Danica Patrick to tangle with Bristol in March Nationwide event
Danica Patrick will compete in the Scotts Turf Builder 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway March 19, 2011, her first race on "The World’s Fastest Half-Mile," JR Motorsports officials announced Friday at Charlotte Motor Speedway. She will be the first woman to compete at Bristol in the NASCAR Nationwide Series since Patty Moise in the Food City 250 in August 1998.
Patrick will join JR Motorsports teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Aric Almirola in the 2011 NASCAR Nationwide Series event at Bristol.
"I'm really excited to go to Bristol for the first time,” said Patrick. “Dario Franchitti was asking me last year if I was going there and I said no, and he was saying how much fun it was.”
Crew chief Tony Eury Jr. says with no testing available at BMS due to NASCAR rules, he will encourage Patrick to watch a lot of video.
"We’ve talked about (going to) Winchester, but there’s really no place like Bristol. Bristol's just a unique deal,” he said. “It will be a good time for her to experience what NASCAR is all about. We can show her tons of video and put her in a simulator but we’re really just going to have to show up, prepare the best we can and let her get on the track.”
Patrick is anxious to do whatever necessary to have a good effort at BMS.
“I’ll probably look to Tony (for guidance),” she said. “I’ll do whatever he thinks I need to do to prepare to race there.”
Team officials announced Patrick will drive the No. 7 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet in the first four NASCAR Nationwide Series events of 2011. The races beyond that have not been determined, although Patrick will take on a schedule similar to that of her 13-race rookie campaign.
After the Bristol event, Patrick will then return to the IndyCar Series to dedicate full-time attention to open-wheel racing, making sporadic returns to NASCAR throughout the year.
Friday's announcement also included the unveiling of the 2011 paint scheme for Patrick's No. 7 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet. JR Motorsports co-owners Kelley Earnhardt and Tony Eury Jr., the team's general manager and crew chief, respectively, joined Patrick for the unveiling and schedule announcement.
"I know we're all anxious to get the whole schedule put in place, but I'm extremely excited to be able to confirm our participation in the first four races of the 2011 NASCAR Nationwide Series season," Patrick said. "We'll have four extremely challenging and unique races to start our season."
Yet, Bristol is one track where she has yet to turn a lap.
"Danica has shown immense dedication in her NASCAR endeavor,” said Kelley Earnhardt. “She proved last week (at Auto Club Speedway) that even a little bit of experience goes a long way, as she drove an exceptional race. Starting this weekend at Charlotte, she will compete in each of the final five races of 2010. Add the first four Nationwide races of next season, and that's a solid stretch of seat time she will get to continue learning the intricacies of these race cars. She has done a commendable job so far given the limited seat time, and we appreciate her work ethic and dedication to Go Daddy and our race team."
Patrick is currently in her first season in competitive stock car racing, as she has driven the No. 7 Go Daddy.com Chevrolet in eight of 13 scheduled races so far this year. She just wrapped her 2010 IndyCar campaign, finishing 10th in the championship point standings.
Tickets are on sale now for the 2011 events at Bristol Motor Speedway, including added value season packages. Packages are available for both NASCAR Nationwide and Sprint Cup races, spring weekend packages, and single event tickets for any NASCAR or NHRA event on the 2011 Bristol Motor Speedway or Bristol Dragway calendar. Call Bristol’s ticket office toll free at 1.866.415.4158, or locally at 423-989-6900.