NWS: Danica's NASCAR debut could come at Daytona?

IndyCar Series winner Danica Patrick mulls Daytona Nationwide race as first NASCAR start.
JR Motorsports will leave it up to Danica Patrick as to when she will make her Nationwide Series debut.

Patrick will definitely race in the February 20 Nationwide Series race at Auto Club Speedway in California and the February 27 Nationwide race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway but could wait until after the Automobile Racing Club of America event February 6 at Daytona International Speedway before deciding whether to race in the Nationwide event February 13 at Daytona.

"The race is basically a Cup race - some 30-odd drivers from Cup (are) running that race, and is that the right time for me to start or not? I'm really not sure," Patrick said Thursday at JR Motorsports. "You only get one grand opening, as I've heard. We want it to be the right opportunity. We want to make sure everything is going the right direction, and everyone is on board with that.

"There is support across the board if I do or don't do it. It's just really a matter of time when we make that decision. We don't want to overcommit and underdeliver."

The 27-year-old Patrick will run up to 13 races in each of the next two years as she also competes full time in the Izod IndyCar Series.

"The biggest decision is going to be made, Danica is going to make (whether to run Daytona)," JR Motorsports director of competition Tony Eury Sr. said. "She doesn't know what to expect. I think she wants to wait until after the ARCA race. She wants to do good. She doesn't want to start off with negative press. If she thinks she can be in the Nationwide race and be a competitive car in the race, I think you'll see her there running.

"If she doesn't think she's quite ready for that after the ARCA race, I don't think you'll see her there. Whatever her decision is, we'll be prepared for it."

JR Motorsports is committed to putting her in a car with points for the Daytona race (if she runs), Auto Club and Las Vegas but after that, because the #7 is running part time, she will have to qualify on speed.

As far as Daytona, Patrick has talked with team co-owners Dale Earnhardt and Rick Hendrick about whether to start her Nationwide career on the restrictor-plate track.

"Daytona is just a beast," co-owner Kelley Earnhardt said. "Like she alluded to, the experience of 30-some Cup drivers out there against what experience she is going to have. Is that a situation she wants to put herself into? It's a do-or-die situation.

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NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Danica Patrick talks about running up to 13 races next season in the #7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet [Pic credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR]

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