Monday Notebook: Danica Patrick still has her eye on NASCAR Nationwide Series
By: By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service, Superior Telegram
CONCORD, N.C. -- Yes, Danica Patrick will run her first full season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series this year.
No, Patrick won't compete in the Indianapolis 500 in 2013, as she reiterated for the umpteenth time during Monday's Stewart-Haas Racing stop on the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Patrick, however, does have her sights set on a limited schedule in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, after finishing 10th in the final standings in her first full-time NASCAR competition last year.
Why? Because, quite simply, Patrick believes the double-duty weekends help her. Last year Patrick ran 10 Cup races in addition to her Nationwide schedule.
"Nothing's set in stone yet -- we are working it, though, for sure," said Patrick, who has talked to Turner Scott Motorsports, among others, about Nationwide Series opportunities. "I would love to do 10 Nationwide races. It think that would be our perfect plan, mostly to improve on my Cup experience and be able to learn from some of those races, some of them to have an opportunity to go out and win a race, and others just to get track experience.
"We're working on it. I think Daytona's looking pretty good, but, beyond that, we're still putting it together… I think the Nationwide Series is a great series, and I noticed that, when I did double duty those 10 times this past year, the Nationwide race really helped my Cup race -- and the Nationwide practice helped my Cup practice."
Patrick, who came to NASCAR from the IndyCar Series, also believes the transition to NASCAR's new Gen-6 race car might favor her driving style.
"I really enjoy high-grip tracks, and I think that getting a car that has more grip in it on these intermediate and short tracks is going to be a really good thing for me," Patrick said. "Obviously, I felt most comfortable at places like Texas or Vegas or somewhere like that…
"That's going to be a nice thing for me, especially on those hot days in the summer. Man, it's going to be nice to have some more downforce in those cars."
ELDORA TICKETS GOING FAST
Oscar Wilde once wrote, "Man is made for something better than disturbing dirt," but apparently the 16,000 fans who already have bought tickets for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Eldora Speedway don't agree.
"The great thing is we've got less than 1,000 reserved seats left," said track owner Tony Stewart. "We've sold over 16,000 seats to the event already, so things are going well and progressing, and we're pretty excited about it."
At Eldora, a lightning-fast half-mile track, the trucks will race on dirt for the first time in series history. The inaugural event is scheduled for Wednesday, July 24.
IT'S A… GIRL!
While reporters were gearing up for the media tour Monday morning, driver Denny Hamlin broke some news of his own.
"Introducing Taylor James Hamlin!!! Born Jan 20 at 20:20. (Weighing) 6lb 5oz and 20 inches in length," Hamlin posted on his Twitter account.
Taylor James is the daughter of Hamlin and girlfriend Jordan Fish. With the birth imminent, Hamlin skipped last week's Sprint Cup test at Charlotte, leaving substitute Michael McDowell to drive Hamlin's Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.