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2012 Cup plan begins with Daytona 500

Thu Nov 10, 2011 11:43 pm

Will also include Darlington, Bristol, Atlanta, Chicago, Dover, Texas and Phoenix.

Danica Patrick's long-awaited debut in the Sprint Cup Series will come in the 2012 season-opening Daytona 500, Patrick and Stewart-Haas Racing co-owner Tony Stewart confirmed Friday at Texas Motor Speedway.

Patrick is in Texas to race the first of the final three 2011 Nationwide Series races she'll contest before doing the full 2012 Nationwide Series for JR Motorsports.

Patrick will race a No. 10 Sprint Cup Chevrolet, bearing the number she first used in karting, during Daytona's Speedweeks, where she currently will need to qualify on time. Her schedule will also include events at Darlington, Bristol, Atlanta, Chicagoland, Dover, Texas and Patrick's home Phoenix event, the penultimate race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

"This announcement has been a long time coming, and it's nice to be able to unveil the car and reveal the schedule for next year, finally," Stewart said. "We took the whole schedule and took races that we thought would be really challenging for her and to pick tracks she needed to put emphasis on.

"We're keeping two dates open to see how the start of the season goes and make sure we can call an audible if we need to. If we see a place or Danica feels like there's a track that she struggled at, we have that flexibility to plug them in. But we will run 10 full races with her."

"The most weighted factor [in determining the schedule] was places that might be a challenge -- places that had unique characteristics, that would be good to get some extra laps at," Patrick said.
"At a place like Darlington, for example, where I'll run the Cup and Nationwide cars together, one absolutely will help the other. Tony [Eury Jr., Nationwide crew chief] has said sometimes the Cup guys like to do the Nationwide races to get more laps so they get more comfortable on the track.
"Sometimes guys like to do races at places they're good at, so they can just have fun -- like [Dale Earnhardt] Junior at Bristol, or something. But for me, it's going to be about laps."

Patrick understands that some tracks will be easier to tackle than others.
"Darlington's going to be an awful lot of fun," Patrick said, tongue obviously in cheek. "The expectation levels will be low, which is probably a good thing.

"To be honest, from my perspective, I did not want to start my year in a Cup car -- for the races I was going to do -- at someplace like Darlington. Everybody's going to be watching, especially at my first Cup race. And there's going to be more news about it, so I didn't want [Darlington] to be my first one.

"I wanted to start somewhere where I could have fun, and where I had a chance to do really well."
Patrick had a chance to win the July Nationwide Series race at Daytona, the first NASCAR stock car superspeedway race she competed in, until a competitor triggered an accident coming to the finish.
"There are other places where I'll go that will take a long time to learn," Patrick added to her Daytona reasoning. "So it was that, and it's just a good weekend to start, because it's good for Go Daddy and the other partners."

Patrick acknowledged that the more time she can get in stock cars is a good thing. Three-in-a-row to end the Nationwide season is good, but she's not sure about off-season testing for either division.
"It's great to have these three races at the end that's going to lead into the next year, because we're kind of getting ahead of the game for the start of the season next year, as far as implementing certain things and trying different things that we'll carry over to next year," Patrick said. "We want to do that to ensure we start off strong, because as Tony Jr., has said, the first 10 races are the whole championship.

"Conversations about [testing] the Cup car have been very limited. [Stewart-Haas] is in the middle of the Chase and it's just such a new relationship so that's something I need to get on because I want to get out there and I want to do well and the only way to do that is to test and get better."
A Cup test has been scheduled for Nov. 15 at Daytona and Stewart said his group would attempt to have a car for Patrick to participate with in addition to the regular Pre-Season Thunder testing at Daytona in January.

Patrick has lived in Scottsdale, Ariz., near Phoenix while competing in IndyCar -- which means she's not been near the Andretti Autosport shops in Indianapolis -- or JR Motorsports or Stewart-Haas in the Charlotte, N.C., area either. She won't change, even considering she'll have 43 stock car races on her docket next year.

"I go [to the shops] when I need to go and I'll go to make seats and get to be friends with everybody," Patrick said. "But let's face it; we're going to spend 33 weekends together in Nationwide and eight to 10 weekends in Cup together -- so we spend a lot of time together.

