Lamentably, it appears that the IZOD IndyCar Series will soon lose Danica Patrick to the greener pastures of NASCAR.
The loss to the series is significant, but let's be frank - the IZOD IndyCar Series paddock is full of bright, talented folks who will be able to take up the slack when Danica bolts for the tin tops.
I'll admit right now that there isn't one single driver in the paddock that can replace Danica in full, but I think we can figure out a way to take care of this by committee.
Hit the jump to see how we'll manage it...Driver Most Likely to Fill the "Wear Fruit Rollups and Pose Provocatively on Muscle Cars" Niche:
Tomas Scheckter. There's got to be some permutation of the word "jawn" that means "faux-leather man-thong" and/or "ass-crack on a radiator."
Driver Most Likely to Fill the "Hands Raised to the Heavens in Frustration" Niche:
Graham Rahal, hands down (er, actually, up). It's almost as if he's been practicing it all season.
Driver Most Likely to Storm Down the Pit Lane at Indianapolis Spoiling for a Fight:
Normally we'd have a slam dunk in Paul Tracy here, but heaven knows if he'll be around for a full season. I'd have to say Will Power could fill this spot if he knew Brian Barnhart was on pit road at the time.
Driver Most Likely to be Best Buds with Jamie Little:
The female drivers who will be left when Danica leaves are a bit too determined to picture Jamie Little saying, "You go, girl!" to them, so I'm going to spitball this and say James Hinchcliffe since he's so amiable.
Driver Most Likely to Produce the Narrowed-Eyes Glare that Makes the Rest of the Field's Nuts Shrink to the Size of Raisins:
Going with Tony Kanaan here. Look, the guy has about .05% body fat and it's all in his lips. The rest is muscle, nasal cartilage, and pure undiluted asskickery. I'd say he scares the shit out of his competition but I think they'd rather hold it - I mean, remember what he does to trackside porta-johns?
Driver Most Likely to Produce Thinly Veiled Cheesecake/Beefcake Commercials for Race Broadcasts:
Marco Andretti. He's already appeared in a shaving cream commercial without a shirt, showing off the pastiest-looking six-pack in the paddock to the delight of swooning fans everywhere. Give that man some spray tan and you're all set.
Driver Most Likely to Face the Most Questions About Being a Woman in Racing:
Pretty much a split decision between Ana Beatriz, Simona de Silvestro, Pippa Mann, and Dario Franchitti (I KID, I KID).
Driver Most Likely to Spur Fans to Make Posterboard Marriage Proposals:
JR Hildebrand, if only because they can imagine themselves riding shotgun in those fantastically awesome cars he keeps receiving as gifts.
Driver Most Likely to Monopolize ABC Racing Coverage to the Exclusion of All Else:
Ooo, tough one here. I'm pretty sure Dario Franchitti thinks it's all about him, but as to who it actually will be all about, I guess I'd have to go with Helio Castroneves because of that whole Dancing With The Stars thing (that's still on ABC, right?).
Driver Most Likely to Appear on a Red Carpet in Hollywood:
You're thinking that since Dario is married to Ashley Judd that he'd be a shoe-in. Funny you should mention shoes, though - because it'd be Dan Wheldon, what with his camera-ready and ultra-reflective teeth, metrosexual shoe fetish, and history of successful Grid Run schmoozing, who would be the best candidate.
Driver Most Likely to Have an Excuse for Poor Results and/or Accidents that Involves Someone Else:
Wow, we could pick virtually anyone in the paddock on this one, considering the nature of race car drivers... but once again I'd have to go with Dario here for no other reason than his stupefying post-wreck analysis at New Hampshire.
Driver Most Likely to String Everyone Along Coyly for an Entire Season About Plans to Switch to NASCAR:
I'm pretty sure that nobody in the paddock is that douchey.
(Ed. note: The above was for entertainment purposes only and is meant to be in fun. Please don't sue.)