NASCAR welcomes Danica Patrick's switch, IndyCar bids her farewell

NASCAR officials have embraced the news of Danica Patrick's full switch to NASCAR, following her announcement on Thursday

NASCAR welcomes Danica Patrick's switch, IndyCar bids her farewell

The IndyCar star revealed she is set to enter the 2012 Nationwide Series season full-time with JR Motorsports, while attempting a partial schedule in the Sprint Cup Series with Stewart-Haas Racing.

NASCAR CEO and Chairman Brian France welcomed Patrick's decision, which he said was exciting news for the sport's massive fanbase, while a big challenge for her career as well.

"We are pleased Danica Patrick has chosen to run full-time in NASCAR in 2012," said France in a statement. "She has demonstrated a strong desire to compete and NASCAR provides her the best opportunity to race against the top drivers in the world with the largest and most loyal fan base in motorsports on a week-to-week basis.

"Danica has shown solid improvement in NASCAR and we believe her decision to run full-time in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, with additional races in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, will be exciting for our fans and a great challenge to her."

Patrick's boss, Hendrick driver Dale Earnhardt Jr, says he is glad she will now devote her full attention to the Nationwide Series in 2012 and expects her to continue to improve in her first full season next year.

"Danica has done a great job in a short amount of time for JR Motorsports," said Earnhardt Jr. "Her work ethic is probably the best of anyone in the sport. People don't understand how difficult it is to do what she did - racing two totally different cars at the same time.

"I'm glad she gets the opportunity to devote all of her attention to this car, because I think she's going to continue getting better. Danica has earned her place on the track, and I look forward to having her back in the #7 car next year."

Two-time Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart, for whom Patrick is set to run a partial Cup schedule in 2012, also welcomed her switch to NASCAR and says his intention is to run her full-time in 2013.

"We're very excited to have Danica Patrick join Stewart Haas Racing in 2012 for a limited NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule with the intention of us running her full-time in Sprint Cup in 2013," said Stewart.

"We're proud of the fact she wants to come and be a part of Stewart Haas Racing and what we've built with Ryan Newman and myself and all of our partners. Having Danica at SHR is something we're really looking forward to.

"The thing you see in Danica right away is how determined she is to be good at what she does. She's very dedicated to taking the time and effort to make the transition from Indy cars to stock cars. She has talent, she has the right mindset and she has the proper drive and determination. It doesn't matter who it is you're looking for, those are the key attributes that you look for in a driver, and Danica's got them."

IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard said Patrick has played a key role as an ambassador for his series and wished her success in her future NASCAR career.

"Danica has always been a great ambassador for IndyCar, and there is no doubt she has left a positive impression on our sport," said Bernard. "She has touched millions of fans and many that were new to motorsports. Danica attracted a fan base that every athlete and sports property in the world would love to have.

"We should give her a great farewell the rest of this season as she opens a new page in her career and wish her continued success with her new direction."

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Danica Patrick confirms switch to NASCAR in 2012
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