Danica Patrick will begin her Sprint Cup career with a guaranteed starting spot in the Daytona 500.
Thanks to a "collaborative partnership" between Stewart-Haas Racing and Tommy Baldwin Racing, Patrick gets a starting berth in next month's Daytona 500.
The No. 10 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet will now technically be fielded out of the TBR stable. TBR’s No. 36 car, which finished the 2011 season thirty-third in points, becomes the No. 10 for 2012.
For the 26 races where Patrick is not scheduled to drive, David Reutimann will pilot the No. 10 car.
“Tommy Baldwin Racing has proven to be a very strong organization and it’s a good fit with Stewart-Haas Racing,” said Matt Borland, vice president of competition, SHR. “It’s a Chevrolet team led by a racer who knows every inch of a racecar. That kind of technical expertise, along with a company mindset that is similar to ours, provides the ideal environment for Danica to learn and succeed.”
TBR will field two cars in 2012 with Dave Blaney joining the No. 10 entry this coming season.
“We’re very proud of what we’ve established at Tommy Baldwin Racing, and the opportunity to partner with Stewart-Haas Racing and aid in the development of Danica Patrick is a testament to all the hard work we’ve put in over the years,” Baldwin said. “Danica will have a great teammate in Dave Blaney, who has been instrumental in getting our race team to where it is today. And with David Reutimann driving the No. 10 car in the races where Danica is not, the team will remain in a strong and competitive position throughout the year.”
Greg Zipadelli, who came to SHR this season to serve as the team's Director of Competition, will serve as Patrick's crew chief in her ten race schedule.
“Working with Tommy will be like old times,” Zipadelli said. “We both grew up together and competed against each other in Modifieds and we did the same thing when we got to Sprint Cup. To finally be able to work with each other and help Danica Patrick make a successful transition from Indy cars to stock cars is a challenge we’re both looking forward to.
“Partnering with Tommy and his team provides Danica with the foundation she needs to succeed. With a guaranteed starting spot, we can go into each weekend and simply learn. It’s all about getting her comfortable in the car, and with the variety of tracks she’s running, seat time will be incredibly valuable. A guaranteed spot in the race ensures that she’ll have the opportunity to make as many laps as possible.”
Patrick, who will also run a full Nationwide Series program for JR Motorsports in 2012, will run nine more Cup races in addition to Daytona this season.
“Our goal with Danica’s schedule is to try and maximize her 10 races so that she’s as prepared as she can possibly be for a full-time Sprint Cup schedule in 2013,” said Tony Stewart, co-owner of SHR. “There are 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.”
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