She wears an attractive smile while on the speedway, but when she enters the vehicle and starts her engine, Danica Patrick isn’t the feminine driver or the stylish woman who once appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

But after 17 years of racing, she’s more than a model posing for magazines. While she gained fame for her gender and looks more so than her driving but Patrick, who became the first female driver in IndyCar history to win a race, has proven her value as a driver.

In every race, she’s fearless and convinced that she could endure a rigid test against the greatest drivers in the sport. In retrospect, Patrick is being anointed as an inspirational story, a tale that isn’t fully written until she makes her stock car debut on Saturday afternoon in a 200-mile ARCA race at Daytona. Considering that it’s the race viewers are attracted to and draws the highest views annually, Patrick has a chance to validate her image and prove she's unyielding enough to drive on the prestigious tracks.

For starters, she is, without question, a wonderful magnet and marketing gimmick in a fragile and ailing sport, nixed of all the boredom and weariness the sport presents. Most in America aren’t impressed watching cars travel at an accelerating speed in circular motion. For the supporters, most strongly believed Dale Earnhardt Jr. was the resurgence of NASCAR, a remedy for the rebirth of an ailing sport, but he hasn’t embellished a woeful disappointment.

Even Jimmie Johnson’s incredible dynasty with four consecutive championships doesn't mean that much within the sports world.

But maybe Patrick, viewed as a marketing stunt, but not a driver, can help NASCAR grasp the national consciousness.

While racing, she is relentless and capable of capping the biggest upset, but respectively, the masses are obsessed with her sex appeal and not her manly strength to drive a stock car at will.

So the latest hype isn’t overhyped, but instead must-see TV. That’s right, Patrick is this weekend’s main attraction evoking heavy spotlight, though she finished 12th on Friday.

She’s becoming comfortable behind the wheel of a stock car, after spending her entire career racing in open-wheel vehicles. Guess it’s suitable to say, she advances to bigger things, blossoming faster than a stock car. Racing in a stock-vehicle is a bit awkward, especially when Patrick is more familiar with the lighter, smaller Indy vehicle.

As it is, no one is really sure how well she’ll drive in her first race, the most anticipated ARCA race in the 57-year history of the series.

Out to surprise the world, Patrick enters Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide race, hoping to outshine Johnson and Earnhardt, the premier drivers of the sport. She refuses to miss a golden opportunity, especially on the sport's biggest stage.

Patrick, 27, is resilient and ignores skeptics believing it’s a publicity stunt. However, she polished and turned a difficult task into a probable assignment.

No woman in auto racing has zoomed down the speedway quicker than Danica.

Last weekend was, no doubt, the most hyped racing event in recent memory, the type of advertising the sport needs if concern about ratings and attendance at the events.

She gazes at the golden ticket, a life-long dream she has waited for quite some time. Poised to compete with the first-class drivers, Patrick has benefited since she joined JR Motorsports and Hendrick Motorsports.

Last weekend, she was pampered with high-grade equipment and had veteran leadership in Tony Eury Jr.

In a short time, she has quickly captivated the populace.

Keen for an abundance of elation, in the midst of America’s beloved race, she’s listed in the same category as other drivers and ripe in promoting pure talent.

If you aren’t perceptive of Patrick, the girl is a fiery and fierce competitor.

For instance, you may recall the time she was involved in a heated confrontation with female Indy driver Milka Duno, when Patrick confronted her over slow driving during a practice session.

She also had verbal, face-to-face disputes with Dan Wheldon and Ryan Briscoe following incidents.

It’s impressive how fast she obtained stardom, which came by participating in the Indianapolis 500 as a rookie driver, but encountered a few blemishes when she remained winless for almost three years.

She grasped our attention, while driving delighted the Indy Racing League and Andretti Green Racing, but now reaches a pinnacle by advancing to new heights.

You go, girl.

And because of Patrick, NASCAR this weekend is must-see TV. Yes, I said auto racing is must-see TV, not only for her gorgeous smile or appealing features, but for her fierce competitiveness.

It’s enough to put fear on the faces of the veterans and blossoming drivers in the auto industry. It’s enough to startle the other racing teams she isn’t affiliated with.

Beyond all that, she’s ready to defy an ambitious scene where there are faster cars, veteran drivers and experienced drivers.

Above all, she’ll run all the laps and will finish all laps, even if she has a bad outing. The bottom line is that she’ll drive on the same track as Tony Stewart, Johnson and Mark Martin, a 51-year old with a lot of driving left in his gas tank. Still, some are rooting on Go.Daddy.com, the car sponsor she’s driving in.

“To be the one driving that Go Daddy car at Daytona means a lot to me,” Patrick said.

I imagine it does.

It’s huge for her and NASCAR.


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