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Thunder Claps: Danica Plans And Driver Feuds

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Thursday, January 10 2013

Danica Patrick talked about 2013 plans on Thursday. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Gregg Ellman)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor

News, notes and quotes from Day 1 of the three-day Preseason Thunder test session at Daytona International Speedway:

Danica Patrick kicked off her first season as a full-time Sprint Cup driver on Thursday. Between practice runs, she shed a bit of light on her racing life in 2013.

First, she said that her Nationwide Series situation remains a question mark.

“Nationwide,” Patrick said, “I am not sure if that is completely set. I know there have been some reports that have come out about running for Turner (Scott Motorsports). We are definitely talking to them trying to figure it out and we are definitely working on that, but there has been nothing signed yet. The exact dates, the races and the sponsor have yet to be confirmed for all that. We are working on it, but I would like to. I think that would be a good weekend to do it.”

She also discussed talk that she would return to IndyCar to compete in the Indianapolis 500 in May.

“I can confirm to you today that I will not be doing the Indy 500,” she said. “I am just going to do the Coke 600. The team and I decided to focus on Cup. It’s going to be plenty of work as it is. It’s going to be important for me running for the championship full-time for the first time to really keep myself focused with the Cup car. But if I do the Indy 500 moving forward it will be with GoDaddy.

Clint Bowyer’s hopes for a 2012 Cup championship were ended last year by Jeff Gordon, who purposely crashed the Michael Waltrip Racing driver at Phoenix in November.

Bowyer was asked if he had talked to Gordon about the incident since teams and drivers arrived at Daytona this week.

“Who cares? Really, who cares? Apparently you guys do way more than we do,” Bowyer said. “I can promise you that.”

Bowyer and Gordon did meet up during the offseason. That happened during a New Years Eve party on a yacht in the Caribbean.

“I was on the damndest boat you’ve ever seen in your life,” Bowyer said. “I’m from Kansas. We don’t have big boats in Kansas. We don’t have very big bodies of water so I think he (Gordon) was on that same boat, but there was a lot of other people on there and it was a big time being had. Yes, he (Gordon) was on there and I think it was on the same island. I’m pretty sure he was on there. It was pretty late. Put it that way.”

Asked how he and Bowyer ended up at the same party on the same boat, Gordon answered, “The question is how he got on the yacht.”

Gordon was ambiguous when asked whether anything had been resolved between he and Bowyer, who provoked a brawl in the pits at Phoenix.

“It was just an amazing event that (party host) P. Diddy had,” said Gordon, who has been vacationing at St. Bart’s for the past few years. “We were just hanging out, having a good time, and on walks Bowyer and (Kevin) Harvick and a couple of other folks…

“We talked. We talked – and I had a great New Years.”

JR Motorsports announced the hiring of Mike Bumgarner as crew chief for the No. 5 Great Clips Chevrolet in NASCAR Nationwide Series competition in 2013. The team is currently slated for 27 races with drivers Kasey Kahne and Brad Sweet.

Bumgarner has spent the last 18 years at Hendrick Motorsports, where he worked on cars for Terry Labonte, Jeff Gordon, and Kyle Busch. In 2007 he was crew chief on Busch’s No. 5 Chevrolet in the Nationwide Series. Together they compiled four wins, 14 top-fives, 16 top-10s and three pole awards in 2007.

Bumgarner’s jump into NASCAR came in 1992 with a team owned by Kenny Bernstein. Three years later he began employment at Hendrick Motorsports.

Bumgarner is from Huntersville, N.C. His naming as crew chief for Kahne and Sweet fills one of the final remaining slots in the JRM line-up for 2013. Greg Ives, who similarly arrived to JRM via Hendrick Motorsports, will head the No. 7 TaxSlayer.com/Hellmann’s team and driver Regan Smith.

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Thursday, January 10 2013


  • mazakk says:

    I’d love to know the real reason why Danica isn’t driving for Kelly Earnhardt this year.

    • Rita Jean says:

      Their announcement that they needed to be “competitive again” was loud and clear. The sideshow, the drama, the fact that she can’t handle a stock car had all come to light before the season ended. Why fire the Eury’s? Having DANICA leave the team was all they needed. Regan Smith won the dang race the first time he sat in the exact…same…equipment.