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IndyCar Darling Danica Patrick to Make the Full-Time Switch to Nascar Series D

IndyCar Darling Danica Patrick to Make the Full-Time Switch to Nascar Series D

Danica Patrick announced during a webcast from the GoDaddy headquarters in Scottsdale, AZ on Thursday that she will make the switch from the IndyCar series and will compete solely in the Nascar circuit during the 2012 season. With her announcement, Patrick, 29, ended months of speculation surrounding her departure from the sport that made her the highest paid, and most well known driver in the IndyCar circuit. Racing analysts are hoping that Danica will make a similar impact on Nascar, which has seen a decline in both support and TV ratings over the last few seasons.

Danica Patrick announced during a webcast from the GoDaddy headquarters in Scottsdale, AZ on Thursday that she will make the switch from the IndyCar series and will compete solely in the Nascar circuit during the 2012 season.

With her announcement, Patrick, 29, ended months of speculation surrounding her departure from the sport that made her the highest paid, and most well known driver in the IndyCar circuit.  Racing analysts are hoping that Danica will make a similar impact on Nascar, which has seen a decline in both support and TV ratings over the last few seasons. 

Patrick #7 will be racing in a green Chevrolet Impala Nationwide car for JR Motorsports, owned and operated by racing legend Dale Earnhardt Jr.   

ESPN analyst Darren Rovell told the NY Times that he estimates that Patrick could bring in as much as $40 million in sponsorship money, largely coming from Patrick’s main backer, Godaddy.com.

During the 2011 season, Patrick has been busy by racing a split schedule, competing in IndyCar events, as well as making appearances in the Nationwide circuit.  Her best finish so far this season was 4th place in March. 

Although she’ll be competing in the Nationwide series in 2012, she has her eyes set on the Sprint Cup series and Stewart-Haas Racing in 2013. 

"We can finally put the rumors to rest, I am going full-time NASCAR with Go Daddy next year," Patrick said during the brief news conference. "I am going to race a full Nationwide schedule and a limited Sprint Cup schedule next season. The time is now. The opportunity is now."

Patrick sped to the top of racing headlines in 2008 when she became the first woman to win an IndyCar race, taking the checkered flag at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan.   Patrick was also the first woman ever to lead the Indy 500, and was named the Rookie of the Year in both the 2005 Indianapolis 500 and the 2005 IndyCar Series season

Interestingly enough, Patrick hasn’t won a race since 2008.  Currently, she is ranked 12th in the standings, with seven top 10 finishes this season.

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Leslie Dobbins