Patrick Can Make Kentucky Speedway NASCAR Nationwide Series History June 12
IZOD IndyCar Series star Danica Patrick can become the first female to compete in a Kentucky Speedway NASCAR Nationwide Series event if she races the Dale Earnhardt, Jr.-owned No. 7 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet in the June 12 "Meijer 300." Patrick will race an unspecified number of 2010 NASCAR Nationwide Series events with JR Motorsports in addition to the full 17-event IZOD IndyCar Series schedule which opens in Sao Paulo, Brazil March 14 and includes a Sept. 4 Kentucky Speedway visit.
"It's been a long time coming, but the stars finally aligned for me with Go Daddy and JRM. I have always said I love to drive and if I could make it work to race in both IndyCar and NASCAR, then I'd love to race in NASCAR," Patrick said.
She plans to make her competitive stock car racing debut in the season-opening 200-mile ARCA RE/MAX Series event at Daytona International Speedway Feb. 6.
"We believe we have an excellent chance of attracting Danica Patrick and the GoDaddy.com team to the 'Meijer 300' when one considers her familiarity with our facility, our large event purse, record of generating capacity NASCAR Nationwide Series audiences to our 66,000-seat venue and the fact that our race falls on an open date for the IZOD IndyCar Series," Kentucky Speedway General Manager Mark Simendinger said.
Patrick has made five career IZOD IndyCar Series starts on the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway tri-oval. She raced to her track-best eighth-place finishes on Aug. 1, 2009 and Aug. 13, 2006. The five-year series veteran placed a career-best fifth in this season's final IZOD IndyCar Series championship standings after taking five top-five and 10 top-10 finishes through 17 starts with Andretti Autosport.
The 27-year-old from Roscoe, Ill., started the 2005 Kentucky Speedway 300-mile IZOD IndyCar Series event from the pole position and is one of three all-time female pole award winners in the track's 10-year history. Fellow IZOD IndyCar Series competitor Sarah Fisher earned a Kentucky Speedway pole award on Aug. 10, 2002. She registered the best series female finish at the facility by placing third on Aug. 27, 2000.
Former Evernham Motorsports driver Erin Crocker owns the best female driving record at Kentucky Speedway after scoring three pole awards (July 13, 2007; July 7, 2006 and July 8, 2005), two second-place finishes ( May 12, 2007; July 8, 2005) and a fifth-place finish (July 13, 2007) through four career ARCA RE/MAX Series appearances. Crocker held the stock-car series Kentucky Speedway qualifying record with a 178.731-mph (30.213 seconds) lap from July 13, 2007 to July 18, 2009 when Brian Ickler set the current series track benchmark with a 179.247-mph (30.126 seconds) lap. She made her lone NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start at Kentucky in 2006 and placed 27th.
Nineteen female drivers have made a combined 49 Kentucky Speedway major-series starts across the ARCA RE/MAX Series (25), NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (9) and IndyCar Series (15).
The NASCAR Nationwide Series "Meijer 300" will open a Kentucky Speedway season for the first time. The weekend will begin June 11 with "Drive Smart. Click it or Ticket Kentucky" Practice Day. The 2010 speedway docket also will feature a tripleheader weekend Sept. 3-4. The first Labor Day celebration in track history will begin with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series "Built Ford Tough 225 presented by the Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers" on Friday. Tough truck action will be followed by the IZOD IndyCar Series "Kentucky 300" along with the Firestone Indy Lights "Drive Smart. Buckle-Up! Kentucky 100."
Kentucky Speedway season tickets are on sale now and can be reserved or renewed online at http://www.kentuckyspeedway.com or by phone at 859-578-2300. Plans range from $139 to $230 and include great benefits such as the right to renew seat locations for future seasons, free admission to the June 11 NASCAR Nationwide Series Practice Day, VIP parking, two Victory Lane Walk vouchers with each ticket purchased and a 15 percent discount off the purchase of additional race tickets.
Story by Mike Schmaltz
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