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posted: 2/19/2013 5:29 AM

Danica doesn't need to win to come out a winner

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  • Danica Patrick climbs out of her car after her qualifying run for the NASCAR Daytona 500 Sprint Cup Series auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013, in Daytona Beach, Fla. Patrick won the pole, becoming the first woman to secure the top spot for any Sprint Cup race.

      Danica Patrick climbs out of her car after her qualifying run for the NASCAR Daytona 500 Sprint Cup Series auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013, in Daytona Beach, Fla. Patrick won the pole, becoming the first woman to secure the top spot for any Sprint Cup race.

 
By Mike North
The Rebel Insider

Did you get the big news? Danica Patrick, the pride and joy of Roscoe, Illinois, won the pole position at the Daytona 500.

It's the first time a woman has accomplished that, but it also has been over two decades since someone with the pole position has won the race.

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Nevertheless, NASCAR officials and promoters celebrated the good news. After all, they have been suffering through a lack of interest and sagging ratings and believe just the hint of Danica will improve their bottom line.

Contrary as it may seem to the uninformed fan, the two most popular drivers on the circuit happen to be the two biggest losers -- at least on the track.

The first, Dale Earnhardt, has been voted the most popular driver for over a decade. The obvious reason is that with the last name of Earnhardt he trumps all other drivers.

The second, the gutsy Danica, is hugely popular for two reasons -- first because she is a female driver, and second because she is an attractive female driver.

Back in the 1990s when we would have female columnists on the radio to discuss topics like the merits of Title IX and the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, I remember sparring with several great columnists such as Christine Brennan of USA Today and Sally Jenkins of The Washington Post.

I was called a sexist and the question was posed: why publicize women just because they are in bikinis? But Danica manages to work the system perfectly, and she has achieved plenty of financial success.

Another driver with her record would never have attained the celebrity status she has reached. Look, she has been in over 20 accidents or fender benders since she has been racing in the big-time.

I have no problem with Danica Patrick, who is making plenty of money and it appears she is starting to learn her craft. If she wins Daytona or any other race in the stakes, she will be a legend.

That said, I believe right now she's popular for some of the reasons a lot of the female media members in sports used to disdain. You can't really blame her -- she is doing whatever it takes to succeed. If being photographed in a bikini helps, she says it's not a problem.

In the meantime, she's down to 22 to 1 odds in Las Vegas. She probably won't win, but then again she doesn't have to win.

One-on-one with MJ

If you go to dailyherald.com, you will see some great old tape of yours truly playing Michael Jordan one-on-one in a game of basketball at the Michael Jordan Basketball fantasy camp in Las Vegas in 1997.

He had to shoot from three-point land, but everything else was in play. I got a chance to play ball with the greatest, and it just doesn't get much better than that.

Go to North to North.com and check out the Daily Herald archive on the front page.

Program note:

Watch me on Mancow's show on WPWR Ch. 50 at 6 a.m. Friday and Monday.

• Mike North's column appears each Tuesday and Friday in the Daily Herald, and his video commentary can be found Monday, Wednesday and Thursday at dailyherald.com. For more, visit northtonorth.com.

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