Danica Patrick set to announce plan to run NASCAR


AP source: Patrick reaches NASCAR deal
By JENNA FRYER, AP Auto Racing Write

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP)?A person familiar with the plan says Danica Patrick has reached a deal to enter NASCAR with JR Motorsports.

Patrick will announce a partial Nationwide Series schedule at a Tuesday news conference in Phoenix, the person familiar with her plans tells The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because she has not officially announced her intentions.

Last week Patrick signed a three-year contract extension with Andretti Autosport to stay in the IndyCar series, but its schedule gives her enough time to also try NASCAR.

It?s not clear yet how many races she will drive in NASCAR?s second-tier series for team owners Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Rick Hendrick.

GoDaddy.com will sponsor Patrick in both IndyCar and NASCAR.


AP: Danica officially set to announce plan to run NASCAR
By Jay Busbee; Yahoo Sports

Danica's coming to NASCAR. For real.

The AP has reported that after months of will-she, won't-she, Danica Patrick is set to announce a deal to enter NASCAR as part of JR Motorsports, the team co-owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Rick Hendrick.

On Tuesday morning in Phoenix, Patrick will announce that she will be running a partial season in the Nationwide Series, NASCAR's second-highest series. It's the second major announcement in as many weeks for Patrick, and it will be a welcome conclusion to the false starts of the last few months.

Last week, Patrick signed an extension with Andretti Autosport to continue driving two more years in open-wheel IndyCar, with a mutual option for a third year. However, the open schedule of IRL would allow Patrick to run a fairly large number of Nationwide races. GoDaddy.com will be Patrick's sponsor in both NASCAR and IRL.

Obviously, there's precedent for Patrick in NASCAR, both as an IRL racer and as a female. Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart started their careers in open-wheel racing, and several established IRL drivers, most notably Juan Pablo Montoya, have made the leap to stock cars. (Though it's worth noting that only Montoya has had significant success, and that only after two years of toil.) On the gender front, there's a small but notable list of women who have run at NASCAR's highest levels.

Assuming Patrick runs all 17 IRL races, which don't even begin until a month after NASCAR's season (and stop six weeks before NASCAR does), here are some of the more prominent tracks at which Patrick could run without conflict as part of the Nationwide season:

? Feb. 14: Camping World 300, Daytona

? Feb. 21: Stater Bros. 300, Auto Club Speedway/California

? Feb. 28: Sam's Town 300, Las Vegas

? Mar. 21: Scotts Turf Builder 300, Bristol

? Apr. 25: Aaron's 312, Talladega

? May 8: Diamond Hill Plywood 200, Darlington

? June 13: Meijer 300, Kentucky Speedway

? July 10: Dollar General 300, Chicagoland

? Aug. 30: NAPA Auto Parts 200, Montreal

? Sept. 11: Virginia 529 College Savings 250, Richmond

? Oct. 16: Dollar General 300, Charlotte

? Nov. 21: Ford 300, Homestead

In all, there are nearly 20 Nationwide races in which Patrick could run, and since her appearance will mean a guaranteed attendance boost, you can count on tracks to do everything they can to entice her to run on their pavement.

Though there are detractors, in NASCAR, there are always detractors. With its limited term and lower-level exposure, the Patrick deal is a winner all the way around; Patrick will bring waves of casual fans to NASCAR, and she's a talented enough driver that she won't totally embarrass herself out on the track. (And if she does, she'll "retire" from NASCAR to "focus all her energy on IndyCar," and that'll be that.)

In the end, though, Danica's announcement may answer some questions, but it begs many more. "Will she drive NASCAR?" has just become "Can she drive NASCAR?" At last, we'll soon find out.


