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She really is a GIRLY girl
Danica at Milwaukee - BRONCO
Danica at Milwaukee - BRONCO
November 24th 2007 - ***Even my wife teases me, "Your girlfriend is on TV again", refering to Danica Patrick. Hey, she is cute, but I really am pulling for her. This coming season, with many drivers leaving the IRL, she'll have more experience in an open wheeler than most. I think she'll get her first win in 2008. - BRONCO

By Michael McCarthy, USA TODAY
NEW YORK — IndyCar driver Danica Patrick is taking aim at a new competitive sphere: the world of high fashion. Patrick said Wednesday she'd like to land more endorsement deals for women's fashion, fragrance and beauty products — and eventually design her own clothing line like tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams and singer Gwen Stefani.
The 25-year old driver added a possible jump to NASCAR is always "lurking." But Patrick says she'll stick with the IRL IndyCar Series and expects to grab her first victory next season.

STANDINGS: Final IRL IndyCar Series points

"So many people know me as Danica Patrick, race car driver. Well, there's another side to me. A side I really enjoy as far as fashion," she said while modeling a diamond-studded watch from the winter collection of Tissot, the Swiss watchmaker that hired her as its first female "brand ambassador" to the U.S. market in 2005.

Despite going winless in her first three IRL seasons, Patrick has become the face of IndyCar racing and a darling of Madison Avenue. Since bursting on to the scene by leading the Indianapolis 500 and winning Rookie of the Year honors in 2005, she's signed endorsement deals with Peak anti-freeze and Tissot and starred in a Super Bowl commercial for

FIND MORE STORIES IN: NASCAR | IRL | Danica Patrick | Gwen Stefani | Kournikova | Tissot
While Patrick said she puts on a "tough face" at the racetrack, she also has a "girlie" side that enjoys fashion and photo shoots. Olivier Cosandier, Tissot's U.S. brand manager, says he'd like to renew Patrick's endorsement pact when it expires in 2008. "She's a perfect fit for us," says Cosandier.

But Paul Swangard, managing director of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the University of Oregon, says Danica-fever has cooled among potential sponsors. If Patrick wants to become a crossover commercial star like Tiger Woods or Michael Jordan, she needs to win a race or create major buzz by jumping to NASCAR, he says.

"The risk of being Kournikova-ized is certainly there," he says referring to Anna Kournikova, the ex-tennis star whose endorsement portfolio dwindled after she failed to win a singles title. "It would certainly help her to find some success sooner rather than later."

In a wide-ranging interview with USA TODAY, Patrick tackled a possible switch to NASCAR, negative comparisons with Kournikova and other topics:

•Switching to NASCAR. The big bucks lure of NASCAR is always "lurking," says Patrick: "If I felt like I had a better chance to win races over there, I would do it." But she's sticking with IndyCar for now. "I could have made a truckload if I wanted to. But that's not where my heart is right now. I love to see the growth and expansion of IndyCar. People working hard. More people watching it."

•The difference between IndyCar and NASCAR. "I love driving the car. The sensation that you get out of an open-wheel car vs. a NASCAR is going to be extremely different. It's going to be a lot more fun to drive an open-wheel car as far as what you get through your hands and through your butt and feet and everything. It's just a higher level of technology and driving."

•Comparisons to Kournikova. Sure, Kournikova didn't win a singles title, but the "beautiful" star was "pretty good" for years, Patrick says. "Her publicity outweighed her results. Why is that her fault?" she asks. "Why is it her fault she capitalized on who she is, what she is and what she could offer? She made a lot of companies a lot of money."

•On launching her own clothing line. "I'd love to be Gwen Stefani (who's launched her own line of clothing, handbags and accessories under the L.A.M.B. label). She's just fabulous.

•How long she'll keep racing. Patrick said she'll race for another "10 or so more" years. "I just feel there's a lot more to do in life. It's fun … but it's also dangerous."