January 28, 2010
The wait is over! A dozen lucky tracks will be the site of Danicamania this year, and Danica fans in Vegas, California, Miami and other locales can start officially making their race plans.
Danica Patrick and JR Motorsports have announced Danica's 2010 Nationwide schedule, and it basically goes like this: Florida, Cali, Vegas, loooong time off, then most of the rest of the slate.
Still up in the air is whether Patrick will race in the Feb. 13 season opener at Daytona. She'll be racing in an ARCA event on Feb. 6, and based on her performance in that race, she may be slotted for the seat in the No. 7 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet. (The car's already entered; it's just a matter of whether Danica will be driving it.) Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be running the 88 in the Nationwide race at Daytona, and after that, Kelly Bires will slide into the seat of that car; Bires is available to run the 7 if Patrick isn't deemed ready.
After Daytona, Patrick will race in California at the Auto Club Speedway on Feb. 20 and in Las Vegas on Feb. 27. She will then take a four-month break from NASCAR -- she does have a day job, you know -- and will return to the Nationwide series in late June at New Hampshire.
Here's how the rest of her schedule shakes out: Chicagoland Speedway (July 9), Michigan International Speedway (Aug. 14), Dover International Speedway (Sept. 25), Auto Club Speedway (Oct. 9), Charlotte Motor Speedway (Oct. 15), Gateway International Raceway (Oct. 23), Texas Motor Speedway (Nov. 6), Phoenix International Raceway (Nov. 13) and Homestead-Miami Speedway (Nov. 20). She'll be missing out on racing at Bristol, Talladega, Atlanta and Richmond, among other notable tracks. This schedule -- heavy on the 1.5-mile cookie cutters -- should give her a chance to get comfortable at some of NASCAR's more straightforward, so to speak, tracks.
Already, tracks are capitalizing on Danica's presence; emails from the tracks where she'll be visiting are already showing up promising special Danica deals. She will bring in fans, and that's not a bad way to start.
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