Racing Genius
OOOOHH EEEE!! I'm all wet now!....yawn. More freak show. So Danica is going to "try" some NASCAR. It would be nice if she would "try" to do something (besides look good) where she is. Hell, give her Jr's Cup seat, could she be worse? What a joke. You wanna see her drive, put her in a Mod or better yet a 410 Sprinter. Hey!! why not put
Tiger Woods in a car? We know he can drive (well when not distracted). He and Danica can putt around NASCAR
for awhile and we know he likes white girls. A perfect fit.


KUDOS to Nationwide, at least they are putting a nice caboose on those freight trains they call races....


It?s easy to say Danica Patrick will fail in NASCAR, because odds are she will. That is why she deserves credit for trying.
On Tuesday, Patrick, the wonder woman of the Indy Racing League and her sponsor?s ?racy? spokeswoman, will formally announce what has been speculated about ever since she burst on the motor sports scene after finishing fourth in the 2005 Indianapolis 500 ? she will give NASCAR a try.
It?s a bold move considering where Patrick sits now ? the unquestioned face of a sport who commands the attention of sponsors ranging from a domain name registration website to a private jet service provider. Where she is now, she?s making millions, placed atop a high pedestal with no one in sight to knock her off.
That is what makes this move so gutsy.
If she were broke with no other opportunities on the horizon, making the switch would be a no-brainer. But because she?s already loaded, Patrick actually has something to lose. Monetarily, she?s putting her brand in jeopardy. Career wise, she?s going from a top-five driver to toiling in the minor leagues.
That?s right, Patrick isn?t going straight to NASCAR?s premier Sprint Cup Series to compete against Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon. No, she?ll start in the ARCA Series, known best for its copious wrecks and anonymity. From there, she?ll try to earn a license that will allow her to compete in the Nationwide Series ? NASCAR?s Triple-A ? beginning in February at Daytona.
If there?s big money to be made driving in NASCAR?s minor leagues, Patrick, who has reportedly signed with Dale Earnhardt Jr.?s team, will be the only one earning it. Her bonus ? the one making it worth her while to abandon her comfort zone ? won?t come until she makes it to the Cup Series, assuming she gets there, because the path from the IRL to Cup is littered with the road kill of her contemporaries.
Neither Sam Hornish Jr. nor Dario Franchitti ? both Indy 500 winners, both better than Patrick ? could or has managed any success in NASCAR. It took Juan Pablo Montoya, widely considered one of the premier drivers in the world and an Indy 500 winner as well, three seasons before he was competitive in the Cup Series and he?s yet to win on an oval.
Success in the Cup Series, if it ever comes, isn?t around the corner for Patrick. She?ll need at least a year in the minors ? she?s expected to race a part-time Nationwide schedule in 2010 ? though probably two before she?s ready for Cup. When she finally does get there, she?s looking at least three seasons before she?s even competitive, and that?s only if she follows the same learning curve as Montoya.
Of course, this assumes she cares about such things as being competitive, which you have to believe she does. Any woman who gets to where Patrick has in her chosen profession has to want it pretty bad.?It?s come up in the past to run NASCAR ? [but I] didn?t want to at all,? Patrick said last month. ?I wasn?t really curious. And trust me, there were financial reasons why it would have been a much better idea. So that takes that out of the equation.
?I?ve always thought that the most important thing for me in my career is that I go with my gut and I go with what I want and not worry about the rest. And so now my curiosity is there and I?d like to just try it, and I?d like to see how I get on with the cars. I just think the racing looks fun.?
From now until she proves herself on the field of play, there will be critics who question her motivation, mostly, of course, because she?s a she. In one sense, it?s not fair. She?s good at what she does regardless of which bathroom she uses. But a big part of what she?s become is because she has the bathroom at work all to herself. Dale Earnhardt Jr. faces a similar hurdle. It?s not to say they don?t deserve their opportunity, but rather that they have to do a little more to prove they?ve earned it.
Patrick may never do that. She may never be as good as some people expect her to be in order to match their own expectations. But one thing those same critics can?t ever say is that she was afraid to fail.

By Jay Hart, Yahoo! Sports