Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Danica Patrick to run part time NASCAR for JR Motorsports

On Tuesday, Danica Patrick has announced her intentions of playing with the NASCAR boys in 2010. JR Motorsports has signed the IndyCar series' most popular driver to campaign a part time effort in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. After long speculation by NASCAR insiders, Patrick's official statement was hardly a surprise (in fact, one website had accidentally posted a picture with her wearing the JR Motorsports Godaddy.com driving suit).

Starting in 2010, Patrick will be wheeling a #7 Chevrolet Impala sponsored by Godaddy.com (a company long associated with Patrick and JR Motorsports). Playing it smart, the young race car driver has slated to run selected races which will not interfere with her continued full season involvement in the Izod IndyCar series with Andretti Autosport. With that said, no announcements on Danica Patrick's specific NASCAR Nationwide schedule has been brought to the media as yet. However, Patrick is planning to run the 200-mile ARCA at Daytona International Speedway as her first chance to evaluate the heavier stock car race vehicle in competition.

The first woman IndyCar race winner's top-notch sponsorship and race winning JR Motorsports equipment will provide the first ever real exhibition of how a qualified female racer matches against the best male competitors of the sport of NASCAR. Guaranteed the receive a bulk of the media attention in the first race she enters, she will not be the first open wheel racer to be baked by the media spotlights. Juan Pablo Montoya and Jacques Villeneuve were photographed nonstop through their first outings. Of course, the case of Jacques Villeneuve brings up another critical factor that must be kept in mind as Danica Patrick competes in her first races. Patrick, preparing to make her 6th season in Izod IndyCar racing series for 2010, is starting from a clean slate as a rookie in stock car racing. Although JR Motorsports cars will ease the learning curve, expect to see Danica Patrick grow as a racer this year.

Danica Patrick's position as a race car driver will not be the only strong woman presence within the JR Motorsports team. Kelly Earnhardt (sister of Dale Earnhardt Jr and a respectable former stock car racer in her own right) has since taken an equity stake in JR Motorsports placing her along with Dale Jr, Tony Eury Sr, and Rick Hendrick as team owner.

With a loyal fan base always surrounding Danica Patrick with the IndyCar events, NASCAR and Patrick herself are counting for her trademark racing aggression to translate into the closed-fendered stock cars.

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