Danica Patrick will indeed make her NASCAR debut in this weekend DRIVE4COPD 300 Nationwide Series race at Daytona International Speedway. JR Motorsports general manager Kelley Earnhardt made the announcement Monday morning.
The team said Patrick, Earnhardt and other team officials meet Sunday after Patrick finished sixth in the ARCA race at Daytona – her stock-car debut. The decision for Patrick to compete in the Daytona Nationwide Series event is supported by sponsor GoDaddy.com and JRM co-owners Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Eury Jr., and Rick Hendrick, a press release said.
"To be the one driving that Go Daddy car at Daytona means a lot to me," Patrick said. "Racing in the Nationwide Series race was my goal during this entire two-month preparation process, but we wanted to make sure it was the right thing to do. The ARCA race was a blast, and I’m not ready for my first Daytona Speedweeks to end just yet. I want more racing."
Patrick will drive the No. 7 Chevrolet at Daytona and will be locked in the race based on JRM’s acquisition of points from CJM Racing’s No. 11 team, which finished 15th in the 2009 Nationwide owners standings.
Patrick will have Earnhardt Jr. as a teammate, as Dale Jr. will drive the No. 88 Chevrolet. Full-time driver Kelly Bires will not race in the season-opener.
Patrick will also race at Auto Club Speedway on Feb. 20 at and Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Feb. 27.
"I think Danica proved to everyone that she can compete in stock cars at a high level, and right now seat time is extremely important," Kelley Earnhardt said. "She has worked extremely hard during the past two months for this opportunity. Her dedication and work ethic is infectious."