Danica Patrick announced Friday she will make her short track debut in a Sprint Cup car at NASCAR’s most popular event, the 2012 IRWIN Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Patrick, who competed at the World’s Fastest Half-Mile in March in the NASCAR Nationwide Series event, and her team, Stewart-Haas Racing, selected the August 25, 2012 event at BMS as one of 10 Sprint Cup events in which the rookie will compete next year.

Jerry Caldwell, BMS General Manager and Executive Vice-President, says having the celebrated Patrick racing in the sport’s most popular race just makes sense.

“Obviously, we’re very happy that Danica will be in the IRWIN Tools Night Race,” he said. “She has a tremendous amount of support from the fans and since the Night Race has long been NASCAR’s most popular event, it’s a perfect match.

“We all know how demanding this place is, both physically and mentally, so I think it says a lot about her that they chose Bristol as one of her races next year. We’re really looking forward to having her in both the Cup and Nationwide events next August.”

“I actually enjoyed Bristol,” Patrick said, “but I’m betting once I get out there with the other guys (Cup drivers), it’ll be a whole other level.”

Patrick will drive the No. 10 GoDaddy.com ride next season in 10 Sprint Cup events, beginning with the Daytona 500 on February 26th.  She will not race again until May 12th at Darlington, and then take another break until the IRWIN Tools Night Race at Bristol.

Patrick also will compete at Atlanta Motor Speedway (Sept. 2), Chicagoland (Sept. 16), Dover (Sept. 30), Texas Motor Speedway (Nov. 4) and Phoenix (Nov. 11). Two races are to be determined, with the plan being to assess Patrick’s development in the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series as the season progresses and then choose the remaining venues based on need and competitive reasoning.

Patrick, a seven-year veteran of the IZOD IndyCar Series where she became the first woman in series history to win a race, will make the full transition to stock cars in 2012, competing in the entire Nationwide Series schedule for JR Motorsports and the limited Sprint Cup schedule for SHR.

“Our goal with Danica’s schedule is to try and maximize her 10 races with us so that she’s as prepared as she can possibly be for a full-time Sprint Cup schedule in 2013,” said Tony Stewart, co-owner of SHR with Gene Haas, founder of Haas Automation. “The point is to expose her to as many challenges as possible so that she’ll know what to expect in 2013.

“Between our schedule and her full Nationwide Series schedule for JR Motorsports, Danica will gain a lot of experience quickly. At the same time, we’ll monitor her progress, and if we feel there’s a particular venue or style of track where more seat time would be beneficial, we have two races where we can call an audible and enter her in those events.”

Patrick’s NASCAR debut at BMS came last March in the Nationwide event. She qualified 29th and finished 33rd.

Season tickets are on sale now for the 2012 season, which include the Food City 500 and IRWIN Tools Night Race Sprint Cup races, as well as the Nationwide events. Pricing for all four races begins at just $175 in the Wallace Tower.

A March race weekend package also is available starting at $99 that includes the Food City 500 and the Nationwide event. A package in the Wallace Tower for both Sprint Cup races also is now available for $99.  Packages for fans 15 and younger are available for the March races at half price.

To purchase tickets, please contact the BMS ticket office at its toll free number 1-866-415-4158 or 423-BRISTOL (274-7865). Fans also can purchase tickets online now.