Kansas to round out Danica Patrick’s NASCAR schedule
We now know the 10th and final race on the NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule for Danica Patrick: Kansas Speedway will fill the final slot in her 2012 schedule. That means she will race in seven of the final 13 events of the year.
The 1.5-mile track was chosen in part because there will be an additional day of practice before the Oct. 21 Hollywood Casino 400 race to prepare for the new surface that is being installed.
“With the testing rules the way they are, we can’t test with her at tracks where NASCAR’s top three series compete,” said Greg Zipadelli, the competition director at Stewart-Haas Racing and Patrick’s race strategist in Cup. “That extra day of testing will be huge for her.”
Patrick, who is competing fulltime in the Nationwide Series, is expected to drive fulltime in Cup for SHR next year. Patrick is no stranger to Kansas Speedway. She scored her first career IZOD IndyCar Series pole in July 2005 and qualified third or better in three of her six starts at Kansas. She also had three top-10 finishes at Kansas in IndyCar Series competition. Her lone NASCAR Nationwide Series start at Kansas came in October 2011 when she started 15th and finished 15th.
She will skip the July 29 Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the track where she made a name for herself in the IndyCar Series. When Patrick announced last year that she would run 10 Cup races in addition to her full-time Nationwide Series schedule this year, it was expected that one of those races would be at Indy, where her third-place finish in the 2009 Indianapolis 500 is the highest finish ever for a female in that event and which always has been one of her best tracks.
Patrick made her Cup debut in the 2012 Daytona 500 and also has run the Cup races at Darlington and Charlotte. Left on her schedule are races at Bristol in August; Atlanta, Chicagoland and Dover in September; Kansas in October; and Texas and Phoenix in November. All of those races had been announced last year as part of her 2012 Cup schedule.