While Danica Patrick last raced at the 2018 Daytona 500, she has stayed connected to NASCAR through her broadcast work, serving as a guest analyst for Fox multiple times in the last couple of years. In addition, she has worked in a similar position, covering F1 for ESPN via Sky Sports.
The 41-year-old was in Austin, Texas, for the Oct. 22 US Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas, working in that role and saw Max Verstappen dominate once again and record his 15th victory of the season. After the race, the former driver visited with AwfulAnnouncing.com and was asked about the US motorsports landscape, and in particular, the health of NASCAR.
Unsurprisingly, she had an opinion.
“I sat down actually with one really important person within NASCAR… one of the things I said was, ‘the races are way, way too long,'” Patrick said. “People’s consuming habits change… because people can’t keep their attention span long enough.
“So when you’re asking them to sit in front of a television for five or six hours, with pre-race and the race and everything, that’s a lot of time to expect someone to be attentive.”
Kevin Harvick Agrees with Danica Patrick
Danica Patrick always had critics throughout her career. Many of those same fans will likely dismiss her idea. But she’s not the first to suggest reducing race lengths. Her former Stewart-Haas Racing teammate, Kevin Harvick, said the same thing last year on journalist Davey Segal’s Victory Lane podcast.
“The thing that people have to realize, there’s going to be a lot more cautions,” Harvick said. “It’s not the racing that we’ve had for the past several years with a limited amount of cautions. There’s going to be a ton of cautions as we’ve seen through all these races. I don’t think, from a driver’s standpoint, any of us want to race 500-mile races anyway.
“500 miles at Atlanta with a restrictor plate. That was a long day. It felt like we were in there forever. I think the Daytona 500, obviously, needs to be 500 miles, but the Coke 600 could be debated. But the rest of these races, they shouldn’t even allow them to have 500-mile races. They, to me, seem like a thing of the past.”
Patrick Also Offers Thoughts on NASCAR Lacking Stars
Patrick, who has been involved in various business ventures since retiring, including her own wine, a candle company, and podcast, also shared her thoughts on the current hot topic of conversation in NASCAR circles — the sport’s current lack of star power.
“Formula One is on the rise, but NASCAR is struggling a little bit more,” she noted. “And there was a time when Formula One wasn’t really a blip on the radar here in the States, and NASCAR drivers were everything. A lot of that correlates with, yes, the product, but also the marketability of the drivers within it and the personalities.
“NASCAR has suffered a lot of losses when it comes to their personalities with a lot of the big famous names being gone. There was Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Tony Stewart and myself and Carl Edwards.”
Patrick is right about the loss of big NASCAR names in recent years. But her comment on NASCAR struggling compared to F1, at least as far as television ratings are concerned, isn’t accurate. Viewership for the race at COTA dropped for a third consecutive year to its lowest numbers since 2019, according to Sports Media Watch. It’s the Max Verstappen effect, and it doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon.