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October 21, 2014

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GoDaddy girls, Danica Patrick and Mark Martin

I hate changes in an administration. Whenever a new crew comes to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, it takes me several months to learn how to draw the new president and his entourage. My Barack Obama caricature still isn’t where I’d like it to be.

I feel the same way about NASCAR. The start of a new season can drive me nuts as I try to remember which drivers have moved to new teams or as I try to get a handle on the new paint schemes for some of the cars.

As I watched the Budweiser Shootout and the practice sessions this past week, I kept looking for the yellow No. 5 machine. I know GoDaddy.com is Mark Martin’s new sponsor, but my brain is still conditioned to look for the old yellow and blue Chevy.

While we’re on the subject of GoDaddy.com, that’s a sponsor that knows how to get people’s attention. By showing attractive young women beginning what looks like a striptease, and then throwing Danica Patrick into the mix, you’ve got an advertising campaign that leaves a lasting impression. Heck, if these ads keep airing, I may never again complain about the proliferation of commercials during the races.

(Nevertheless, one of the GoDaddy.com Super Bowl commercials didn’t fare too well in USA Today’s annual ratings by a focus group. The ad ranked 60th in popularity, one level above the five least favorite commercials.)

But the publicity surrounding Danica’s entry into the world of stock-car racing is having an impact beyond my living room. The SPEED channel’s coverage of the ARCA Racing Series season opener at Daytona scored a Nielsen Household Rating that was 59 percent higher than last year’s event.

So, initially, Danica brought more eyes to an event she participated in. I’m interested to see the ratings after her Nationwide Series debut at Daytona. I just hope, as a result of all the mileage GoDaddy.com could get from Danica, that we won’t see Mark Martin dressed up as one of the GoDaddy girls.

When asked if he liked the attention Danica is bringing to the sport, Ryan Newman said: “Oh yeah. Any attention, good or bad, seems to be good for our sport. You look at the first race ever on TV, there was a fight. Now we get our hands slapped for fighting. I think any kind of attention is good.”

ESPN asked Dale Jarrett what Danica faces by going from ARCA to NASCAR. “She just graduated from high school—now she’s going to college,” he said.

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