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Category: Danica Patrick

Danica Patrick, now in NASCAR, will skip Indianapolis 500

Danica Patrick will not race in the Indianapolis 500.
Danica Patrick said Monday she will not race in the Indianapolis 500 this year as she focuses on her shift to NASCAR stock-car racing.

The former IndyCar driver said she would race that day, May 27, in NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, one of 10 races she plans in NASCAR's premier Sprint up Series this year driving for Stewart-Haas Racing.

She also is driving a full schedule in NASCAR's second-level Nationwide Series for JR Motorsports, a team co-owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Patrick shot to fame when she nearly won the 2005 Indy 500 as a rookie. Given her love of the Memorial Day weekend classic, there was speculation she might enter the race despite her move to NASCAR.

But she told reporters at NASCAR's media tour in the Charlotte area that "I'm not going to do the Indy 500" this year although she added that "I hope to do it in the future."

Patrick also did not rule out driving this year in the Brickyard 400, the NASCAR race held each summer at  Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

--Jim Peltz

Photo: Danica Patrick signs a fan's shirt during the NASCAR Hall of Fame induction festivities Saturday in Charlotte, N.C. Credit: Bob Leverone/Associated Press

For NASCAR's Kurt Busch, a dearth of options

Kurt

Having split with Penske Racing, NASCAR driver Kurt Busch says he's searching for a way to "put the fun back into racing for me," seeing a sports psychologist and trying to "grow as a person and be a better driver."

But if Busch plans to compete again next year in the Sprint Cup Series, the former Cup champion also needs to find fast race cars, and that could be a challenge.

Among the Cup series' premier teams, they either don't appear to have room for another driver or would be unlikely to seek Busch's services.

Hendrick Motorsports already has four drivers, the NASCAR maximum. Roush Fenway Racing, where Busch left on sour terms before joining Penske in 2006, and Richard Childress Racing are cutting back to three cars from four next year and have their drivers set.

Joe Gibbs Racing? That's home to Busch's younger brother Kyle, who's already given Gibbs and its sponsors all the controversy they need, thank you.

Continue reading »

IndyCar Series removes controversial race steward

The Izod IndyCar Series shuffled top management Wednesday, including removing controversial Brian Barnhart as director of race operations.

In announcing the changes, IndyCar Chief Executive Randy Bernard said the series was reviewing candidates to replace Barnhart as race director but that Barnhart would remain at IndyCar as president of operations. He previously held both positions.

Bernard also said Terry Angstadt resigned as IndyCar's commercial division president and was succeeded by Marc Koretzky. The position oversees sales, business planning, marketing and public relations.

Barnhart repeatedly came under fire by some drivers, crew chiefs and team owners this season for his oversight of IndyCar's races. Critics complained he was inconsistent in levying penalties for drivers' improper moves on the track and showed poor judgment in how some races were restarted after caution periods.

Perhaps the most glaring example was the Aug. 14 race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, when the race was restarted while the track was still wet from rain.

A multi-car accident immediately ensued, collecting championship contender Will Power of Penske Racing and Danica Patrick, among others. As a furious Power walked back to the garage, he was caught on camera showing his displeasure with Barnhart and others in race control:

 

Koretzky previously had been IndyCar's director of corporate business development. Barnhart has been with IndyCar and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway since 1994.

-- Jim Peltz

 

 

Former IndyCar champ Sam Hornish Jr. wins his first Nationwide race

Sam Hornish Jr., a former IndyCar racing champion who switched to stock car racing four years ago, won his first NASCAR Nationwide Series race Saturday at Phoenix International Raceway.

HornishHis teammate Brad Keselowski finished second, giving their Penske Racing team a 1-2 sweep.

Hornish was a three-time IndyCar champion and Indianapolis 500 winner who struggled after he switched to NASCAR, first in its premier Sprint Cup Series and then in its second-level Nationwide Series.

But Hornish qualified fifth in the Wypall 200 on Saturday, took the lead with about 60 laps remaining and then repeatedly held the lead on several restarts following accidents behind him.

"I cant hardly believe it," Hornish said. "I’m so happy about it. I'm glad I stuck it out [in stock cars]."

Carl Edwards finished third, Joey Logano fourth and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. fifth.

Stenhouse holds a 41-point lead in the Nationwide championship standings over Elliott Sadler, who finished 27th after being collected in an accident.

--Jim Peltz in Avondale, Ariz.

Photo: Sam Hornish Jr. celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series race Saturday at Phoenix International Raceway. Credit: Geoff Burke/Getty Images

Danica Patrick in 8-car crash in NASCAR Nationwide’s opening lap

Danica Patrick was among eight drivers whose cars were involved in a crash on the opening lap of the NASCAR Nationwide Series race Saturday.

