Danica Patrick looks forward to dual driving duty

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Danica Patrick is getting ready for a summer of driving without a vacation.

When Patrick resumes her part-time NASCAR Nationwide schedule for JR Motorsports later this month, the IndyCar Series' most popular driver will be switching back and forth between racing open-wheel cars and stock cars for the first time this season.

"As far as the schedule goes, I have a lot of predictability through the summer, which is nice," Patrick said Friday. "I think in years past, it's been fly here, do this appearance, do this photo shoot, then things come up last second. But when the race season is going, people know that I need that time and I need the time during the week to recover and get to the next one. So I'm looking forward to it."

The three Nationwide races Patrick ran earlier this season were before the start of the 17-race IndyCar Series schedule.

After Texas on Saturday night, there is a two-week gap before the next Indy race in Iowa. That is when things really start getting busy — and more challenging — by driving in distinctly different series.

The June 20 race in Iowa will start a four-weekend span for Patrick when she will alternate between IndyCar and NASCAR. She resumes her Nationwide schedule June 26 at New Hampshire, spends July 4 in an IndyCar at Watkins Glen and then goes to Chicago for another stock car race.

"I'm a little concerned. I think it's tough for her to do, and I think it's tough for anybody to do that," said Michael Andretti, owner of Patrick's No. 7 GoDaddy.com Indy car. "I think to be good in any one of these series any more, you have to be in it 24-7. From that standpoint, I think it's probably not as healthy for her. But we support her. This is what she wanted to do, so we're supporting it."

In all, Patrick is set to run four NASCAR races this summer while also completing the rest of the IndyCar schedule. After the Indy season finale Oct. 2, Patrick will then run the final six Nationwide races of the season, giving her 13 NASCAR races this year.

Patrick is coming off her best Indy finish this season, sixth at the Indianapolis 500. But she is 12th in season points.

Helped by a series of quick pit stops, some strategic moves and solid driving, Patrick rebounded with a top-10 finish at the Brickyard a week after she bashed her Andretti Autosport crew following a poor qualifying effort there.

"Any time you have a nice finish, it's always a good thing for the team. I think most importantly, my team should feel good because they were part of most of the success there on pit stops and everything," Patrick said. "That's important, and ever more important as you go to races where there's so much more green flag running, and green-flag pit stops and no yellows."

Patrick has three consecutive top-10 finishes at the high-banked 1½-mile Texas track that is among the fastest on the Indy circuit. She was sixth last summer.

One of the Nationwide races at the end of the season for Patrick will be at Texas in November. She knows the track will be completely different in a stock car, like California was when she ran a Nationwide race at that two-mile track in February.

"Fontana, that place was like so easy in an Indy car. You drive around the while line and you just keep your foot down," Patrick said. "In a stock car, it seemed really short because you're lifting, I was uncomfortable in the car. ... Here, we run the bottom of the track (in IndyCar), especially coming out of Turn 2. You don't go all the way up to the wall, but I'm sure you will in a stock car."