By Steve Pouliot - 26 January 2012:
NASCAR's newest celebrity, Danica Patrick, confirmed today that she will not be running in the 2012 Indianapolis 500, electing instead to focus on stock cars and run in the Coke 600 on Memorial Day Weekend.
"I'm going to do the Coke 600. I'm not going to do the Indy 500. I hope to do it in the future, the Indy 500, that is. Maybe it will be a double. But at this point in time after a lot of conversations, it's just going to be the Coke 600. It's going to be a big challenge, but I'm looking forward to it, and especially a hometown like Charlotte for NASCAR." Patrick said.
So how did she make the decision? "The decision? Well, it was just something that didn't work out as far as the business side of things. It just didn't work out. I'm hopeful to do it in the future, but for this year, it just didn't happen." Patrick stated.
Danica also talked about expectations for the 2012 season, as she makes the commitment to forgo open wheel. "I think that first starting out with the Nationwide stuff, very much it depends on the individual weekend itself. There are still some tracks that I haven't raced at before, so probably a little bit different expectations for those. But for the most part, solid top-10. Getting into the top-five more consistently through the year would be a goal, and I'd like to get to victory lane. “As far as the Cup stuff, I think that it would be good if they answered as well on this." Patrick said, referring to Tony Stewart and Greg Zipadelli. "But I'd like to know what I should expect. But I think that at Daytona, the cars are very fast as you guys can see, and as we saw already at the test. So I feel good about that race. I feel good about… I mean, I was lucky enough to get to run with Tony in the Nationwide race last summer, and that went pretty good. So I feel good about Daytona. I think there is a real chance if luck falls our way to perhaps win. I think that's a real chance. I mean, a guy like Trevor Bayne last year showed that. So those are the expectations for the first race, but then beyond that. I don't know. Top-20 or so, I guess, would maybe be a good goal. I feel like longer races are good. I like long races. I feel like I learn, I get more comfortable out there and we keep tweaking on the car and making it a little better on each pit stop, so I'm hoping that plays into my favor with the length of these races."
Zippy added "For myself, it's just good solid days. Give her as much track time as we can, and support, and just trying to teach her as much as we can about this sport and this series for the following year."
Team owner Tony Stewart expanded a bit more, saying "I'm excited about it. From my standpoint, I crashed everything I drove from the Nationwide cars, and it – on the Cup side – it got better obviously. But looking at it, these ten races for her this year, for me it's just finishing the races and getting the track time. In the short amount of time that I've worked with her, she's so good at processing information and what she learns on the racetrack. She can explain it to you right away and very accurate. I think her feedback is excellent. Just getting the time on the racetrack and, I guess are from my standpoint, I'm not worried about the finishes at the end of the day. It's just finishing the race, getting the laps and getting that experience in the car. Five hundred mile races are long races, especially in the Cup series when you're dealing with a 3,400 pound car. It's a learning process. I think the success at the end of the year won't be judged by where the finishing position is at the end of the day as much as what she's taken away from race weekend. So that's what my goal is for her."