Danica Patrick Announces Move to NASCAR

Star driver unveils future plans at Phoenix press conference

Danica Patrick
Tuesday, December 8, 2009

From Sporting News Wire Service

In broad strokes, Danica Patrick painted a picture of her future in NASCAR racing.

But there was far less detail on her landscape Tuesday morning than on the giant frescoes of Arizona's natural wonders high above the Rotunda floor at Phoenix's Chase Field, where the IndyCar Series' most popular driver announced a two-year Nationwide Series deal with JR Motorsports.

Here's what is known after the 40-minute news conference, where Patrick, JRM co-owner Kelley Earnhardt and GoDaddy.com founder and CEO Bob Parsons unveiled the No. 7 Chevrolet that Patrick will drive in a limited number of Nationwide races in 2010.

* Patrick will make her stock car racing debut in the ARCA race February 6 at Daytona International Speedway, the day before the NFL Super Bowl. To prepare for that event, Patrick will participate in an ARCA test December 18-20 at Daytona.

* Most of Patrick's Nationwide races will be bookended around her IndyCar season, which begins March 14 in Brazil and ends October 2 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

* Web hosting provider GoDaddy.com will sponsor Patrick in the races she runs.

* Tony Eury Jr., former Sprint Cup crew chief for Dale Earnhardt Jr. and a JRM co-owner with Kelley Earnhardt, Earnhardt Jr. and Rick Hendrick, will serve as Patrick's crew chief.

Beyond that, plans are vague. Still to be worked out are Patrick's Nationwide debut, her entire Nationwide schedule (probably 10-12 races), and where and when she will test after December 20. The unanswered questions, however, didn't dull the luster of Patrick's flamboyant foray into a realm where the cars aren't as fragile as they are in the open-wheel ranks.

"I think my determination and commitment are really going to be what makes this thing go well," said Patrick, who arrived at the press conference as the "GoDaddy Girl," wearing her familiar zippered GoDaddy outfit and black gladiator heels.

After the formal portion of the news conference, Patrick admitted she'll feel the pressure to perform in her new role as a stock car driver.

"I'm a competitive driver, and I always want to do well, and this will be absolutely no different," she said. "In fact, there's no reason to think it'll be any less (pressure). There's going to be a lot of people watching, and there's been speculation for a long time about it.

"I will approach this just like I do every other race that I go to, and I'll give it my all."

Patrick said she pays little attention to the naysayers who doubt her ability to make the transition from open-wheel cars to stock cars.

"I really don't think a lot about that kind of stuff," she said. "Everybody is entitled to their own opinion - that's fine with me. My job is to prove to all the people that are around me that I'm committed, that I want to do this, that I'm willing to put in the right amount of effort, and that's all I have to do."

Whether the Nationwide deal is a steppingstone to the Sprint Cup Series also remains to be seen.

"I think that's the natural thing to do, to see how it goes," said Patrick, who finished a career-best fifth in the IndyCar Series standings this year. "There's no plans right now to do anything beyond (doing) this partial schedule, but, obviously, we'll have to ask ourselves that question (about a move to Cup) if it goes well."

Parsons doesn't doubt the ability of his star spokesperson for a second.

"This is probably the fourth year that we've sponsored Danica Patrick," Parsons said. "We started a number of years ago, featuring her in our commercials. Over that time, I've gotten to know her, and the one thing I can tell you - when she goes into NASCAR, she's no wilting flower. That gal is going to trade a lot of paint…

"This suits her just fine."

JRM still must fill a half-season's sponsorship for its No. 88 Chevrolet, to be driven by Kelly Bires in 2010, and Kelley Earnhardt thinks signing Danica will help.

"Obviously, she elevates our program and elevates the sport," Kelley Earnhardt said. "It's going to have some different eyeballs on JR Motorsports, in a good way. Obviously, we're tied up with her on sponsorship, but it brings new light to JR Motorsports, so hopefully that will help us…

"It's very exciting. The branding and the stuff that we've done with Dale Jr. - to be where he is in the sport - it's equally exciting to bring her along and just have a new set of eyeballs watching and the female factor, with the young girls and the role model thing. I'm really excited about it."

Tickets for 2010 at Phoenix International Raceway can be purchased online at PhoenixRaceway.com or by calling 1-866-408-RACE (7223). The PIR Ticket Office is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 125 S. Avondale Blvd., just south of I-10 at Exit 131 in Avondale.

Related Topics

2010 SUBWAY Fresh Fit 500

Related PIR News

  • 2/04/16

    PHOENIX INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY HOSTS “PRIX VIEW” INAUGURAL INDYCAR TESTING SESSION

    Fans can watch as teams prepare for Phoenix Grand Prix with testing session on Feb. 27

  • 2/01/16

    PIR ANNOUNCES PROMOTION OF KRISTIE MAGGS TO SENIOR DIRECTOR OF CONSUMER MARKETING

    Phoenix International Raceway President Bryan R. Sperber announced today that Kristie Maggs has been promoted to Senior Director of Consumer Marketing and Partnership Activation. Since joining PIR in July 2007, Maggs has played an integral role in the marketing efforts of two annual NASCAR Sprint Cup weekends and the upcoming Verizon Indy Car Series – growing the track’s fan base through promotional opportunities with track partners and elevating the PIR brand.

  • 1/28/16

    PHOENIX INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY KICKS OFF INAUGURAL NASCAR WEST COAST MEDIA DAY

    Phoenix International Raceway participated in the inaugural NASCAR West Coast Media day at the Peterson Automotive Museum in downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday. The event, which highlights the second season of back-to-back races at Las Vegas, Phoenix and Fontana, featured NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers Aric Almirola, Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski. In addition to the upcoming 2016 season, the drivers as well as track presidents discussed the return of “NASCAR Goes West” including the Good Sam 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on Sunday, March 13.

  • 1/07/16

    NASCAR STAR KASEY KAHNE ATTENDS PHOENIX SUNS GAME

    NASCAR star Kasey Kahne, driver of the No. 5 Great Clips Chevy SS for Hendrick Motorsports, attended Wednesday’s Phoenix Suns home game versus the Charlotte Hornets at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Kahne was in the Phoenix area to promote the start of the 2016 NASCAR season, the Daytona 500, and the Good Sam 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, which is scheduled for Sunday, March 13.

  • 11/30/15

    PHOENIX INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY EXTENDS BLACK FRIDAY, CYBER MONDAY SALES THROUGH END OF WEEK

    For people looking for that perfect gift for the race fan in their life, Phoenix International Raceway has extended its Black Friday and Cyber Monday special offers through the end of the week.

Facebook

© 2016 Phoenix International Raceway

FacebookTwitterLinkedInDiggDeliciousNewsvineRedditStumbleTechnorati

ISC Track Sites