WTF? Danica Patrick's Daytona 500 Deal Explained

Understandably, you've got a lot of questions about how exactly Danica Patrick went from Stewart-Haas Racing to driving for Tommy Baldwin Racing on Tuesday.

Here's an attempt to provide some answers:

Um...what just happened?

Tony Stewart needed a way to get Danica into the Daytona 500. There's no way GoDaddy wanted to show up for Speedweeks not knowing if its driver would actually make the race (and given it's her first Sprint Cup Series experience, there's a decent chance she would have missed the 500).

So Stewart had to get owner points for Danica from another team. Sure, he could have given up his points from last season and then used a past champion's provision to make the race himself. But if he did that, his points would have been gone after five races (since Danica isn't running all the events).

I still don't get it. Where does Tommy Baldwin Racing come in?

Stewart and Tommy Baldwin Racing used NASCAR's shady points system to work out a clever deal: Danica and TBR driver David Reutimann will "split" the No. 10 car, which will technically be run under the TBR banner.

That way, Reutimann can keep the seat warm for Danica – and make sure the car stays in the top 35 for the other nine races after Daytona. So when Danica shows up at difficult tracks such as Darlington and Bristol, she'll already be in the show.

So, wait. Danica is driving for Tommy Baldwin now?

Technically, yes – but not really. Sure, she'll be racing for Tommy Baldwin in the eyes of NASCAR. But she'll likely have Greg Zipadelli as her crew chief – not Baldwin, who will probably crew chief for Reutimann – and she'll almost certainly be driving Stewart-Haas cars with Hendrick engines.

Reutimann will still be driving second-tier TBR cars. If you think Danica's No. 10 car will be the same as Reutimann's No. 10 or "teammate" Dave Blaney's No. 35 – you're kidding yourself. This isn't going to be like true teammates sharing a car, like Mark Martin and Michael Waltrip in the No. 55.

Tommy Baldwin won't be paying Danica a dime of salary. In fact, SHR is likely paying Baldwin a substantial sum to make this deal happen.

You're sexist! How is this different than any other points deal with man?

First of all, the Danica situation is merely an illustration of how broken NASCAR's system is. This isn't meant to make her look bad, because all of us would do the same thing if we were in the shoes of SHR, TBR or Danica (although her shoes look painful to wear).

This deal is different than some in the past, though. Instead of SHR purchasing the points via merger (and thus having Baldwin take a minority interest in the team), SHR is technically outsourcing a driver. But again...not really.

This doesn't seem right. How come NASCAR doesn't step in?

NASCAR apparently is cool with all this. After all, officials have to be psyched to have Danica in the Daytona 500 field – they want the publicity and the TV ratings.

Points deals are an annual controversy NASCAR endures but then (correctly) assumes will go away. This one may be high-profile and complicated, but will likely be no different in the end.

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