Danica2Patrick's No. 7 Chevrolet slammed hard into the Turn 3 wall when the wreck occurred in the Wypall 200 at Phoenix International Raceway. Other drivers collected in the crash included Brian Scott and Reed Sorenson.

Despite heavy damage to the back of her car, Patrick was able to reach the pits for repairs and she was running 34th, two laps behind the leaders, when racing resumed. She had started the race 25th.

Aric Almirola was the early leader in the 200-lap race, followed by Clint Bowyer, Justin Allgaier and Carl Edwards.

There were concerns about the Phoenix track leading into the weekend because the one-mile oval recently was repaved, and drivers said the new surface was exceptionally slick and that passing would be difficult.

— Jim Peltz in Avondale, Ariz.

Photo: Danica Patrick shortly before the NASCAR Nationwide Series race Saturday at Phoenix International Raceway. Credit: Jennifer Hilderbrand / US Presswire

Danica Patrick to make NASCAR Sprint Cup debut at Daytona 500

Danica Patrick plans to make her debut in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series at the Daytona 500
Danica Patrick plans to make her debut in NASCAR's premier Sprint Cup Series at the sport's crown-jewel race, the Daytona 500, next Feb. 26 and is eyeing a possible full-time Cup ride in 2013.

Patrick, 29,will drive the No. 10 Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing, the team co-owned by two-time Cup champion Tony Stewart.

Patrick just finished her full-time career in the Izod IndyCar Series, in which she won one race in seven years, to drive full-time in NASCAR stock-car racing.

In an announcement at Texas Motor Speedway, site of the next Cup race Sunday, Stewart-Haas and Patrick said she would drive a total of 10 Cup races next year while also competing all season in NASCAR's second-tier Nationwide Series.

Besides Daytona, Patrick's Cup schedule includes Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, Atlanta Motor Speedway, Chicagoland Speedway, Dover (Del.) International Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway.

Her two other Cup appearances will be determined later.

"Our goal with Danica's schedule is to try and maximize her 10 races with us so that she's as prepared as she can possibly be for a full-time Sprint Cup schedule in 2013," Stewart said in a statement.

Patrick, who is driving in this Saturday's Nationwide race at Texas, also said her helmet and race car would carry paint schemes honoring two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon, who was killed last month in an IndyCar race in Las Vegas.

-- Jim Peltz

Photo: Danica Patrick and team co-owner Tony Stewart unveil Patrick's No. 10 Chevrolet for the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series during an event at Texas Motor Speedway on Friday. Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images

Dan Wheldon crash: Two injured drivers treated and released

Wheldon1

This post has been updated. See below for details.

Two other IndyCar drivers involved in the 15-car wreck that killed British driver Dan Wheldon at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday were treated for minor injuries, their teams said.

Will Power of Penske Racing, who finished second in the title standings behind champion Dario Franchitti, complained of pain in his upper back after his car went airborne in the crash.

But "there was no evidence of significant injuries so he has been released" from University Medical Center in Las Vegas, Penske Racing said.

Another driver, Pippa Mann of the Rahal Letterman Lanigan team, had surgery Sunday night at the same hospital to treat a severely burned pinkie finger on her right hand. She was being released Monday morning, her team said.

[Updated, 12:20 p.m. Oct. 17: A third driver, J.R. Hildebrand, suffered a “severely bruised sternum” in the accident and was held overnight at University Medical Center but was released Monday, his team, Panther Racing, said.]

The Izod IndyCar Series, meanwhile, announced that it canceled its championship banquet scheduled for Monday night at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas.

The series also said information on a public memorial for Wheldon will be released at a later date.

RELATED:

Graphic: Comparing tracks at Las Vegas and Indianapolis Motor Speedways

-- Jim Peltz

Photo: Drew Boyd places a checkered flag at a gate of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as part of a memorial for two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon. Credit: Scott Olson / Getty Images

Will Power gets another shot at IndyCar title

For Will Power, it's a chance for redemption.

Last year, the Australian driver had a sizable 59-point lead in the Izod IndyCar Series championship battle with four races left, only to blow the advantage and see Dario Franchitti win his second consecutive IndyCar title and third overall.

Power At the time, Power was more skilled on curvy road and street courses than on oval tracks, and all four of those final races were on ovals.

Now, Power again has the lead with only two races left, but it's a much narrower 11 points over the second-place Franchitti, who drives for the Target Chip Ganassi Racing team.

But Power, who drives for Team Penske, is confident because he's had another year of navigating oval speedways, which included his first oval win at Texas Motor Speedway in June. Power, 30, has six wins overall this season.

