LIVE BLOG: Danica’s Debut

It’s time for the Danica dance … remember to keep refreshing your web browser to read new updates … Please, comment away. I’ll do my best to throw back answers.

The SPEED channel is plugging away on the Daytona 500 as we speak. If you haven’t heard, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. qualified on the outside pole, while Mark Martin took the pole for next Sunday’s big event. Both are teammates for Hendrick Motorsports.

Danica is slated to fire up her engine just shy of 3:30 p.m. in the ARCA Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200. I wonder how the race’s grand marshall will handle the female prescence in today’s race? Gentlemen and ladies, start your engine? BTW … who’s singing the anthem?

 SPEED’s Bob Dillner: "All eyes will be on Danica." (Danica is starting the 80-lap race at Daytona from the 12th position, after laying down a qualifying lap of 179.788 on Friday.)

Danica Fun Fact: Danica Sue Patrick was born March 25, 1982 in Beloit, Wis. She claims her hometown to be Roscoe, Ill.

The ARCA racing series is basically a developmental-type league for NASCAR, but there are still some old wheel-sawers out there who couldn’t cut the mustard with the big boys. Like Florida’s 46-year-old Tony Altiere, who’s best finish in the series is a pair of 25th finishes at Pocono in 1997 and Nashville in 2001. Altiere, however, didn’t make today’s field. Wonder why?

Why haven’t they interviewed Danica yet? Ken Squire is looking rather haggard this year. Wonder if he’s down on anyone’s death pool in 2010?

Danica Fun Fact: Danica’s best finish in the Indy 500 was third in 2009. She only has one victory in the IndyCar series, a win at Twin Ring Motegi in the Indy Japan 300 on April 20, 2008.

It’s getting close to green flag time.

Grand Marshall: "Drivers start your engines." I should have saw that coming.

Danica Patrick: "Um, you know, I think you know, I want to get through as much of the race as possible … I do need that seat time, won’t do me any good if I’m not getting it. You know, I’m really hoping to get this GoDaddy car to the front and have a good result."

I’m over 35 minutes into this historic day in stock car racing. Number of comments: 0. Maybe I should put up a different picture of Danica.

Still doing parade laps, just about to go green. Daytona International Speedway is a 2.5-mile tri-oval. NASCAR has a standard 43-car starting field in all of its racing series.

GREEN FLAG!! 3:41 p.m.

LAP 5 of 80: The front of the field is all single file. Danica has slid in to the 14th position and is riding around the bottom yellow line. Darrell Waltrip: "She’s concentrating on staying on that yellow line."

Lap 7 of 80: Big wreck on the backstretch coming out of turn No. 2. It looks like a junk yard in Daytona. No. 52 Bill Baird lost control coming out of two and was collected by No. 68 Steve Blackburn. Everyone else couldn’t get out of the way.

Wreck No. 1 update: Six cars are out of commission on the backstretch, but there are others with damage. This all happened behind Danica, who was being scored in 14th place at the time of the wreck.

Danica Fun Fact: Danica’s parents are T.J. and Bev Patrick. Danica won the 2008 Kids’ Choice Award for favorite female athlete.

Wreck No. 1 update: Still under yellow. Danica is being scored in 13th with 11 of 80 laps complete. Good news from the wreck. No. 17 Hal Martin was involved in the crash and he was pitting ahead of Danica. Danica will now have easy on/off access to her pit stall the rest of the way. The race leader: pole-sitter James Buescher of Plano, Texas.

Danica Fun Fact: Danica was a cheerleader at Hononegah Community High School near Beloit, Ill., in 1996.

Wreck No. 1 update: 10 drivers were involved. Butch Jarvis, Russ Dugger, Chase Mattioli, Hal Martin, Tim George, Jr., Bill Baird (started it all), Chad Hackenbracht, Leilani Munter (another female), Milka Duno (another female), Josh Richards.

Leilani Munter is from Rochester, Minn., and she started the race in 24th.

GREEN FLAG: 4:07 p.m. Danica is running 13th, the race leader is James Buescher. 17 of 80 laps in the books.

CAUTION: No. 22 Dakoda Armstrong gets helped around on the restart in turn No. 1 right in front of Danica! Danica gets through, Armstrong gets t-boned hard by Craig Goess. The field is under caution again.

SPEED REPORT: Armstrong had a tire going down and was tyring to get out of the way when he was bumped from behind by another driver. Both Armstrong and Goess, who slammed into Armstrong, are out of the race. Not sure yet where Danica is being scored. My guess is 12th.

Wreck No. 2: Waltrip is praising Danica’s driving prowess for getting out of the way of Armstrong. It was really nothing impressive. Armstrong had a right rear tire go down and spun towards the bottom of the track. Danica simply drove by on the high side. Wow. Danica is being scored in 12th.

Danica Fun Fact: Danica is married to Paul Edward Hospenthal, who had been her physical therapist. Apparently, Danica suffered a yoga incident. Danica converted to Roman Catholicism to marry ‘ol Paul in 2005.

I think this race might just go the distance under the caution flag. Yawn. This is not exactly Sprint Cup. Twenty-five of 80 laps are in the books and we’ve had a whopping 7 laps of green-flag racing. 4:22 p.m.

GREEN FLAG: 4:23 p.m. Buescher has led all 25 laps so far.

