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Patrick’s Cup Plans Announced

| , RacinToday.com Friday, November 4 2011

Danica Patrick to drive in 10 Cup races next year. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Christa L Thomas)

A couple of more questions about Danica Patrick’s NASCAR future were answered on Friday during a press conference at Texas Motor Speedway.

At the press conference, which was attended by both Patrick and her Sprint Cup team owner, Tony Stewart, it was announced that Patrick will drive in 10 Cup races next year.

Also, she will be driving the No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet.

Patrick, a seven-year veteran of the IZOD IndyCar Series where she became the first woman in series history to win a race, is making the full transition to stock cars in 2012, competing in the entire NASCAR Nationwide Series schedule for JR Motorsports and a 10-race Sprint Cup schedule for SHR.

Patrick’s Sprint Cup debut will come in the 54th annual Daytona 500 on Feb. 26 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. Her remaining Sprint Cup races are as follows:

· May 12: Darlington (S.C.) Raceway

· Aug. 25: Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway

· Sept. 2: Atlanta Motor Speedway

· Sept. 16: Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill.

· Sept. 30: Dover (Del.) International Speedway

· Nov. 4: Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth

· Nov. 11: Phoenix International Raceway

Two Sprint Cup races are to be determined, with the plan being to assess Patrick’s development in the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series as the season progresses and then choose the remaining venues based on need and competitive reasoning.

“Our goal with Danica’s schedule is to try and maximize her 10 races with us so that she’s as prepared as she can possibly be for a full-time Sprint Cup schedule in 2013,” said Stewart, co-owner of SHR with Gene Haas, founder of Haas Automation – the largest machine tool manufacturer in the western world. “In the GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, she’ll handle short tracks, intermediate 1.5-mile ovals, and some unique tracks like Darlington and Phoenix. The point is to expose her to as many challenges as possible so that she’ll know what to expect in 2013.

“Between our schedule and her full Nationwide Series schedule for JR Motorsports, Danica will gain a lot of experience quickly. At the same time, we’ll monitor her progress, and if we feel there’s a particular venue or style of track where more seat time would be beneficial, we have two races where we can call an audible and enter her in those events.”

“There were a lot of reasons why Stewart-Haas Racing made sense for me, but probably the biggest reason was Tony Stewart,” Patrick added. “He’s already done what I’m trying to do – make the transition from open-wheel cars to stock cars. If there’s anyone who knows what I need to do and what I need to look out for, it’s him.”

Stewart is a four-time USAC champion and the 1997 IZOD IndyCar Series champion. He is also a two-time Sprint Cup champion with 42 career victories, the most recent of which came last Sunday at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.

“Long before I even came to NASCAR, I talked to Tony and used him as a sounding board, whether it was in regard to what I was doing in Indy cars or what I was thinking about doing in NASCAR,” Patrick said. “He was always honest with me and really helped prepare me for what was ahead. I know he’s going to be very involved in my Sprint Cup career, and with the conversations we’ve had with each other, we feel this schedule and this plan is the best way to get me acclimated to Sprint Cup racing as quickly as possible.”

| , RacinToday.com Friday, November 4 2011
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