After months of back-and-forth speculation, Danica Patrick confirmed yesterday that she will make her NASCAR debut in the 2010 Nationwide Series.
Patrick, already part of the Andretti Autosport IndyCar team, will pilot the #7 Chevrolet Impala stock car for JR Motorsports in at least 12 races throughout the 2010 Nationwide season. Patrick will largely be absent from the series between February and June, when she’ll tend to her duties in the IndyCar series.
“Like I’ve said before, we just want to be smart and calculative about this process,” said Patrick. “The tracks we’ve selected not only complement the IndyCar schedule, but will give me quality seat time at a variety of facilities.”
The only question surrounding Patrick’s schedule lies with the season opener at Daytona International Speedway. While her car is approved and registered for the race, team officials have some reserve about sending Patrick — a newbie to the sport of stock car racing — into what is regarded as the season’s most competitive event.
“We want to give Danica the best chance to compete at Daytona,” said Kelley Earnhardt, JR Motorsport co-owner and general manager, “and that includes making sure she is 100 percent comfortable in that driver’s seat.”
The decision will likely come quickly — Patrick is scheduled to drive the #7 car in an ARCA race at Daytona on February 6, a week ahead of the Nationwide season opener on February 13.