Danica Patrick SI Swimsuit

February 27, 2012 by staff 

Danica Patrick SI Swimsuit, On the Tuesday before heading east to prepare for the most-hyped race of her life, Danica Patrick popped the cork on a mini-celebration with husband Paul Hospenthal.

Patrick entered the couple’s enormous wine cellar in their Scottsdale, Ariz., home and picked a 2004 bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon from their favorite part of Napa Valley.

“We’d never had it because they were like, ‘Don’t drink it for 10 years,’ but I figured we’d waited long enough,” Patrick says. “Paul said, ‘It’s Valentine’s Day. We’re going into a big year, and it’s going to be great. We’re headed to the Daytona 500. Honey, go pull something good.’ ”

It might have seemed presumptuous to be toasting before she had turned an official lap in NASCAR’s premier series, given that Patrick has said her success would be determined by winning. But in some ways, much of the hard work already had been done well in advance of Sunday’s season-opening Daytona 500.

The third woman to start NASCAR’s biggest race will be the first to make her Sprint Cup debut with so much experience weathering the stress of intense scrutiny. The first woman to lead the Indianapolis 500, as a rookie in 2005, she has handled years of questions about her gender-defying rise through the motor sports world, her transcendent impact despite only one Indy-Car race victory and, of course, her lightning-rod sex appeal.

With a tight but trusted cadre of a half-dozen advisers and assistants helping curate her highly coveted brand, Patrick ranks among the most recognized and respected names in professional sports. She arrives at racing’s top level as a mainstream global attraction in auto racing, whose reliance on corporate sponsorship creates a sway to play environment where having an alluring personality can be as important as excelling on track.

“No driver has been so marketed, prepared and coiffed for a season of racing in the history of the sport,” says H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler, a racing consultant who has spent nearly a half-century in the industry and was the longtime president of Charlotte Motor Speedway. “Just about the time you think she has left for racing’s shadows she reappears like the Sphinx. Even her pairings with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Tony Stewart, are storybook. Everything about her seems magnificently scripted.”

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