Dale Jr.: Nothing new, but Patrick good for NASCAR
Associated Press Writer
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) – Dale Earnhardt Jr. says Danica Patrick would be good for NASCAR, but there’s nothing new to report on the IndyCar star joining his team.
Earnhardt told The Associated Press on Friday that other teams were still in the mix for Patrick’s services. He said the talks were still in their early stages.
His comments came after ESPN reported that a deal could be in place soon between Patrick and Earnhardt’s Nationwide Series team, JR Motorsports. Patrick would run a partial Nationwide schedule while running full-time in the IRL.
“She will be good for NASCAR, whoever gets her,” Earnhardt said.
That’s what all his fellow drivers were saying, too.
Talk of Patrick’s jump to NASCAR has percolated for weeks, even amid reports that she has agreed to a three-year contract extension with Andretti Green Racing that would keep her in the IndyCar series through 2012. The open-wheel season is much shorter and has more gaps than NASCAR’s No. 2 circuit, making it possible for Patrick to do both.
Patrick is the only woman to win an IndyCar race, and her crossover appeal is a huge attraction for sponsors.
“The fans would love it, so I think the better she does over here – barring running in front of me – the better it is for the sport and I think that’s good,” Carl Edwards said.
Edwards and others offered the usual warnings of how much different – some say more difficult – the NASCAR circuit is. While Tony Stewart has enjoyed plenty of Sprint Cup success after an IndyCar career, Sam Hornish Jr. hasn’t sniffed a Sprint Cup victory after dominating the IndyCar circuit.
“She’s never going to know what it’s like to drive one of these cars until she gets out and does it in competition,” four-time Sprint Cup series champion Jeff Gordon said. “I give her credit for trying. You can only wait and see how it goes, and I don’t like commenting any farther on rumors until they make an announcement.”
Earnhardt’s point exactly.