Danica adds NASCAR ride

DEAN MCNULTY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:30 AM ET

IndyCar racing star Danica Patrick is jumping into NASCAR with, well, one foot.

The most valuable player in the open-wheel racing business in North America announced yesterday she will team up with NASCAR's biggest names -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Hendrick Motorsports -- to drive part time in 2010 in the Nationwide Series No. 7 Go Daddy Chevrolet.

The entry -- officially under the banner of JR Motorsports -- will race a limited schedule in NASCAR's second-tier series as well as in the ARCA season opener at Daytona International Speedway in February.

The cars will be powered and prepared by Hendrick and the crew chief most likely will be Tony Eury Sr.

"It's been a long time coming, but the stars finally aligned for me with Go Daddy and JRM," Danica said yesterday in Phoenix, where she was finishing a Super Bowl commercial shoot for GoDaddy.com.

Not everybody in the racing business, however, is heralding this as an instant success story. Former Formula 1 winner Juan Pablo Montoya -- one of the very few who has been able to make the transition from open-wheel to stock car racing -- has said that it's a tough road to try to tackle on a part-time basis.

Speed TV commentator Robin Miller -- a longtime supporter of Patrick -- isn't so sure either that the move will produce the kind of dividends on the track many may expect.

"Nobody's been a bigger supporter of Danica than I but I think she needs to become a consistent winner in IndyCar before she needs to worry about being a NASCAR driver," Miller said.

The 27-year-old Patrick, who also will maintain a full schedule with Andretti Auto sport with stops at the Honda Indy Toronto and the Rexall Edmonton Indy next season, has visited victory lane only once -- in Japan in 2008 -- in her five IndyCar Series seasons.

DEAN.MCNULTY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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