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Patrick to make Nationwide debut Saturday

Danica Patrick to debut in the NASCAR Nationwide Series at Daytona after impressive ARCA showing
Danica Patrick has made a living of going fast. So why put off until next week what she can do this week?

Patrick will make her NASCAR debut Saturday in the Nationwide Series season-opening Drive4COPD 300 at Daytona International Speedway.

Patrick announced the decision Monday, two days after finishing sixth in her stock-car debut in the ARCA race at Daytona.

“Racing in the Nationwide Series race was my goal during this entire two-month preparation process, but we wanted to make sure it was the right thing to do,” Patrick said. “The ARCA race was a blast, and I'm not ready for my first Daytona Speedweeks to end just yet. I want more racing.”

Her JR Motorsports team had a car ready for her for the Nationwide race, the first of 13 planned this year around her IndyCar schedule.

“I think Danica proved to everyone that she can compete in stock cars at a high level, and right now seat time is extremely important,” JRM co-owner Kelley Earnhardt said. “She has worked extremely hard during the past two months for this opportunity. Her dedication and work ethic is infectious.”

Patrick, 27, is locked in the field, thanks to a points transfer from the #11 CJM Racing team last year. Patrick will have at least one drafting partner in the race — team co-owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be driving the #88 car. The decision for Patrick to run the #7 car will mean that JR Motorsports regular driver Kelly Bires will not be in a JRM car for the event.

After Daytona, Patrick will run in the next two Nationwide Series events at Auto Club Speedway in California and Las Vegas before taking nearly four months off before her next NASCAR event June 26 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Patrick, the only woman to win an IndyCar Series race, had considered not competing at Daytona because of the uniqueness of restrictor-plate racing and also the number of Sprint Cup drivers in the event. But having survived a spin and moving from the back of the pack to near the front during the ARCA race, Patrick felt as if she progressed enough to make her NASCAR debut on NASCAR's biggest stage a day before the Daytona 500.

“There's been a lot of people, a lot of really good people, that have told me it's not the right place to start,” Patrick said last Friday. “It's a weird race. There's so many Cup guys out there. I don't want to be out there and make a mistake and take somebody out that's running for a championship or, God forbid, take out one of the Cup guys and making them mad right away.

“And it will not happen on purpose but it will be inexperience, so I just want to play it smart.”


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Danica Patrick
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, races to victory Sunday, November 15, 2015 in the final round of the Eliminator 8 NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase race at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Arizona. Defending Sprint Cup Champion Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS advances to the Champion 4 with his second place finish. Harvick is joined with Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet SS and Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Pepsi Chevrolet SS to the Sprint Cup Series Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida next Sunday. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, and Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, lead the field onto pit road due to rain during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 15, 2015 in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, celebrates on pit road after winning the rain-shortened NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 15, 2015 in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the crew of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet team celebrate in victory lane after winning the rain-shortened NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 15, 2015 in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
(L-R) Team owner Rick Hendrick, Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, and crew chief Greg Ives celebrate in victory lane after winning the rain-shortened NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 15, 2015 in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
(L-R) Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, and crew chief Greg Ives celebrate in victory lane after winning the rain-shortened NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 15, 2015 in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
(L-R) Amy Reimann celebrates with Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, in victory lane after Earnhardt won the rain-shortened NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 15, 2015 in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, celebrates his win Sunday, November 15, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase race at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS, wins his second 2015 Texas victory Sunday, November 8, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. The six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion delivered another Chevrolet SS milestone with it`s 50th win today at Texas Motor Speedway in 106 starts. Johnson delivered the 6th Gen race car`s first win in it`s 2013 Daytona 500 debut. Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John`s Chevrolet SS finished in third place and Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS finished in seventh place.  The second round of the Eliminator 8 continues next week at Phoenix International Speedway in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS, celebrates his second 2015 Texas victory with a burnout Sunday, November 8, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. The six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion delivered another Chevrolet SS milestone with it`s 50th win today at Texas Motor Speedway in 106 starts. Johnson delivered the 6th Gen race car`s first win in it`s 2013 Daytona 500 debut. The second round of the Eliminator 8 continues next week at Phoenix International Speedway in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo by Gregg Ellman/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS, races to his second 2015 Texas victory Sunday, November 8, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. The six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion delivered another Chevrolet SS milestone with it`s 50th win today at Texas Motor Speedway in 106 starts. Johnson delivered the 6th Gen race car`s first win in it`s 2013 Daytona 500 debut. The second round of the Eliminator 8 continues next week at Phoenix International Speedway in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS, celebrates his second 2015 Texas victory Sunday, November 8, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. The six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion delivered another Chevrolet SS milestone with it`s 50th win today at Texas Motor Speedway in 106 starts. Johnson delivered the 6th Gen race car`s first win in its 2013 Daytona 500 début. The second round of the Eliminator 8 continues next week at Phoenix International Speedway in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 DeWalt Toyota, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series CampingWorld.com 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 23, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 3M Chevrolet, and Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Time Warner Cable Chevrolet, lead the field during the pace laps prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series CampingWorld.com 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 25, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Hormel/Menards Toyota, and John Wes Townley, driver of the #05 Zaxby`s Chevrolet, lead a pack of trucks during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series fred`s 250 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 24, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, qualifies for twelfth position Thursday, October 8, 2015 for Saturday`s first phase of the Contender 12 round of the Chase in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. Earnhardt, Jr. joins five other Chevy drivers competing in the Contender 12.  (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout in front of his crew after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway on October 4, 2015 in Dover, Delaware. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

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