CHARLOTTE - She'll have a busy schedule ahead of her but Danica Patrick is concetrating solely on NASCAR this season.
Patrick has a full Nationwide Series season planned for JR Motorsports and a ten race Sprint Cup Series schedule for Stewart-Haas Racing.
That won't leave her any time to even consider running the Indianapolis 500 in 2012 and quite frankly she finds some comfort in the decision.
“It’s kind of a relief to just focus on NASCAR as I have a lot to learn and I’m going to need to focus completely on it,” Patrick said. "I know that I am going to have the whole season to do that, and that makes me feel good. And with more racing, there are going to be more expectations to do well, and I want to do that and the focus will help that.”
Patrick admitted to trying to work out something to continue her participation at Indy Memorial Day weekend but the hectic pace of her NASCAR schedule was something she couldn't work around.
“Qualifying at Indy is the same weekend as the Iowa [Nationwide] race and I have had great moments with qualifying where it is over and done with very quickly and I’ve had dramatic weekends where it goes on until the very end," she said during Monday's opening day of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Media Tour. "Having that chance that it might go on until the very end would interfere with the Nationwide schedule, and I can’t have that.
“Just like when I raced IndyCar and did part-time NASCAR, it was all about making sure everything was good to go on the IndyCar side and nothing interfered. The same applies with the Nationwide Series and making sure I am there for every moment of it and as prepared as possible. That was definitely a concern – the schedule. And then beyond that, the deal business-wise didn’t work out.”
Her new Sprint Cup team boss Tony Stewart said he was in favor of Patrick trying to work out a deal to run Indy and that he in now way stood in her way.
However at the end of the day Stewart is pleased Patrick will be able to concentrate on NASCAR only this year.
“It was her decision. We didn’t tell her that she couldn’t run the 500, it was left up to her,” Stewart said. “But obviously she is running the Nationwide car full time and it’s a good weekend to get a lot of laps in the car.
“It shows how dedicated she is to making this transition.”
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