim to none before her arrival. But now, the future is brighter than ever and it is the opportune time to try to make it.
Here are some female drivers who can move through the rankings to eventually become Cup drivers:
Zellers has plenty of potential to succeed in NASCAR given a diverse resume. While her stock car experience is limited, running one K&N Pro Series East race this year, she has plenty of other experience. It’s a resume that features SCCA racing and she is an FIA silver rated driver. If she can get sponsorship to run more K&N races, we could certainly see her work way up in the racing realm.
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