The series' last two races are Sunday at Kentucky Speedway and Oct. 16 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, both 1.5-mile oval tracks.

"I really didn't have the experience" on ovals a year ago, Power said in a telephone interview. This year, "I'm just going to focus on the job and the things I can control," he said.

And if the championship slips away again? "All we can say is that we did everything we could do to win it, that's all we can do," he said.

Continue reading »

NASCAR's Chase leads weekend's motor racing

A bit of controversy hangs over the start of NASCAR’s Chase for the Cup, the 10-race championship playoff that opens Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill.

Jimmie Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick, with four wins apiece in the Sprint Cup Series so far this season, lead the 12 drivers in the Chase with 2,012 points each. Four-time champion Jeff Gordon follows with 2,009.

Harvick won last week’s race in Richmond, Va., after his Richard Childress Racing teammate Paul Menard spun out late in the race to bring out a caution flag. Harvick then beat Gordon off pit road and held off Gordon for the victory.

Gordon later said the timing of Menard’s spinout was “a little fishy,” and NASCAR President Mike Helton said the sanctioning body would look into it.

But team owner Richard Childress said in a statement Friday “there were no team orders” given to Menard to spin to help Harvick's cause and that Menard “wouldn’t have spun out on purpose even if he had been asked.”

Jimmie Johnson, aiming for a record sixth consecutive title, also is back in the Chase along with 2004 champion Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch’s older brother.

Johnson and Kurt Busch have had a running feud in recent weeks, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. -- another Chase contender and teammate of Johnson's at Hendrick Motorsports-- was asked Friday if he was curious about how the Johnson-Busch spat might play out this weekend.

“It bores the [expletive] out of me, to be honest,” Earnhardt said. “I’ve got my own damn problems to worry about.”

The Izod IndyCar Series, meanwhile, is racing Sunday for the final time at the Twin Ring Motegi track in Japan, where Danica Patrick won her only IndyCar event in 2008. Patrick is moving to NASCAR stock-car racing next year.

With three races left in the season, the IndyCar championship is coming down to a battle between current point leader Dario Franchitti, who is shooting for his third consecutive championship and fourth overall, and Team Penske’s Will Power, who is only five points behind Franchitti and seeking his first title.

In drag racing, the six-race title playoff in the National Hot Rod Assn.’s Full Throttle Series opens this weekend with the O’Reilly Auto Parts Nationals in Charlotte, N.C.

Del Worsham currently leads the NHRA’s top-fuel class by 30 points over Antron Brown, and Mike Neff leads the funny car division by 30 points over Jack Beckman. The series finale is Nov. 10-13 at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona.

And on Saturday night, late-model stock cars make their last appearance of the season as part of a multi-race lineup at the half-mile Toyota Speedway at Irwindale. Brandon Davis of Huntington Beach currently leads the point standings in that series.

The Formula One series is off this weekend ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix on Sept. 25.

--Jim Peltz

Photo: NASCAR drivers Jimmie Johnson, left, and Jeff Gordon take in the sights of Chicago ahead of Sunday's Sprint Cup Series race at Chicagoland Speedway that opens NASCAR's Chase title playoff. Credit: David Banks/Getty Images

 

Danica Patrick to drive full-time for NASCAR in 2012

Danica Patrick, one of racing’s most popular drivers, said Thursday that she will leave IndyCar to drive full time for NASCAR in 2012.

"Very exciting. I'm just excited to finally say it," Patrick said.

Patrick, 29, will race a full schedule on NASCAR’s second-tier Nationwide circuit for JR Motorsports, owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr., and will race in about 10 Sprint Cup races for Tony Stewart’s Stewart-Haas Racing.

Patrick became a household name in 2005 when she was the first woman to lead in laps at the Indianapolis 500, before finishing fourth. She also was the first woman to win a race on the IndyCar circuit, winning in Japan in 2008.

Patrick has been a magnet for advertisers and sponsors ever since and is expected to draw plenty of attention to NASCAR.

But her results have been mixed on the track.

This season she is 12th in the IndyCar driver points standings. Patrick has also driven part-time on the Nationwide series and has one top five finish in seven races.

Patrick hasn’t decided which Sprint Cup races she'll drive in next year, and she didn’t rule out driving in the Indy 500 next season.

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-- Barry Stavro

Danica Patrick may switch to NASCAR -- and still race in Indy 500

Photo: Danica Patrick. Credit: Nick Laham / Getty Images 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."

RELATED:

Photos: Danica Patrick through the years

NASCAR Chase for the Cup playoff could include surprising names

-- Chuck Schilken

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo: Danica Patrick. Credit: Nick Laham / Getty Images

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