AVONDALE, Ariz. – The Indianapolis 500 is fading into the background for Danica Patrick, who has decided not to attempt the race next season, after all.
Several people familiar with her plans told The Associated Press that Patrick has decided against trying to run at Indianapolis Motor Speedway next May because it would detract from her NASCAR efforts. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because Patrick has not officially announced her intentions.
"There's nothing I can say at this time," Patrick told the AP on Saturday at Phoenix International Raceway.
Patrick left IndyCar at the end of last season for a full-time move to NASCAR, and skipped the 500 this year to run in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on the same day. But in announcing her schedule last January, Patrick said she hoped a return to Indy was still in her future and her management team has been trying all year to put a deal together to get her back to the 500 in 2013.
Those plans were halted, though, in the last month as Stewart-Haas Racing questioned the wisdom of Patrick trying to run both the Indy 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 on the same day.
Tony Stewart, Robby Gordon and John Andretti have all tried to run both events on the same day. Stewart, NASCAR's three-time champion and Patrick's team owner in the Cup Series, completed the double twice: In 1999, he was ninth at Indy and fourth at Charlotte, and in 2001, he was sixth at Indy and third at Charlotte.
He's not tried Indianapolis since, and has let go of his childhood dream of winning the 500. He has twice won the Brickyard 400, NASCAR's race at storied Indy.
"I think it's the craziest thing I've ever heard," SHR competition director Greg Zipadelli said in an interview with the AP two days after Patrick wrecked her car while intentionally trying to wreck Landon Cassill at Kansas.
"I lived through it twice with one of the greatest racer I've ever seen, and trying to run both of those races is just stupid. She needs to focus on the Cup car if that's what she wants to do. If she's here to be in NASCAR, then she needs to be here focused on NASCAR."
Zipadelli apparently had that very conversation with Patrick sometime in the last month, which may have contributed to Patrick's decision not to pursue an Indianapolis 500 ride.
Patrick challenged for the Indy 500 win as a rookie, becoming the first woman to lead laps while finishing fourth. She was a career-best third in 2009.
She's having a rough season in NASCAR, where Sunday's race at Phoenix is the last of her scheduled 10 Cup starts. Although she's coming off of a career-best 24th last week at Texas, it was the first time she's finished on the lead lap in nine races. Stewart has said he's picked the 10 hardest events to get her ready for next year.
In the Nationwide Series, she scored her fourth top-10 of the season Saturday at Phoenix. It was her second top-10 in her last three races.