Philadelphia, PA – Danica Patrick raced in the Indianapolis 500 each year from 2005-11. Now she's set to compete in a stock car race at the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the first time.
After running at nearby Lucas Oil Raceway (formerly known as Indianapolis Raceway Park and O'Reilly Raceway Park) for the past 30 years, the Nationwide Series will make its debut at the Brickyard this weekend.
Nationwide teams will practice there throughout the day on Thursday. The 250- mile race is slated for Saturday, with qualifying to be held earlier that day.
Patrick is in her first full-season in NASCAR's second-tier series, driving the No. 7 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports. She is presently ninth in the point standings, with only one top-10 finish (eighth at Texas). Patrick is also running a limited Sprint Cup Series schedule this season. There had been speculation earlier this year that she would add Indianapolis to her Sprint Cup calendar, but recently, she announced that Kansas Speedway would complete her 10-race schedule for 2012.
"I'm looking forward to driving in a stock car at Indianapolis," Patrick said. "It's obviously going to be a little slower than an Indy Car. But I have such good memories, and I feel so good when I come into the track and just see the facility. I think those good emotions, those positive emotions, a lot of times can translate to a good weekend, so I look forward to that.
"I look forward to seeing the fans from Indianapolis. My parents and sister live there now. It should be a fun weekend, and I look forward to the experience in a stock car."
Patrick has the distinction of being the only female to lead in the Indy 500. She is also the highest finishing woman in that event's history. Patrick placed third in the 2009 race. She finished in the top-10 in six of her seven Indy 500 starts.
When Patrick races at IMS this weekend, she will be at the helm of a 3,450- pound stock car rather than a much lighter Indy car, which weighs roughly 1,525 pounds.
"In an Indy car, there's no lifting, and it's right around the bottom of the track, and it's a big high-speed chess match out there with cars running very close to each other," she said. "In a stock car, you run a more traditional line, and there's lifting. Perspective-wise, they definitely have a different feel, based on the lines that you run. In an Indy car, you sit so low. That happens everywhere I go when I've been there in an Indy car and a stock car. It's always just a little bit different."
Patrick recently made some laps around the 2.5-mile oval in a stock car. She took ABC News correspondent and long-time television news anchor Katie Couric for a ride in a two-seated version of a stock car.
"It feels really good to be at the track," Patrick said earlier this month when she was at Indy. "I enjoyed the laps that I made out there. I really enjoyed coming out of turn four and coming down the front straightaway and seeing everything again."
Couric interviewed Patrick at IMS for an upcoming segment on her new daytime TV talk show, which is set to debut later this year.
Indianapolis is the third of four consecutive "Dash 4 Cash" races in Nationwide. Elliott Sadler, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Justin Allgaier and Michael Annett are those eligible for the $100,000 bonus from series title sponsor Nationwide Insurance. Rookie Austin Dillon collected the cash award with his third-place run in the July 14 event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, while Sadler claimed the bonus with his victory in last Sunday's race at Chicagoland Speedway. Next week's event at Iowa Speedway is the final D4C round this year.
Forty-five teams are on the preliminary entry list for the inaugural Indy 250. Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Kasey Kahne, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Paul Menard, the 2011 Brickyard 400 winner, are those Sprint Cup regulars scheduled to compete in the Nationwide race at Indianapolis.
Series: NASCAR Nationwide. Date: Saturday, July 28. Race: Indy 250. Site: Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Track: 2.5-mile oval. Start time: 4:30 p.m. (et). Laps: 100. Miles: 250. Television: ESPN. Radio: IMS Radio Network/SIRIUS NASCAR Radio.