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Danica Patrick plans to make NASCAR debut at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana [Updated]

December 17, 2009 | 10:13 am

Danica Patrick said today she plans to make her NASCAR debut Feb. 20 at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana. [Updated 2:02 p.m.: Patrick indicated that while she might make her NASCAR debut at the Auto Club Speedway, it was still undecided whether she would drive in the Feb. 13 season opener at Daytona International Speedway. For the latest information on her NASCAR plans, click here.]

Danica The popular IndyCar driver recently announced plans to try her hand at stock-car racing on a limited basis in 2010, driving in NASCAR's second-tier Nationwide Series in a Chevrolet prepared by JR Motorsports, a team whose owners are led by Dale Earnhardt Jr., NASCAR's most popular driver.

The Nationwide season opener is Feb. 13 at Daytona International Speedway. But in a news conference today with Earnhardt in Mooresville, N.C., Patrick said she would skip that race and instead start in the Stater Bros. 300 in Fontana.

JR Motorsports officials said they also would field a Nationwide car for Patrick at the next race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Feb. 27.

Patrick will, however, first get her feet wet at Daytona on Feb. 6 by driving in the lower-level ARCA series opener. She is scheduled to test an ARCA car at the famed Daytona Beach, Fla., track on Friday.

As a rookie in the Izod IndyCar Series, Patrick raced at Auto Club Speedway in 2005, where she started fourth and finished 18th after an accident. The series no longer races at the sprawling two-mile oval.

And not long after Patrick's news conference, the speedway announced that general-admission tickets to the Feb. 20 race would start at $30.

-- Jim Peltz

Photo: Danica Patrick at a news conference Dec. 8 in Phoenix announcing her plans to drive in NASCAR's Nationwide Series next season. Credit: Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press