Danica Patrick to announce plans Thursday

Danica Patrick will hold a news conference Thursday and is

expected to announce her 2012 move to NASCAR.

The Associated Press reported earlier this month that Patrick

was finalizing a deal to drive fulltime for JR Motorsports in the

second-tier Nationwide Series. She was also working on a limited

schedule of elite Sprint Cup Series races for Stewart-Haas

Racing.

Patrick and GoDaddy.com chairman Bob Parsons will be at

Thursday’s announcement at company headquarters in Scottsdale,

Ariz. An advisory said Patrick will announce her 2012 plans while

”putting the rumors to rest with the `real story in her own

words.”’

She has refused each week to discuss her plans as speculation

has mounted she’s leaving the IndyCar Series.

Patrick has driven 20 Nationwide races for JR Motorsports over

the last two seasons and has five more scheduled this year.

She finished third in the 2009 Indy 500, the highest finish for

a woman in open-wheel’s most prestigious race. She has one career

victory in IndyCar and currently is ranked 12th in the series

standings. In 110 career starts, she has three poles and 20

top-5s.

Although she’s winless in the Nationwide series, she flirted

with victory last month at Daytona, leading 13 laps before the

last-lap chaos dropped her to a 10th-place finish.

”She’s way ahead of the curve,” Dale Earnhardt Jr., one of the

owners of JR Motorsports, has said. ”We’ve had the opportunity to

put several drivers in that car, and her performance is right on

par with all those drivers. We started out struggling and she had a

steep, steep climb to go and she’s really come a long way. I’m

excited about what the potential is with her going forward.”

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