IndyCar and NASCAR owner Chip Ganassi made no attempt to hide his interest in hiring Danica Patrick - for the IndyCar Series - with the possibility of allowing her to test the NASCAR waters through an alliance with a Nationwide Series team.

"If I told you I didn't have any conversation about that, or I wasn't interested in that, I'd be lying to you," Ganassi said Friday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, "Like a lot of teams, they've had discussions, and she's on the market right now, and she's ready to make the next step in her career, wherever that takes her."

Ganassi, however, cautioned reporters not to make assumptions about the progress of any discussions with Patrick, the most marketable star in the IndyCar Series.

"I wish I could tell you I'm a lot further down the road on that, but I think the fact of the matter is - like most other teams - we're in the top of the first inning on that subject," said Ganassi, who fields two IndyCar teams in addition to Sprint Cup teams for Juan Pablo Montoya and Martin Truex Jr through Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, "You might characterise it as we're on the pace lap yet here, so it's way early."

If Patrick decides to make a full-time move to NASCAR racing, however, Ganassi feels she'd be better off with a team other than EGR.

"If she wanted to do NASCAR on a full-time basis, I would suggest that there are better places for her to go and do it with," he admitted, "I don't think our team's in a position to do that."

Ganassi has six Cup wins as an owner since he began fielding cars in NASCAR in 2001. His last Cup Series win came from Montoya in 2007. It was Ganassi's first Cup victory since 2002. Ganassi has six wins in the Nationwide Series.

by Reid Spencer / Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service

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