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Danica Patrick confirms NASCAR move
25 August 2011
Danica Patrick has confirmed she will switch to the NASCAR Nationwide Series full-time for the 2012 season.
Patrick will compete for the JR Motorsports team and will also contest a limited Sprint Cup schedule with Stewart-Haas Racing.
Having confirmed she would leave the IndyCar Series at the end of the current season, Patrick revealed the expected news of a switch to the Nationwide Series – where she has contested a total of 20 races so far in her career - during a press conference on Thursday.
GoDaddy.com will move to the Nationwide Series with Patrick as primary sponsor on the #7 entry having followed her over from open-wheel competition.
“I made this decision because of how much I enjoy driving a stock car,” she said. “It's very exciting, I'm excited to finally say it.
"The time is now. The opportunity is now. Bob [Parsons, CEO] and GoDaddy have made that possible. I want to do it. I don't want to wait years. I want to do it now. And I'm lucky enough to have a sponsor that will stand behind me and allow me to go."
Patrick could also make her Sprint Cup debut in the biggest race on the calendar, the season opening Daytona 500.
"We're definitely considering that, but the schedule right now for the Sprint Cup races next year is not set," she said. "It'll probably be about eight to ten races. But the actual races themselves have not been chosen yet."
NASCAR chairman Brian France welcomed the announcement and said he felt it was an exciting moment for fans of the sport.
“We are pleased Danica Patrick has chosen to race full time in NASCAR in 2012,” he said. “She has demonstrated a strong desire to compete and NASCAR provides the best opportunity to race against the top drivers in the world with the largest and most loyal fan base in motorsports on a week-to-week basis.
“Danica has shown solid improvement in NASCAR and we believe her decision to run full time in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, with additional races in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, will be exciting for our fans and a great challenge for her.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr., her new team boss in the Nationwide Series, said after the news broke that "I'm glad she gets the opportunity to devote all of her attention to this car ... People don't understand how difficult it is to do what she did, racing two totally different [types of] cars at the same time.
"Danica has done a great job in a short amount of time for JR Motorsports,” he added. "Her work ethic is probably the best of anyone in the sport ... Danica has earned her place on the track, and I look forward to having her and Go Daddy back in the #7 car next year.”
Tony Stewart, driver and co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing, said that he was "very excited to have Danica Patrick and GoDaddy join Stewart-Haas Racing in 2012 for selected Cup races.
“The thing you see in Danica right away is how determined she is to be good at what she does. She's very dedicated to taking the time and effort to make the transition from IndyCars to stock cars. She has talent, she has the right mindset and she has the proper drive and determination. It doesn't matter who it is you're looking for, those are the key attributes that you look for in a driver, and Danica's got them.”
Stewart also confirmed that the intention was for Patrick to run a full Cup season with Stewart-Haas in 2013.
"We're proud of the fact she wants to come and be a part of Stewart-Haas Racing and what we've built with Ryan Newman and myself and all of our partners. Having Danica and GoDaddy as a combination at SHR is something we're really looking forward to."
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