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2017 Dakar Rally: Paraguay joins Argentina, Bolivia; Robby Gordon to bypass event

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The 2017 Dakar Rally has one major addition and one significant name missing from the list of competitors.

Dakar Rally coverage begins on Tuesday, January 3, at 5:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

New to the 37th edition of the Rally is the addition of Paraguay to the course map, joining Argentina and Bolivia. Paraguay becomes the 29th different country to be one of the hosts of the Rally over its 36 years of existence, the last nine being held in South America after safety concerns prompted cancellation of the 2008 Rally.

This year’s Rally begins Jan. 2 in Asuncion, Paraguay and ends on Jan. 14 near Buenos Aires, Argentina.

NBCSN’s daily coverage of this year’s Dakar Rally begins on Jan. 3 at 5:30 p.m. ET.

“The route of the 2017 Dakar preserves rally-raid traditions,” new Rally sporting director Mark Coma said in a media release, adding “with a physical challenge that will push the competitors into the world of extreme endurance: 7 selective sections will be over 400 kilometers (248.548 miles) with one of more than 500 kilometers (310.686 miles).

2017-dakar-rally-logo-correct-one-use-this-one“The Rally will be spent 6 days at more than 3,000 meters (9,842.52 feet) above sea level. The balance of difficulties can be illustrated by a double upward trend: the level of difficulty will increase just until the rest day, then a second increase in power will be necessary to reach one’s ideal level for the ‘Super Belen.’ Nothing will be decided until the very last special stage at Rio Cuarto.”

As for the one significant name missing, American driver Robby Gordon – who has starred in IndyCar, NASCAR, off-road racing and is also the founder of the Stadium Super Trucks Series – will not be participating in this year’s event.

“The reason for not running Dakar is that I have been just way too busy with my other projects,” Gordon said in an email to MotorSportsTalk. “Stadium Super Trucks continues to grow, as we have a full schedule in 2017 with races on 3 continents, including 5 races in the US with IndyCar and 2 of our own Stadium Style events. In Australia we have a relationship with V8 Supercars where we have 2 events. And now we are going to China with Stadium Super Trucks for 2 events in 2017.”

Gordon is also working on new projects within his Speed Energy drink, the Arctic Cat 4-wheel platform and continues development of the Gordini Dakar race cars, which will not be ready for this year’s Rally.

However, there are three American competitors to keep a close watch on: motorcycle rider Ricky Brabec, who finished ninth in his Rally debut last year, and Mini driver Bryce Menzies (co-driver is fellow U.S. racer Peter Mortensen). Both Menzies and Mortensen are making their first appearance in the Rally.

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GoDaddy to sponsor Patrick in ‘Danica Double’ at Daytona, Indy — now all she needs are rides

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By The Associated Press

Danica Patrick is going back to green.

GoDaddy Green, to be exact – a fitting color for her farewell tour.

The company will sponsor Patrick in the upcoming “Danica Double” that will close out her racing career, The Associated Press has learned. Patrick has no ride yet for next month’s Daytona 500 or the Indianapolis 500 in May, but she now has the financial backing to pull it off.

This time around, the original GoDaddy Girl will symbolize the new core mission of the company that helped make her one of the world’s most recognizable athletes.

“There’s this great story: I left IndyCar with GoDaddy on my car, I started NASCAR with GoDaddy on my car, I’m most recognized as the GoDaddy green car and driver, and so to finish up my career that way feels appropriate,” Patrick told the AP from Scottsdale, Arizona.

Her final race will be the Indy 500, an appropriate choice because it was “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” that rocketed Patrick and GoDaddy into pop culture notoriety.

GoDaddy and Patrick grew up together. The company switched series with her and marketed her as a strong, sexy woman in 13 Super Bowl commercials – a record appearance for celebrities. Now, the company is most interested in Patrick the budding businesswoman who is firmly closing the door on her racing career and rebranding herself as an entrepreneur . She has a book out, an apparel line, a wine label and confirmed to AP this week that she’s dating Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

“Our goals are so well-aligned,” Barb Rechterman, the chief marketing officer of GoDaddy, told AP. “She’s passionate, tenacious and creative just like so many of our customers who are also looking to leverage the power of the internet and turn their `side hustle’ into a full-time business. Danica absolutely epitomizes the heart of our GoDaddy customers.”

Prepare to hear a lot about the “side hustle” as GoDaddy climbs aboard the so-far fledgling “Danica Double.”

Patrick announced in November she would end her driving career with the Daytona 500 and Indy 500, but didn’t have a deal completed for either race. Still doesn’t. Yet somehow, Patrick always figures a way to get what she wants. Talks ended with Chip Ganassi Racing about a possible ride, and late last month, Patrick said, she called former GoDaddy founder Bob Parsons and asked about a reunion.

GoDaddy has rebranded since it last teamed with Patrick. The company now touts itself as “the world’s largest cloud platform dedicated to small, independent ventures,” and there’s no better spokeswoman than Patrick, who is in the next chapter of her life and her brand.

GoDaddy pulled out of racing after the 2015 season, and Patrick hasn’t had the same level of funding and marketing support since. Patrick has slowly reshaped her image, first into a Instagram model and is now a full-blown lifestyle guru. She realized – at the age of 35 – she was on her own.

She and GoDaddy aligned for a splashy move into NASCAR, where she was glamorous off the track but only mediocre on it. Through all of this, she was married, divorced, spent five years dating fellow driver and competitor Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and then seemed to find herself through a tailored diet, exercise and a healthy lifestyle.

She is cutting the cord on racing after Indy, and her focus is on a sense of well-being far away from the track.

“Their business is so perfectly paired to what is going on with mine, so when we sat down and met, it was like, `Let’s talk about our business. Let’s talk about the messaging. How does this work?”‘ Patrick said. “And this is undeniably perfect for both of us. Not only is it a huge two races and the biggest two races of the year, but on top of that, you have so much `side hustle’ going on, and all the messaging and our brands, and where we are going is so perfectly paired.”w

GoDaddy can help Patrick move on to whatever it is for racing’s former “It Girl.” The company will help her streamline her online presence. Patrick, for the company, is back as a neon green-and-yellow symbol to all the wannabe entrepreneurs chasing dreams.

She’ll get those rides, too. Patrick said she knows she will because she believes she will.

“That’s just the way the universe works,” she said. “You have to ask for what you want. Things have taken a long time with this, but you just have to go with the flow on these things. The universe is not on your time schedule.”

More AP auto racing: https://racing.ap.org/