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Danica Patrick’s Daytona Debut Days Away

Danica Patrick’s Daytona Debut Days Away

NASCAR’s annual media day on Thursday was all about Danica Patrick, who will make her much-anticipated Sprint Cup Series debut at the Daytona 500 on February 26th. Patrick will be driving the green and black, No. 10 Go Daddy Chevy for Stewart-Haas Racing.

NASCAR’s annual media day on Thursday was all about Danica Patrick, who will make her much-anticipated Sprint Cup Series debut at the Daytona 500 on February 26th. Patrick will be driving the green and black, No. 10 Go Daddy Chevy for Stewart-Haas Racing.

Daytona will be the first of her, albeit, abbreviated 10 Sprint cup races this year. Patrick also plans to split her time between the Nationwide Series (No. 2 motor sport series in the US) and her duties as Go Daddy spokeswoman.

This season Patrick is expected to race a full Nationwide schedule consisting of 33 races, but next year, she plans to make the move full time to the Sprint Cup Series, which races 38 weekends a year and is the No. 1 motor sport series in the country. This is a large increase in workload for her, considering her IndyCar schedule was, on average, a 16-18 race season.

"I love driving stock cars... and I'm absolutely thrilled to be devoting this season to NASCAR," Danica told Fox Sports. "Daytona has been a dream of mine for a while, and I'm looking forward to getting down to the driving. This is going to be fun!"

As expected, Danica’s debut on the NASCAR circuit is drawing a lot of fanfare and support, there being no dispute that she is already one of the most recognizable athletes in the world. According to CNBC, the Nielsen N-Score data shows Patrick among the top 5 most recognizable NASCAR drivers, she currently ranks in the top 10 in merchandise sales for 2012, and she has appeared in a record 10 Super Bowl commercials for Go Daddy, more commercial appearances than any other celebrity.

Fans of the sport are hoping to see Danica place in the top 10 at Daytona. The most recent female drivers at the Daytona 500 have never finished higher than 11th place. These drivers included Janet Guthrie (1977, 12th/1980, 11th) and Shawna Robinson (2002, 24th).

Danica already holds the record as the only woman to win an IndyCar race (Indy Japan 300, 2008) and highest finish by a woman at the Indianapolis 500 (3rd place).

Patrick’s remaining 2012 Sprint Cup schedule includes; May 12th at Darlington, South Carolina, August 25th at Bristol Motor Speedway, September 2nd at Atlanta Motor Speedway, September 16th at Chicagoland Speedway, September 30that Dover International Speedway, November 4th at Texas Motor Speedway, and November 11th in Phoenix.

The 54th annual Daytona 500 will air on Fox on February 26th beginning at 12:00pm EST.

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Leslie Dobbins