Patrick to make NASCAR debut at California

BY foxsports • December 17, 2009

Danica Patrick will ease her way into NASCAR by skipping the Nationwide Series opener at Daytona International Speedway in favor of a less-stressful debut one week later at California.

The IndyCar star is still working on piecing together a 13-race schedule for JR Motorsports in NASCAR's second-tier series, but announced Thursday she's marked the Feb. 20 race at Auto Club Speedway for her debut.

JR Motorsports also will field a car for Patrick in the Feb. 27 race at Las Vegas.

Although Patrick will make her stock-car debut in the Feb. 6 ARCA opener at Daytona, the decision was made not to attempt the Nationwide race. The opener is usually stacked with NASCAR's top talent, and Sprint Cup drivers have won nine of the last 10 Nationwide races at Daytona. The lone exception? Martin Truex Jr., who won in 2005 in JR Motorsports car.

"The race is basically a Cup race, some 30 odd drivers in Cup run in it," she said. "So, is that the right time for me to start or not? You only get one grand opening, so I've heard. We want it to be the right opportunity."

Patrick made her first appearance with new boss Dale Earnhardt Jr. since announcing a two-year contract last week to try NASCAR for JR Motorsports, the team owned in combination by Rick Hendrick, Earnhardt, his sister, Kelley, and their cousin, Tony Eury Jr.

Sitting on a stage at JR Motorsports flanked by her new team, she fielded questions from reporters before it was opened up to two preselected fans in attendance, as well as one question submitted through Facebook.

One of the fans asked Patrick who will win first in 2010: Earnhardt, JRM driver Kelly Bires or Patrick?

"It's probably not going to be me," she said, joking.


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