|After her impressive debut Indianapolis 500 mile race in 2005, in which she finished fourth and led 19 laps, Danica Patrick was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated.|
I was excited for her in 2008 when she won her first (and to date only) IndyCar Series race at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan. I was also intrigued by her move to NASCAR in 2010, which became a full-time move in 2012 when she decided to leave IndyCar. I wanted to see her succeed, but aside from a pole at the 2013 Daytona 500, there have only been a few bright spots in her NASCAR career. In the Cup Series, she has only seven top-tens and has never even cracked the top-five in nearly 200 races.
|Patrick celebrates her only IndyCar Series win with second-place finisher Hélio Castroneves and third-place finisher Scott Dixon.|
(Photo: Jonathan Ferry/Getty Images)
|Patrick moonlighted in the Nationwide Series for Turner Scott Motorsports after moving to Cup but never ran a race outside of Daytona or Talladega.|
(Photo: Action Sports Photography/Motorsport.com)
|Patrick struggled early and often in her Sprint Cup Series career, though not every accident was entirely her fault.|
(Photo: John Harrelson/Getty Images)
|Patrick tearfully announced her retirement yesterday at Homestead-Miami Speedway.|
(Photo: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
|Patrick has not run the Indianapolis 500 since 2011 when she finished tenth.|
(Photo: Eric Gilbert/Motorsport.com)
Danica Patrick can win both the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500 in 2018.
Now before you accuse me of being an unrealistic Danica fanboy, let me explain my reasoning.
|Patrick led laps on superspeedways several times in her career.|
(Photo: Fox Sports)
|Patrick collided with Team Penske's Ryan Briscoe in the pit lane on lap 171 of the 2008 Indianapolis 500.|
(Photo: Michael Damsky/Reuters)
Still, Patrick will likely need to do some testing to readjust to a single-seater. If I were in her position, I would strongly consider running at least the Grand Prix of Indianapolis on the IMS road course to give her additional IndyCar seat time before qualifying for the 500. But given how quickly drivers such as Kurt Busch, Alexander Rossi, and Fernando Alonso have been able to adapt to IndyCars after never having been in one before, it would be foolish to think Patrick cannot do the same after her absence.
Let's also say she works out a deal with Ganassi. Ganassi has pulled off the double himself; in 2010, Jamie McMurray won the Daytona 500 while Dario Franchitti kissed the bricks at Indianapolis. His teams are both more than capable of winning, and while Patrick and Ganassi have never worked together, such a combination should be able to provide results should everything go their way.
Should Patrick be expected to win either of these races? Probably not.
But she absolutely can.