Danica: Hello Fenders, Good-Bye Paddocks
By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
Danica Patrick’s plans for the future are now officially set and it translates into good news for NASCAR and bad news for the IndyCar Series.
At a press/teleconference held in Patrick’s current hometown of Scottsdale, Ariz. on Thursday morning, Patrick said she would exit the IndyCar Series that she has been driving in since 2005 and move full time to NASCAR – the series in which she has been driving part time the last two seasons.
She will drive several Sprint Cup races for Stewart Haas Racing. She said details of that schedule is yet to be determined, though she said it will likely be eight to 10 races.
Patrick will drive the entire Nationwide schedule for JR Motorsports, the team owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr.
“I’m excited to finally say it,” Patrick said during her presser. “I’m excited to start the next chapter in my life, in our life.”
Patrick broke into American racing seven years ago when she began to driver for Rahal Letterman Racing in the IndyCar Series.
Now with Andretti Autosport, she has made 111 starts in IndyCar and has one victory, which came at the
Motegi oval in Japan in 2008.
She has three poles and 20 top-five finishes.
Patrick left the door open for driving in the 2012 Indianapolis 500.
“I love the Indy 500,” she said. “I feel it is the greatest race in the world. Great fans, there’s so many fans. It is something that I love and would love to continue to do,” she said. “But at this point in time with the schedule, with the Nationwide schedule and everything up in the air, we’re just not sure if that’s going to be in the future or not. But we’re considering it.”
Patrick said she leaves IndyCar without feelings of goals unmet.
She broke into stock cars in 2009, driving in ARCA, K&N Pro Series East and the Nationwide Series.
She has one top-five finish in 20 NNS starts. Her average finish is 24th.
Of making the jump to NASCAR at this point of her career, she said, “I want to do it now.”
Patrick said the goal for 2013 is a full Cup schedule.
Asked if the 2012 Daytona 500 is on her schedule, Bob Parsons, the owner of sponsor Go-Daddy, said, “I think that is a possibility.”
Tony Stewart, co-owner of Stewart Haas Racing, issued the following statement:
“We’re very excited to have Danica Patrick and Go Daddy join Stewart-Haas Racing in 2012 for a limited NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule with the intention of us running her full-time in Sprint Cup in 2013. We’re proud of the fact she wants to come and be a part of Stewart-Haas Racing and what we’ve built with Ryan Newman and myself and all of our partners. Having Danica and Go Daddy as a combination at SHR is something we’re really looking forward to.
“The thing you see in Danica right away is how determined she is to be good at what she does. She’s very dedicated to taking the time and effort to make the transition from Indy cars to stock cars. She has talent, she has the right mindset and she has the proper drive and determination. It doesn’t matter who it is you’re looking for, those are the key attributes that you look for in a driver, and Danica’s got them.”
INDYCAR CEO Randy Bernard issued the following statement regarding Patrick’s announcement today:
“Danica has always been a great ambassador for INDYCAR, and there is no doubt she has left a positive impression on our sport. She has touched millions of fans and many that were new to motorsports. Danica attracted a fan base that every athlete and sports property in the world would love to have. We should give her a great farewell the rest of this season as she opens a new page in her career and wish her continued success with her new direction. “No Comment