Danica Patrick is coming to NASCAR. It looks like the long rumored switch for the most famous female racing star to NASCAR is actually going to happen. Sources, who want to stay anonymous because the deal has yet to be finalized, are telling the AP that Danica will switch from open wheel Indy cars to closed wheel cars and the JR motorsports Nationwide Series team (owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr.). It looks like Danica will run a full Nationwide series schedule in 2012, and run selected NASCAR Sprint Cup series events in a car owned by Tony Stewart. These sources also say even though she will be a NASCAR racer there is an opportunity for her to race in next year’s Indy 500.
Danica is likely making this move for a number of reasons. First is there is more money in NASCAR. It is a far more watched sport in America, the largest TV market in the world, and that means she can expose many more people to her sponsors and her own personal brand. NASCAR runs more events even in the Nationwide series (which is like Triple A ball for the NASCAR impaired out there) than the Izod Indy Car series runs, and of course the NASCAR Sprint Cup series is the largest, and most viewed, motor sports series in North America. It looks like Tony Stewart will run a third car, he owns his car and the #39 of Ryan Newman under the Stewart-Haas banner, and we have to wonder if that is not a ride being created for Danica’s eventual shift to full time Sprint Cup racing.
Danica has 19 Nationwide series starts under her belt right now, and in that time has run ok. She has just one top five finish, and three top ten finishes. She has run up front at times, but all of that will change when she makes the jump fulltime.