Danica Patrick is coming to NASCAR full-time next year in the Nationwide Series, and is likely to run seven Sprint Cup Series races for Stewart-Haas Racing, reports the Associated Press.
But if Patrick really wants use those seven Cup races to prepare for her future, the best place to make her major-league debut would be on NASCAR's biggest stage: The Daytona 500.
At least that's the opinion of Yahoo! Sports columnist Dan Wetzel, who writes that Danica should start with the 500 because "If you're going to roll the dice on the Sprint Cup, why sit out the main event?"
It's an excellent point, for several reasons: Her sponsors would certainly love for her to be in the Daytona 500; it would give her the experience of racing in NASCAR's Super Bowl before going to Cup full time in 2013; she would have a shot to do fairly well.
Wetzel notes that while Danica hasn't been particularly competitive on some tracks, she's done well in restrictor-plate races. She had a chance to win the July Daytona race until the last lap.
So if she did well in the Daytona 500? Watch out.
"NASCAR can only dream of what the ratings would be with Patrick in contention late in what is already its most-watched, most-hyped, most-important race," Wetzel writes.
You can read Wetzel's full column here.