Danica Patrick leaves the stage during pre-race ceremonies prior to the NASCAR Nationwide Series WYPALL 200 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 12, 2011 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Get ready for Danicamania.
Danica Patrick is coming to the NASCAR Natonwide Series full-time in 2012 and a ten race schedule in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series as well. That means she will have ten opportunities to score at least one top ten in the Sprint Cup Series but the real question is: Will she be able to do it? She will have an experienced crew chief on the pit box and a champion team owner to mentor her as she learns the difference between the NASCAR Sprint Cup car and the Nationwide car.
Stewart-Haas Racing announced Patrick’s schedule on November 4, 2012. Here are the tracks she will be competing on:
Feb. 26: Daytona International Speedway
May 12: Darlington Raceway
Aug. 25: Bristol Motor Speedway
Sep. 2: Atlanta Motor Speedway
Sep. 16: Chicagoland Speedway
Sep. 30: Dover International Speedway
Nov. 4: Texas Motor Speedway
Nov. 11: Phoenix International Raceway
She will race at two more tracks that have yet to be determined. Zippy, as Greg Zipadelli is known as in the garage, is using the 2012 season as a way to get to know the 2005 IndyCar Rookie of the Year’s personality and to find the perfect crew chief for the inexperienced stock car driver.
Which track is Patrick most likely to score her first top ten as a NASCAR Sprint Cup driver? For some reason, she will not comment on which NASCAR sanctioned track is her favorite in the Nationwide series. Last season, Patrick scored her only top five in her 12 race schedule at Las Vegas Motorspeedway. As of now, SHR will not commit her to race the Cup car on the fast mile and a half track.
She also scored two top tens in the Nationwide Series. One top ten came at Chicagoland Speedway and the other came at Daytona International Speedway in July. Both tracks are on the schedule and if she finishes well in the Daytona 500, it is likely to assume she will return to the track in July for the Coca Zero 400.
November could be when she gets her first top in the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Why so late? By November, she will have acclimated to the feel of the Sprint Cup car and will be familiar with the Texas mile and a half track when she rolls onto the track for the November 4th race.
But then again, I wouldn’t be surprised if she knocks down her first top ten at the Daytona 500. Remember Trevor Bayne won the event last year as a young rookie who had never raced the track in a Cup car and she already has the respect of half the Cup garage.
Where do you think Danica Patrick will get her first top ten? Let us know!