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Danica Patrick confirms 2012 Cup schedule

Danica Patrick has unveiled eight of her ten Sprint Cup appearances for 2012, with the former IndyCar star set to make her Cup début at the Daytona 500 season opener.
Danica Patrick has announced eight of the Sprint Cup races that she will compete in for Stewart-Haas Racing during 2012, as part of a limited programme of Cup racing running alongside her full-time Nationwide Series campaign with JR Motorsports.

Patrick will make her Sprint Cup début at the first championship race of the season, the famous Daytona 500 on February 26. After that she will not be back until the May 12 race at Darlington.

The next races that have been confirmed at this stage are Bristol Motor Speedway (August 25), Atlanta Motor Speedway (September 2), Chicagoland Speedway (September 16) and Dover International Speedway (September 30).

The final two confirmed races of the season are Texas Motor Speedway (November 4) and Phoenix International Raceway (November 11). Patrick will also take part in two further races, which will be decided after assessing Patrick's progress in Cup and Nationwide events and "based on need and competitive reasoning."

In deciding the eight races identified so far, "The most weighted factor was places that might be a challenge - places that had unique characteristics, that would be good to get some extra laps at," said Patrick. "That was pretty much the biggest thing, at this point in time.

"Sometimes guys like to do races at places they're good at, so they can just have fun - like Junior at Bristol," she added, referring to her JR Motorsports team boss Dale Earnhardt Jr. "But for me, it's going to be about laps."

Those Cup laps will be in the #10 car - which will startle the many fans who have come to expect to see Patrick in a car with a "7" on it.

"Obviously, a lot of people associate the #7 with me because it's what I ran in IndyCar and it's what I run in Nationwide. But before the #7, there was the #10," she said, referring to her racing experience in the Barber Dodge Pro Series and Toyota Atlantic. "The #10 is what I started with, and to have that number back with me as I start my Sprint Cup career shows how everything has come full circle."

Patrick said that thus far she hasn't has much chance to co-ordinate with the Stewart-Haas team, considering that Tony Stewart has emerged as one of the leading Cup contenders as the Chase approaches its climax.



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Danica Patrick prepares for a NASCAR Nationwide Series race. [Picture credit:  John Sommers II/Getty Images for NASCAR]
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