Look out Atlanta race fans! Here comes Danica Mania!
Danica Patrick is moving to NASCAR full-time for the 2012 season, and her schedule will include competing in two races on Labor Day Weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway! Patrick is scheduled to enter the NASCAR Nationwide Series night race on Sept. 1 and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AdvoCare 500 on Sept. 2.
“To have her in both races is going to make the weekend pretty cool,” said Atlanta Motor Speedway President and General Manager Ed Clark.
Patrick’s on-track ability in addition to her personality is expected to do nothing but draw attention to both NASCAR and any event in which she enters this season.
“You take her charisma and intensity and competitive nature and you throw in what she’s been able to accomplish in Indy Cars and it’s quite a curiosity factor,” Clark said. “People are going to want to pull for their favorite and see where they finish and then they’ll want to see where Danica finished. Any time you have that kind of added interest, it’s a big plus for the sport.”
One little-known fact is that Labor Day Weekend won’t be Patrick’s first journey onto the fast high-banks of Atlanta Motor Speedway. In January 2010, Patrick was at AMS for a test session to prepare her for entry into NASCAR by practicing pit stops and getting on and off pit road.
“She was excited when she was here; she liked the track,” Clark recalled. “Everything was new and fresh and different for her then. She’ll be attuned to those things when she comes back and hopefully she’ll have a good run. She’ll have a bunch more races under her belt when she gets here on Labor Day Weekend. “
Danica Patrick won’t be first open-wheel racer in recent memory trying their hand at NASCAR. In recent years, open-wheel stars Sam Hornish Jr., Juan Pablo Montoya and Dario Franchitti have crossed over to the NASCAR ranks with limited success. Patrick, however, has an advantage over this group of drivers – the benefit of being in stable driving situation accompanied by a high level of equipment.
“Other than the time period that AJ Foyt drove for the Wood Brothers, I don’t know that there has been another person to come over from the Indy Car ranks to have the caliber of equipment that she’s going to have to drive,” Clark said. “She’s got a great opportunity to set some new career marks that other people have not been able to do.”
That sets the table for the 2012 season, where Patrick will bring her star power further into NASCAR that’ll include a stop on Labor Day Weekend, adding more pop into the Biggest Labor Day Party in the USA.
“She’s really going to have an opportunity to showcase her talent,” Clark said.