By Doug Halberstadt
Former Roscoe resident Danica Patrick had a successful return to the NASCAR Nationwide Series. In the first race of her sophomore season, she had a strong qualifying run and started in the fourth position for the DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona.
Patrick moved her No. 7 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet to the front of the pack and became the first woman in history to lead a lap at the famed racing venue in a NASCAR-sanctioned event. She ended up recording her best finish (14th) in her short NASCAR career.
Patrick will compete in 11 more Nationwide Series races this season in addition to her full-time schedule in the IZOD Indy Car Series. She will compete in the next three Nationwide Series races—Phoenix International Raceway (Feb. 26), Las Vegas Motor Speedway (March 5) and Bristol Motor Speedway (March 19).
Patrick will then take some time off and focus on her IndyCar schedule. She won’t return to the Nationwide Series until the race at Chicagoland Speedway (June 4). She’ll return to the Daytona International Speedway July 1. She’ll continue with races at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve (Aug. 20), Richmond International Speedway (Sept. 9), and Kansas Speedway (Oct. 8). Patrick will conclude her second NASCAR season with the final three races on the Nationwide Series schedule—Texas Motor Speedway (Nov. 5), Phoenix International Raceway (Nov. 12) and Homestead-Miami Speedway (Nov. 19).
Race tracks that were not on Patrick’s 2010 schedule but among her 2011 plans are Bristol, Richmond, Kansas and Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, which is in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Patrick has raced at Richmond and Kansas in the IZOD IndyCar Series.
“This is going to be an exciting year in the No. 7 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet,” said Patrick. “I have a much different perspective heading into this season. I know a little more of what to expect, and I’m not as out of my element. I’ve had a year to work with my team, and there is a comfort level that comes with returning to some of these tracks. It’s obvious experience goes a long way in this sport. Thanks to everyone at Go Daddy and JR Motorsports that have been incredibly supportive throughout this process.”
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the Feb. 23-March 1, 2011, issue