Dale Jarrett, the ESPN commentator, three-time Daytona 500 winner and 1999 Winston Cup champ, addressed some questions about Danica Patrick down at Daytona last week. ESPN sent us a transcript of the news conference. Jarrett was asked, What does Danica Patrick face in going from ARCA to NASCAR.
His reply: "She just graduated from high school – now she’s going to college. She’s just stepping to a whole other level. She’s with guys now out here racing that have a ton of experience, that are great talents, because she’s going to be competing against a lot of guys that are in the Cup Series, and so that’ll be her best opportunity to really learn, and that’s why it’s so important for her to get her car comfortable, for her team to get it comfortable for her, where she can be in the mix for the majority of the day if not all.
"Obviously finishing 300 miles would be huge for her. It’s going to be eye-opening. She’s going to find out when she gets out there today, that the car, because of the aero package that’s on the Nationwide cars, the closing rate is going to be greater, the draft has a bigger effect, it’s going to be almost like, even though she did a great job Saturday night, she has to go back to school again here and absorb a lot in a short amount of time.
"I was one, I can honestly say, just by watching what she did in IndyCar, even though I knew she had a lot of talent in driving a car, wasn’t sure she could come here and mix it up. I was wrong. She did a great job but now it’s on to some more intense test as she gets through this weekend.”