"I'm always available by phone and if they need me to fly to Charlotte that's exactly what I'll do. But I don't feel the need to set-up shop [near Charlotte] -- I don't get that many days off [smiling] so to be honest I probably wouldn't be at the shop that many days."

Stewart said that with Patrick's announcement, efforts to hire a crew chief for the program would be ratcheted-up, describing the relationship as a marriage where "there aren't a lot of people that you can plug into the positions."

Stewart also reiterated that his organization would continue trying to put sponsors in place to run the No. 10 car full-time next season and hasn't set a date where the organization wouldn't consider the additional funding.

Re: 2012 Cup plan begins with Daytona 500

Mon Nov 28, 2011 11:55 am

Iam new here as Iam a Danica follower from her Indycar career and now following her here to Nascar. glad to see she's hooked up with SHR but have some concerns.

Question insiders might know? -A statement in this article about her starting Cup with the Daytona 500 but she will have to qualify ON time??? Not to be negative right off, but Indycar champs Dario and Sam Hornish had lots of races where they could NOT qualify on time for lots of Cup races, so this is somewhat concerning if she cant qualify on time, as for all the fans wishing her well, there are those who hope she fails. Course the main thought is, IF she cant qualify on time for the races then she isnt good enough to be in the race, many have said and maybe true? I thought I read where SHR was going to have owners points where she wouldnt have to qualify on time --just wondering? Iam sure she could qualify at Daytona given her great qualifying this yr in NNS there, but not all the short tracks Tony wants her to get more experience with, as that has been her weakness in stock cars. guess we'll see?

Re: 2012 Cup plan begins with Daytona 500

Sun Dec 18, 2011 4:09 pm

She'll have Zippy to guide her along, plus whatever knowledge she can pick up from the folks at JR Motorsports, as well as Tony & Ryan.

Some people don't like her because she can be short or curt with people, especially the press. Wow, who does that sound like?

I'm disappointed that Mark Martin won't be in this ride, but glad to see Smoke giving Danica a shot. Looking forward to this season.

Re: 2012 Cup plan begins with Daytona 500

Sun Dec 18, 2011 4:29 pm

well for the Daytona 500, she will have to qualify on time, but the field is set differently. It is set through racing, then the last few cars revert back to time to get in. So her biggest concern will be to not get caught up in a wreck during the twin races. Tony & Ryan are both guarenteed a spot in the 500, so I guarentee you Danica will never be left out to dry. Tony will push her into a spot during the race where she makes it into the 500. if she gets wrecked out during the race then hopefully she had a good qualifying time to fall back on. The fact that they completely screwed up to COT for the 500 makes it a wildcard for everyone on who will be fast or not.

As for your other question. As of right now, I havent heard of SHR buying anyones points to get a guarenteed spot. Unless they get sponsorship to run the #10 car full time, she will be in the same situation where she has to qualify on time next year too.

Re: 2012 Cup plan begins with Daytona 500

Mon Dec 19, 2011 12:31 am

Thanks for the info. BTW one of the many articles about Zippy joining SHR actually said that they might give Danica Tonys points as he can get in on his Championship provision if they choose to do so? However like I said, watching her qualify in NNS at Daytona both times this yr, a 4th and 7th, if Zippy can set the car up so she can drive it, she should easily qualify on time? Talked to an insider friend (reporter) this weekend and I asked him if he heard anything, and he said several of her NNS crew want to go to Cup to at least help with the set up as they know her well and what she likes or dont like in the setup. Some want to crew for her also and make the advancement into Cup for the next yr, that is if she goes FT in 2013? I know it'll be up to this Zippy guy to make those decisions, but Danica would prefer a friendly face on her crew Iam sure? Some (naysayers) have even suggested Zippy may have his hands full with teaching Danica the Cup car, but others just say the car is similar and just has more power which she should love, more speed, at least on tracks like Daytona.

She needs to do well, as 2012 is like a trial/test run, as insider rumors say there are no solid contracts from Godaddy, just an option for 2013+ FT in Cup yet, despite the press suggesting so? Cant wait as heard they will be testing the Cup car mid Jan. 8-)

Re: 2012 Cup plan begins with Daytona 500

Fri Dec 30, 2011 11:45 am

I wish Danica, Zippy, Tony and pit crews (oops, Jr Too) all the best in 2012.. Hope they all "kick Butt" and win !!!!!
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