By Doug Halberstadt
Last week, former Roscoe, Ill., resident Danica Patrick announced she plans to compete in at least 12 races in the NASCAR Nationwide Series during the upcoming 2010 season. She will be driving for JR Motorsports.
In a statement, Patrick, who also will compete full-time in the Izod IndyCar Series, said: “We just want to be smart and calculative about this process. The tracks we’ve selected not only complement the IndyCar schedule, but will give me quality seat time at a variety of facilities.”
Patrick will make her stock car debut this Saturday, Feb. 6, in the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 at Daytona Beach, Fla., in the Automobile Racing Club of America series, one notch below the Nationwide Series. The following week, her car is entered in the Nationwide Series race Feb. 13 at Daytona International Speedway—but JR Motorsports will determine after the ARCA race whether she will drive the following week in the precursor to NASCAR’s biggest event of the year, the Daytona 500.
“We want to give Danica the best opportunity to compete at Daytona, and that includes making sure she is 100 percent comfortable in that driver’s seat,” said Kelley Earnhardt, the sister of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the general manager of JR Motorsports. “The Nationwide race there is perhaps the most competitive race of the year.”
If she doesn’t race in the Nationwide event in Daytona, she’ll make her debut in that series Feb. 20 in Fontana, Calif. She is also scheduled to race the following weekend (Feb. 27) in Las Vegas. Then, she will focus on the IndyCar Series before racing in a Nationwide Series event June 26 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Patrick plans to participate in Nationwide races at Chicagoland Speedway July 9; Michigan International Speedway Aug. 14; Dover, Del., International Speedway Sept. 25; back in Fontana, Calif., Oct. 9; Charlotte Motor Speedway Oct. 15; Gateway International Raceway in Illinois Oct. 23; Texas Motor Speedway Nov. 6; Phoenix International Raceway Nov. 13; and Homestead-Miami Speedway in Florida Nov. 20.
In Saturday’s ARCA race, Patrick’s fellow female IndyCar rival Milka Duno will also be attempting to make the field. There’s no word yet about whether Duno will compete in any other races outside of the IndyCar Series this year.
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the Feb. 3-9, 2010 issue.