CAUTION: Good Christmas. This is a circus. We completed a single green-flag lap and Jesse Smith cut a tire down and went high in turn No. 4. Jill George in her No. 48 car went low to avoid and got on the apron. George’s car lost control, flew back onto the track and flipped over. Twenty-seven of 80 laps are in the books. Apparently, Jill is a chiropractor from Cedar Falls, Iowa. She’ll need one after that stunt. Wonder if she cracks her own back? Danica, believe it or not, is actually looking pretty good compared to the rest of the goofballs out there.

RED FLAG: The race is being red flagged after that last incident. The cars are stopped on the backstrecth. My guess this is being done because the people that paid money to get in the gate probably want to see some sort of racing, not just caution laps ticking away. 4:32 p.m.

If anyone’s watching the race on SPEED, Danica looked rather unamused sitting under the red flag on the backstretch. Her in-car camera was on as she rolled her eyes and gazed out the driver’s side window. Wendy, one of SPEED’s pit road reporters, said Danica asked Tony Eury, Jr. (Danica’s crew chief) how long these red flags typically last and if she should keep her two-way radio on. Rookies. Apparently, the red flag is to repair damage to the turn No. 4 fence.

The race’s average speed is an incredible 89.301 mph. Caution flags are killing it. Polesitter James Buescher qualified at 181.543 mph. Buescher has led all 27 laps to this point. Danica hasn’t yet cracked the top 10 but she’s close in 12th.

Danica Fun Fact: Danica dropped out of high school, but attained the coveted GED.

The red flag has been lifted. Now under caution, Danica pitted for fuel only and is being scored in sixth. There is something amiss with her tachometer, so she’s struggling with keeping pit road speed. She wasn’t penalized for speeding.

GREEN FLAG: Lap 32 of 80. 4:58 p.m. Danica is finally in the top 10.

LAP 34: Danica is up to fifth position, after coming off the yellow line and is now running near the top.

LAP 40: At the halfway point, Danica has settled back down to the yellow line on the bottom in sixth place. Bobby Gerhart is leading. Buescher has slid back to ninth.

CAUTION NO. 4: Some more bumping, banging, spinning and skidding. 43 of 80 laps are complete. Nine-time ARCA champ Frank Kimmel was involved while running 13th, but appears to be able to continue. Nick Igdalsky spun coming out of turn No. 2 in a seperate incident. Danica, even with her inexperience, is looking more and more like a veteran driver out there. She’s making wise choices and she’s not looking to shake things up. I feel like she just wants to learn what she can and get her car to the finish line in one piece. I’ve got to admit, I didn’t think this is what I’d be seeing. So far, I’ve been impressed. But this is the Big Top ARCA Circus. Nationwide will be a different story.

GREEN FLAG: 5:15 p.m. Danica is still in sixth. Gerhart is still your race leader. It’s going to start to get interesting with 33 laps to go.

LAP 50: Danica got shuffled out of the single-file line up front and looks to drop out of the top 10. She’s in 10th, but will probably wind up in 13th in the next few laps. Danica’s car is a little loose and it’s not drafting well. Alli Owens, another female driver, is currently running third. Owens is from Daytona Beach.

DANICA SAVES IT!!!: Danica just spun through the infield grass through the tri-oval after making contact with Nelson Piquet on lap 54. She didn’t hit anything, but she did bring out the fifth caution of the race and will start at the rear of the field. Danica has suffered minor damage, but she could still get back in the hunt. Piquet came down on Danica’s right front while battling for position on the front strecth. Totally not her fault. She’s impressing me. Heck of a save from keeping that car off the wall. Wow. And that time that wow was for real. Danica has a right-front fender rub.

GREEN FLAG: 5:27 p.m. 24 laps to go. Gerhart is still leading. Danica is being scored in 20th.

CAUTION NO. 6: Barry Fitzgerald just rolled hard coming out of turn No. 2 with 22 laps to go. His car got loose and Fitzgerald flipped five times. He looks to be okay.

Danica Fun Fact: In 2007, Danica was picked up for driving 57 in a 40 and was ordered to attend traffic school. In 2008, a speeding ticket for driving 54 in a 35 cost her $196.

Kudos to Lennie, for posting the first comment after 2 hours, 35 minutes into this live blog. I’ll buy you a Bud man, or gal.

GREEN FLAG: 17 laps left. 5:37 p.m. Gerhart is in the lead, Danica is back in 23rd and appears as if she won’t be a factor.

12 LAPS LEFT: I was wrong. Danica has moved up to 12th and she’s catching the lead pack.

9 LAPS LEFT: Danica is up to seventh! She’s cutting through the front pack, but Gerhart looks to be tough to beat up front. Great recovery by Danica. Impressive.

5 LAPS LEFT: Danica is up to fifth! She could win this thing!

FINISH: Gerhart wins it, Danica in her No. 7 Chevy finished 6th. It was apparent in the closing laps nobody really wanted to work with her, but she held her own. I was thinking this would be an epic fail for Danica, but she proved a lot today. I’m impressed, and I’ve been watching this racing stuff for awhile. ARCA is still not Nationwide or Cup racing, but she can handle a stock car. Now we’ll see how she’ll do against a lot stiffer competition, maybe next Saturday in the Nationwide series at Daytona.

Danica post-race comments: "I was pretty excited to go from last back to the top 5. The car felt pretty good, that was really fun. GoDaddy car dosen’t look very pretty, but it was fun."

This concludes the Danica Dance live blog. Peace out Jimmie town.

One thought on “LIVE BLOG: Danica’s Debut

  1. The Danica Fun Facts are crack’en me up!

    “Danica dropped out of high school, but attained the coveted GED” BUT she still got to be a HS Cheerleader. Ha!

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