By Matt Crossman
Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service
The announcement that Danica Patrick will go full-time NASCAR racing next year has been over for hours and I still can't decide: Is this the greatest day in NASCAR history or simply one of the greatest?
This has as much to do with Danicamania as it does the unfathomable breadth and depth of the NASCAR universe. All of the things that make NASCAR awesome and ridiculous were on full display as Patrick made her announcement Thursday.
Of course, the things that make NASCAR awesome are also what make it ridiculous. NASCAR is exactly like a high school that has been taken over by a circus and driven to an all-male carnival where everyone wears loud and ugly full-body firesuits.
Into this environment walks Patrick, wearing heels that would make Muggsy Bogues look like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. She brings with her GoDaddy CEO Bob Parsons, who is a circus ringleader with a business and marketing IQ of approximately a billion.
Patrick is either exactly what NASCAR needs or everything that is wrong with racing. Poor thing has the nerve to be ambitious, pretty and talented, and for that some fans will never like her. If she were less of the first two and more of the third, the rest of the fans would complain about that, instead.
The thing I love most about NASCAR is I could go to a race every day for the rest of my life and write a new and different story every day. The crazy thing is, the best stories don't happen at the track, or at least they don't happen on the track. Like today.
Watching cars going around in circles is great and all, but everything else is way better. There was not one bit of unreported news out of Patrick's announcement, yet it was unendingly fascinating. It was without question the most previewed, covered and dissected announcement in the history of the Nationwide Series, if not all of NASCAR.
Patrick answered a ton of questions. Here is a sampling of topics she was not asked to address: Do you think you'll drive well? What kind of results would you like to have? When will you win a race? Girl power: pro or con? I did not ask any of those questions, either. I was too busy tweeting.
In another sign of the awesomeness of the day, I had separate phone interviews with Parsons and Patrick after the announcement. GoDaddy gets it like nobody else in the sport. I imagine Parsons shows up for work wearing a top hat and fending off a lion with a chair before he lights an incense candle with a $50 bill. He laughed when I suggested he buy Red Bull Racing, a team that's on the verge of closing. He's crazy in a Mark Cuban way, and NASCAR needs an owner (or 12) like him. As cool as writing about NASCAR is now, with him around, it'd be 100 times cooler.
As she began her foray into NASCAR, one of the things Patrick was most curious about was whether she would enjoy driving a stock car. She admitted she had tried to play coy and today her true feelings poured out: She's having a blast.
Danica Patrick being subtle! Now I've heard everything!
NASCAR chairman Brian France issued a statement welcoming Patrick to NASCAR. Any rational person would see it as a sincere gesture that would make Patrick feel like part of the family. It was of course met with derision before the ink was even dry on the email (Ink? Email? Shaddup, I'm ranting.) In approximately 15 seconds, the tweets started from people wondering how come BZF didn't issue statements to welcome to NASCAR men you've never heard of. The point being that Andy Lally (Who? Exactly!) going NASCAR racing is the same thing as Danica Patrick going NASCAR racing.
The climax of the day was the unveiling of the car Patrick will drive in 2012, which is indiscernible from the car she has driven the last two years, yet she and Parsons pulled back a tarp as confetti fell from the ceiling. The scene was reminiscent of the Heat's Big 3 introduction last year. Oh how I wish LeBron James had been sitting in the car. Better yet, if he had popped out of the trunk. I know the trunk isn't very big, but certainly in an important moment like that, James would've shrunk to fit in there.