Double the Danica at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2010?
Danica Patrick made history at Japan in 2008. Patrick beat Coral Gables resident Helio Castroneves and Scott dixon to claim her first victory in the IndyCar Series (photo courtesy: Darrell Ingham, Getty Images Sport)
The worst-kept secret in racing has become official reality: Danica Patrick will drive a limited NASCAR Nationwide Series schedule in 2010 for JR Motorsports. One of the most marketable and popular drivers in the IZOD IndyCar Series, she joins forces with a team co-owned by NASCAR’s most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr.
"I think when the idea came about a few years ago…to run some NASCAR stuff, it really was a thought, but I wasn't as prepared mentally as I am now,” Patrick said in early December. "I've, over the years, had an increasingly busy schedule, and I feel like there probably will be almost more consistency to this schedule than what I've had in the last year or two.”
Initial reports indicate that IndyCar’s first lady will make her stock-car racing debut in the Feb. 6 ARCA Series race at Daytona International Speedway and then perhaps run the Nationwide race on Feb. 13 at Daytona in the No. 7 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet.
“I think that the schedule doesn't intimidate me as much it used to,” said Patrick, who is under contract with Andretti Autosport in the IZOD IndyCar Series for the next two years with a mutual option for a third. “It's going to be a lot to learn. That's the real key part here is there is a lot to learn.”
Patrick turned her first laps in a stock car recently at Daytona International Speedway during a three-day test for the ARCA Racing Series presented RE/MAX and Menards in preparation for the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 on Saturday, Feb. 6.
Patrick, behind the wheel of the No. 88 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet for JR Motorsports, turned only four laps in a 35-minute session that was cut short due to rain showers. She was 12th on the speed chart with a lap of 51.095 seconds, 176.142 mph.
“It’s definitely by far the biggest track that I have been on in a stock car since I’ve only ever been on a mile before,” Patrick said. “It was a big difference. The car moves around quite a bit. The car was definitely getting some action in the rear over the bumps. It was getting a little bit loose but I kept my foot in it and tried not chasing it too much with the steering.”
Patrick will make her stock car debut in the season-opening Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 and will use the 80-lap, 200-mile race to prepare for her partial NASCAR Nationwide Series schedule with JR Motorsports.
While it was only one run, Patrick was happy to finally get on the track.
“I was glad to get out there,” Patrick said of Friday’s session. “It would have been nice to do a few runs and actually make a change or two (on the car) and feel things out. I’m definitely glad to have gotten that run. We will go from here. I’m happy with that and we’re ready to build on that.”
Patrick has turned laps at Daytona International speedway before – around the road course in both the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series and during an IZOD IndyCar Series test back in 2007.
But being in a stock car called for noticeable changes.
“I felt most disoriented with how the heck am I suppose to get my stuff on because I can’t get into the car with all that stuff on,” Patrick said. “I got to buckle my belts and I can’t do it with my helmet on. So I get in the car and I’ve got to tuck my hair down the back of my suit and I can’t do it because I’m strapped in. I’m just awfully confused. So I decided that I need to put everything on but my helmet and then get in the car. It sounds silly but it’s logistics and logistics that I’m not used to.”
Will it be double the Danica at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2010? Stay tuned to THEChampionshipTrack.com or call toll free (866) 409-RACE for more information.