By Pete Pistone
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.- Danica Patrick is set to embark on her full-time NASCAR career and says she feels comfortable in her no longer new surroundings.
She'll run a complete Nationwide Series program from JR Motorsports in addition to a 10 race Sprint Cup Series schedule, beginning with her first career Daytona 500.
The former open wheel regular is keeping realistic expectations of her initial appearance in "The Great American Race."
“I think that with a race like Daytona, well first off it’s the Daytona 500 and everybody wants to win it of course," Patrick said. "It’s just going to depend on the looking back at the picture of the race and did you run up front at all, what happened, did I make any mistakes, but let’s face it great drivers don’t have great big speedway races because it depends on so many other factors like the tandem running or like staying in touch with the pack or like a pit stop or something like that or staying out of trouble. Like I said you can get caught in an accident that you just couldn’t see through to miss and your day is over.
So I don’t think there is a position that you can put on a race like this because it’s wide open for various levels of experienced drivers to do well. Ultimately we all want to win but at the end of the day it’s going to depend on probably looking back at the race and assessing my mistake level probably.”
Patrick is relieved to have some NASCAR experience under her belt - both behind the wheel as well as simply dealing with the stock car racing culture - and hopes that will be beneficial to growth in 2012.
“Yeah, and I think that comes from learning how it works and getting comfortable and familiar," Patrick said. "I’m very good when I know what’s coming. When I get surprised and things getting added on the schedule is when I get frustrated because expectation levels are everything for me. But not only from my perspective am I more comfortable now but from my assistant’s perspective and the help she gets from Junior Motorsports and Stewart-Hass, I think we all have a much better picture of how to do everything and how to keep it in line and how to help you folks do your job.”
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