Danica Patrick may switch to NASCAR -- and still race in Indy 500
Danica Patrick's days as an IndyCar driver may not be coming to a complete end after all. Even if she becomes a full-time NASCAR driver as expected, she may still take part in the biggest IndyCar race of them all.
Patrick reportedly is in the final stages of a deal to run a full-time Nationwide Series schedule as a part of JR Motorsports as well as compete in limited Sprint Cup Series races for the team owned by Tony Stewart. Those talks include a plan to allow her to continue racing in the Indianapolis 500, the Associated Press reported, citing an unnamed source.
JR Motorsports co-owner Kelley Earnhardt has said it would be tough for Patrick to compete for a Nationwide championship if she runs in the Indianapolis 500, which requires drivers to spend much of May at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. NASCAR had three Nationwide races during that span this year.
Patrick, who finished third at the Indianapolis 500 in 2009, has one career IndyCar victory and is ranked 11th in the series standings. She is winless in 19 career Nationwide races, but JR Motorsports co-owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. says she's "way ahead of the curve" as a NASCAR driver.
"I would like for her to run full time, and I'm sure she is considering that, and I think she would enjoy it,” Earnhardt said at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "I feel confident that she's content where she is and happy with what we're doing. I think things are looking positive for us to put something together."
Stewart has also expressed interest in working with Patrick in the Sprint Cup Series.
"Anybody that's got a Cup team that would have the availability would jump at the chance to do something with her," Stewart said in May. "You would be crazy not to entertain an offer like that and an opportunity for her to drive a race car for you."
-- Chuck Schilken
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Photo: Danica Patrick. Credit: Nick Laham / Getty Images