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Danica To Provide NASCAR Boost In Joining Sport Full Time

It's been no secret the last few years that growth in the sport of NASCAR has slowed way down. But today, the sport got a dose of good news - Danica Patrick will race in NASCAR full time next year. WFAE's Scott Graf has more now on what that means for the sport and for advertisers. Today's news conference in Phoenix made official recent rumors that Patrick would join NASCAR's second tier Nationwide series full time next year. She's raced there on and off the last two seasons with limited success. Patrick will also compete in a handful of events in the top-level Sprint Cup series. The addition of Patrick on a full time basis is good news for the sport that needs as many advertisers as it can get these days. UNC Charlotte marketing professor Jim Oakley says the simple fact that Patrick is a woman is a big boost. "She opens the door for them to go talking to a much wider array of potential advertisers," Oakley says. "That's exactly what you want if you've got something to communicate. The more you can open that to a wider audience, the better position you're in as a brand." Oakley says companies that sell hair care, makeup and other women's products will likely be among the first to sign up with Patrick. For track promoters who've had a harder time selling tickets the last few years, Patrick's full time jump to NASCAR is also welcome news. Longtime Charlotte Motor Speedway manager Humpy Wheeler says the better Patrick gets, the more tickets she'll sell. "If she got down to Talladega or Daytona and runs up front and battles the boys evenly," he says, "when she comes to these other tracks, she can sell some tickets. No question about that." Patrick will race in the Nationwide Series for Dale Earnhardt Junior's Mooresville-based team. Her Sprint Cup cars will be fielded from Tony Stewart's shop in Concord.