Patrick committs to 4 Nationwide races in 2011

JR Motorsports locked in Danica Patrick for the first four

Nationwide Series races of 2011, and the rest of her schedule will

depend on her IndyCar commitments.

Team co-owner Kelley Earnhardt said Friday that Patrick will run

at Daytona, Phoenix, Las Vegas and Bristol next season. It will be

her first trip to Bristol’s .533-mile bullring.

”That will be kind of neat for her to get to experience what

NASCAR is all about and that’s basically going around Bristol,”

said crew chief Tony Eury Jr.

Patrick will take a break from NASCAR after Bristol to

concentrate on the IndyCar schedule through the Indianapolis 500 in

May. She’ll then resume Nationwide racing that will be coordinated

with her IndyCar commitments.

Earnhardt said Patrick can run up to 14 races in the No. 7

Chevrolet, but the car will run the full season. Dale Earnhardt Jr.

is expected to run four races in the car.

”I know we’re all anxious to get the whole schedule put in

place, but I’m extremely excited to be able to confirm our

participation in the first four races,” Patrick said. ”We’ll have

four extremely challenging and unique races to start our 2011

season, and I’m anxious to return to a lot of those tracks with at

least a little bit of familiarity.”

Patrick said she knows at some point next season she’ll have to

make a decision about her commitment to NASCAR. The race Friday

night at Charlotte Motor Speedway was the ninth of 13 scheduled

Nationwide races this season.

She ended the IndyCar season two weeks ago, finishing 10th in

the final standings.

”We haven’t made all of those decisions, 2012 is a little up in

the air and it depends on the opportunities, where I could run,

what Kelley is doing, what’s happening at JR Motorsports, what’s

happening on the sponsorship side,” Patrick said. ”If something

doesn’t come together, I’d run IndyCar. There’s a lot of things up

in the air right now. We’ll see where my heart goes and where the

opportunities are.”