by Ryan Isley
Writer’s Note: This is Part 6 in a 13-Part series. Each Friday from November 23rd to February 15th, Ryan will make a prediction for the 2013 NASCAR season spanning over all three main touring series – Sprint Cup Series, Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series. On February 8th and 15th, Ryan will predict the 12 drivers who will make the NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase and the Sprint Cup champion. You can check out all of the predictions here.
Before I even start, let me say this: of all the predictions so far for the 2013 NASCAR season, this is the one in which I have the least confidence. And that is strange, because it is the one that makes the most sense.
Danica Patrick has said that she will not skip the Coca-Cola 600 to race in the 97th running of the Indianapolis 500 in May because she is concentrating on her first full season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. While that is understandable – and even commendable – she should really think about changing her mind. After all, that is a woman’s prerogative.
The reason it would make sense for Danica to race in the Indianapolis 500 this year is that she would only have to miss one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points race – the Coca-Cola 600 – and would be able to participate in all Indianapolis 500 practices and qualifying. And let’s be honest – nobody expects her to be in the hunt for a championship this season, so missing one race would not be a huge deal. After she has raced in the Sprint Cup Series for a couple years, it would make less sense for her to skip a race if she might be in championship contention.
The race she would have to skip would also be the longest and most grueling race on the schedule, both mentally and physically. If there is one race a driver wouldn’t mind skipping, it just might be this one.
After running in the NASCAR Sprint Cup night race at Darlington on Saturday, May 11, Danica could head to Indianapolis, where practice for the Indianapolis 500 would run from Monday, May 12 to Thursday, May 16. Fast Friday would follow on May 17 and then Pole Day is on Saturday, May 18 with bump day on Sunday, May 19.
While the practices and qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 take place, NASCAR will be in Charlotte for the All-Star Race, one in which Danica probably won’t be involved in unless she wins the fan vote. Even if she were selected by the fans, it is a non-points race and not as important as the Indianapolis 500.
Everybody knows how important the Indianapolis 500 is to Danica – and any driver that has ever sat behind the wheel of a racecar for that matter. She was the first woman to lead the Indianapolis 500 and has six top-10 finishes in seven starts in the race.
To make this decision even easier, her car owner in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series – Tony Stewart – knows the allure of the Indianapolis 500. Stewart has run in the race five times and has even pulled double duty, racing both the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 on the same day twice.
Add it all up, and it just makes sense that Danica would change her mind and race in the Indianapolis 500 this year. Or at least she should.
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