Danica to run Coca-Cola 600 in 2012

Danica Patrick will not race in the 2012 Indianapolis 500, the driver announced Monday at NASCAR's Media Tour.

Patrick, 29, will compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Memorial Day weekend instead as she shifts her focus racing full-time to NASCAR. Both races are scheduled for May 27.

Certainly, the decision was a difficult one for Patrick. She has often called the Indy 500 her "favorite race in the world." That's understandable considering that in seven starts, Patrick posted just one finish outside of the top 10.

"I love everything about this place," Patrick said at Indy last May. "I love the tradition. I love the race itself. So many times you can come away from this event, after 500 miles, and think of how your strategy could have put you in Victory Circle. I think that's why people love this place and so many people come back.

"So many people have that story as to how they could have maybe won the Indy 500, which is for me the ultimate goal. I would imagine for a lot of people it's the ultimate goal. It's definitely high up on the list."

Patrick refers to her first 500 in 2005 as her most memorable, her "favorite" even more so than when she earned her first IndyCar win at Twin Ring Motegi Superspeedway in Japan in April 2008. Driving for her mentor Bobby Rahal and his partner David Letterman, Patrick qualified fourth, led 19 laps and finished fourth in her Brickyard debut. Her best finish overall at Indy was third in 2009 driving for Andretti Green Racing.

Patrick will compete for the Nationwide Series title this season behind the wheel of the No. 7 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports. She will make her Sprint Cup debut driving the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet for Stewart Haas Racing in the Daytona 500 next month and compete in an additional nine Cup events.

During her availability at the Daytona test earlier this month, Patrick acknowledged that she wanted "to make a good impression in the Cup races" she'll compete and added during the test she felt comfortable.

"As comfortable as I could imagine myself in this situation," Patrick said. "Just really excited and really happy and glad to be where I'm at."

Certainly, with Patrick being two months from her 30th birthday, this won't be her final opportunity to run the Indy 500.

"I hope to do it in the future, and maybe it will be a double," Patrick said during Monday's NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway.