Whether you love Danica Patrick or can't stand her, the fact that Patrick will be staying in NASCAR for at least the next couple of years is a very, very good thing indeed.
Tuesday morning at Stewart-Haas Racing headquarters in Kannapolis, North Carolina, Patrick and the team announced that Nature's Bakery will sponsor Patrick and the No. 10 SHR Chevrolet through a new multi-year agreement.
Why is a new deal a good deal for NASCAR?
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Well, it's good for a lot of reasons.
Patrick has a strong following outside of the hardcore NASCAR fan base -- people who read about Patrick, people who watch Patrick, people who follow what she does closely. With the possible exception of Dale Earnhardt Jr., Patrick generates more interest than any other single driver in the sport. Her staying put keeps her fans engaged.
And that level of interest in Patrick is why she's able to sign a new contract that presumably will pay her very well and, more importantly, find a new sponsor that will fund the team in 2016 and beyond.
At the end of the day, the best part of this news is it means that the No. 10 will stay on the track. And that, in turn, means the fabricators and the engineers and the tire changers and the mechanics and the public relations representatives will continue to have jobs building, operating and crewing Patrick's cars.
Top-line NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers make a lot of money and the money they make affords them lavish and glamorous lifestyles. Not so for the men and women who work on race teams. Most of them share two traits in common: They all love racing and they all work their asses off.
The folks who work at race shops aren't getting rich; like most of us, they are simply trying to pay the bills, feed and house their families, and make a living in an industry where there are a lot more qualified workers than jobs. That's the reality. You don't work in this sport without earning a spot on the team.
There is nothing sexy about being a fabricator or a jackman or even answering the phones at the shop. It's all hard work -- with 38 races in 41 weeks, the Sprint Cup schedule is brutal and the competition is too, both on and off the track. Teams routinely poach sponsors from each other and it's easy to find yourself out of work when that happens.
I vividly remember the end of the 2008 season when a bunch of teams shut down or "merged" -- meaning they sold out for pennies on the dollar -- and more than 1,100 people in the industry lost their jobs. A lot of them left the sport permanently and not by choice.
That's why whenever new sponsors come into the sport and a team remains whole as a result, it's a positive.
So at the end of the day, it's good news that the Danica deal got done. A team gets to remain intact and a bunch of hard working folks get to keep their jobs. In my book, that's a victory every day of the week.