LISTEN TO DANICA PATRICK/TONY STEWART COMMENTS
Danica Patrick will be begin her career as a Sprint Cup Series driver in next February's Daytona 500.
"The Great American Race" is one of eight firm events on Patrick's Cup schedule with Stewart-Haas Racing with a pair of races yet to be determined.
“Our goal with Danica’s schedule is to try and maximize her 10 races with us so that she’s as prepared as she can possibly be for a full-time Sprint Cup schedule in 2013,” said team co-owner Tony Stewart at Friday's announcement at Texas Motor Speedway. “In the GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, she’ll handle short tracks, intermediate 1.5-mile ovals, and some unique tracks like Darlington and Phoenix. The point is to expose her to as many challenges as possible so that she’ll know what to expect in 2013.
“Between our schedule and her full Nationwide Series schedule for JR Motorsports, Danica will gain a lot of experience quickly. At the same time, we’ll monitor her progress, and if we feel there’s a particular venue or style of track where more seat time would be beneficial, we have two races where we can call an audible and enter her in those events.”
After her Daytona debut Patrick will concentrate solely on her Nationwide Series program with JR Motorsports before returning to the Cup schedule. The remaining races outlined in Friday's announcement were:
· May 12: Darlington (S.C.) Raceway
· Aug. 25: Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway
· Sept. 2: Atlanta Motor Speedway
· Sept. 16: Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill.
· Sept. 30: Dover (Del.) International Speedway
· Nov. 4: Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth
· Nov. 11: Phoenix International Raceway
Patrick said the schedule between both dvisions will be challenging but she's ready for the next phase of her career.
"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," Patrick said. "That was pretty much the biggest thing, at this point in time.
"At a place like Darlington, for example, where I'll run the Cup and Nationwide cars together, one absolutely will help the other. Tony [Eury Jr., Nationwide crew chief] has said sometimes the Cup guys like to do the Nationwide races to get more laps so they get more comfortable on the track. Sometimes guys like to do races at places they're good at, so they can just have fun -- like Junior at Bristol, or something. But for me, it's going to be about laps."
Patrick will drive a car with the No. 10, a choice she made.
“Obviously, a lot of people associate the No. 7 with me because it’s what I ran in IndyCar and it’s what I run in Nationwide," she said. "But before the No. 7, there was the No. 10. When we were talking about what number we could run in Sprint Cup, I thought it was pretty cool how Tony chose his and how Ryan (Newman) picked his. There was a connection between their numbers and their racing careers. The No. 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 restated her Indy Car career is over except for the possibility of one race, the Indianapolis 500, which she'd stil consider running.
"That's it," she said.
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