Danica's time to move

DEAN MCNULTY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:35 AM ET

Take this to the bank: Danica Patrick will be driving NASCAR stock cars in 2010.

While the 27-year-old Roscoe, Ill., native may be saying all the right things this week about her goal being to win an IndyCar championship for Andretti-Green Racing, she has got more going on in her pretty little head than preparing for her next Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition shoot.

Underneath all that glitter and glamour, Patrick is loaded with business acumen that has guided her well over the past five years in major league racing.

And with her AGR contract about to expire, Patrick is having the best season of her career. She holds fifth spot in the IRL standings, just 32 points out of first place, and has four top-five finishes in the past five races as the series heads to Iowa this week.

She -- and her agents at IMG -- want to strike while the iron is hot and right now she's smoking hot. With her public profile and her results this season, the kind of money she can demand going into next season just doesn't exist in IndyCar racing.

In a conference call this week Patrick pleaded that she and her team are "looking at all of our options."

In fact her only option if she wants top dollar --and Patrick does -- is to sign a deal with a top NASCAR Sprint Cup team. She can go to Formula One, but not in a competitive car. She can stay in the IRL and win, but not earn the kind of megabucks that Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. do.

"Right now I'm talking to my representatives and gathering all the information we can to make the right decision," she said.

As reported here last week, Patrick has IMG boss George Pyne in her corner and the latest reports from NASCAR's unofficial headquarters in Charlotte, N.C., is that he is well down the road in negotiating a long-term deal with Chip Ganassi Racing where Juan Pablo Montoya already is established.

Now that would be a sponsor's NASCAR dream team.

A first for Tracy

It's hard to believe that in a career that has spanned almost three decades, Paul Tracy has never raced at New York's Watkins Glen International -- one of the most revered permanent road courses in the United States.

That will be remedied on the U.S. Fourth of July weekend, however, when the "Thrill from West Hill" climbs into the No. 15 KV Racing Technology Dallara for the Indy Racing League's Camping World Grand Prix at the Glen IndyCar Series race July 5.

"It is amazing to me that Paul Tracy has never competed at our historic road course in his career," Michael Printup, president of Watkins Glen International, said in a release.

Tracy, at first, could hardly believe it himself that he never had raced at the 4.06-km, 12-turn, one-time F-1 venue.

"It feels a little strange that at this stage of my career that there are still some exciting challenges left, and racing at Watkins Glen, with all its history, is definitely a challenge," he said.

Tracy is happy for the chance to race at the Glen for another reason: It's just a week before the Honda Toronto Indy and it gives him a chance to find his racing legs on a track where he can turn left and right before he makes his Canadian IRL debut.

Sports car Kyle

It looks as if NASCAR Sprint Cup bad boy Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, is about to try to annoy a whole new flock of racing fans.

Busch -- at just 24 -- already is near the top of the most hated drivers list in Cup and in the Nationwide series where he drives the Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota. Then there's the Camping World Truck series, where he pilots the No. 51 Billy Ballew Motorsports Tundra.

This week, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates announced that Busch will team up with former F-1 and current Sprint Cup driver Scott Speed at the July 4 Grand Am Rolex sports car Brumos Porsche 250 at Daytona International Speedway.

Busch and Speed will drive the No.02 Waste Management Lexus Riley and share a garage with Ganassi's defending race winners Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas.

We wonder how long it will take before Busch starts to rub a whole new collection of competitors and fans the wrong way?

Canadian corner

Defending NASCAR Canadian Tire Series champion Scott Steckly went through the 2008 season without a glitch, but 2009 is proving to be another matter.

At the Dickies 200 at Mosport International Raceway, the engine blew on the No. 22 Canadian Tire/Tow Truck in a Box Dodge, marking Steckly's second DNF this year.

Wreck 'em racing

Four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon thinks that the Toyota/Save Mart 350 in California this week will be a wreckfest because of NASCAR's new double-file re-starts.

"We're going to need to figure out how to get through the first set of corners on each double-file restart," he said. "But, at the same time, we're going to be battling even harder and more intense for each position. And sometimes that leads to more mistakes and more accidents."


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